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    Angular History

    A history service for AngularJS. Undo/redo, that sort of thing. Has nothing to do with the "back" button, unless you want it to.
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    angular-history Build Status

    A history service for AngularJS. Undo/redo, that sort of thing. Has nothing to do with the "back" button, unless you want it to.

    Current Version


    Fair warning: Until this project is at 1.0.0 the API is subject to change and will likely break.


    bower install angular-history


    Running Tests

    Clone this repo and execute:

    npm install

    to grab the dependencies. Then execute:

    grunt test

    to run the tests. This will grab the test deps from bower, and run them against QUnit in a local server on port 8000.

    API Documentation

    API Documentation


    For now, some in the API documentation.


    First, include the decipher.history module in your application:

    angular.module('myApp', ['decipher.history']);

    Next, you will want to inject the History service into your component:

    angular.module('myApp').controller('MyCtrl', function($scope, History) {
        // ...

    Optionally, you can grab the ngLazyBind module if you want to support lazy binding. This becomes useful if you have say, an <input type="text"> field, and you don't want every keystroke recorded in the history. If this module is present, the History service will provide extra options.

    Watching an Expression

    You will want to give the History service an expression to watch:

    angular.module('myApp').controller('MyCtrl', function($scope, History) {
        $ = 'bar';'foo', $scope);

    An optional third parameter is the description, which will be emitted when an item is archived, undone, redone, or reverted, via a $broadcast(). This allows you to attach to the event and do something with the info, such as pop up an alert with an "undo" button in it. This value is interpolated against the passed $scope object.

    If you have the ngLazyBind module, you may provide a fourth parameter to'foo', $scope, 'Foo changed to {{foo}}', {timeout: 500});

    This tells the history stack to update no more often than every 500ms. This value defaults to 1s. If you wish to use lazy binding with the default, then simply pass an empty object {} as the fourth parameter. If you do not have the ngLazyBind module installed, this object will simply be ignored.

    The Watch Object

    Whenever you issue one of the following commands, you will receive a Watch object:

    • History.deepWatch()
    • History.batch()

    This provides another layer of functionality on top of the events that the History service will broadcast. You can use these chainable objects to run callbacks depending on the type of action that was taken:

    var w ='foo')
      .addChangeHandler('myChangeHandler', function() {
        console.log('foo got changed');
      .addUndoHandler('myUndoHandler', function() {
        console.log('undid foo.  this message will self-destruct');

    The general recommendation is to listen for the global events if you want general functionality, and to use these Watch object callbacks for specific functionality.


    Once something is watch()ed, you can undo or redo changes to it, if that expression is assignable. If you pass a function as the expression, you may not undo/redo, but you will still have access to the history stack.

    Anyway, to undo, execute:

    History.undo('foo', $scope);

    The $scope will be updated with the most recent version of the object. You can undo() as many times as there are changes in the expression's value since you watch()ed it--this is an entire history stack.

    Furthermore, an event will be emitted. The $rootScope will $broadcast() a History.undone event with the following information:

    • expression: The expression that was undone
    • oldValue: The value the expression was changed from. This is a copy!
    • newValue: The value the expression was changed to
    • description: The optional description you may have passed
    • scope: The scope passed to undo()

    Redoing is pretty much as you would expect:

    History.redo('foo', $scope);

    This only works if you have previously undone something, of course. You can undo multiple times, then redo multiple times. The event emitted after redo is History.redone and the information is the same.

    Use History.canUndo(exp, scope) and History.canRedo(exp, scope) if you need to know those things.


    You can revert to the original value at the time of the watch() instruction by issuing:

    History.revert('foo', $scope);

    If you are looking at History.history and know where in the stack you want to go, pass a third parameter and you will revert to a specific revision in the stack:

    History.revert('foo', $scope, 23);

    ...which will revert directly to the 23rd revision, no questions asked.

    In addition, the History.reverted event will return to you the pointer that you passed it (which is 0 by default).


    If you want to stop watching an expression for changes, issue:

    History.forget($scope, 'foo');

    The history will be purged and the watch will be removed. Note that the $scope parameter comes first. If you omit the second parameter, all of the history data and watches for the scope will be destroyed. If you omit the first parameter, this will wipe the entire History service.

    Fanciness: Deep Watching

    Maybe it could use a different name, but often situations arise where you want to watch an entire array of objects for a change in any of those objects' properties. It would be incredibly inefficient to watch the entire array/object for changes, and you wouldn't necessarily know what property got updated.

    "Deep watch" like so:

    $scope.foos = [
      {id: 1, name: 'winken'},
      {id: 2, name: 'blinken'},
      {id: 3, name: 'nod'}
    History.deepWatch(' for f in foos', $scope,
      'Foo with ID {{}} changed to {{}}');

    This works for objects as well:

    $scope.foos = {
      '1': {name: 'fe'},
      '2': {name: 'fi'},
      '3': {name: 'fo'},
      '4': {name: 'fum'}
    History.deepWatch(' for (key, value) in foos', $scope,
      'Foo with ID {{key}} changed its name to {{}}');

    Now, whenever a name of any one of those things changes, history will be put on the stack.

    There are two ways to handle this.

    Listen for an event

    The first is to listen for the History.archived event:

    History.deepWatch(' for f in foos', $scope,
      'Foo with ID {{}} changed to {{}}');
    $scope.$on('History.archived', function(evt, data) {
      $scope.undo = function() {
        History.undo(data.expression, data.locals);
    $scope.foos[0].name = 'fuh';

    So you can bind to undo() in your view, and it will undo the change to foos[0].name.

    data, as passed to the event handler, will look similar to the History.undone event as mentioned above:

    • expression: The expression that got archived, local to locals
    • oldValue: The value the expression was changed from. This is a copy!
    • newValue: The value the expression was changed to.
    • description: The optional description you may have passed
    • locals: A scope containing your expression's value. For example, above we will have the object f available in locals, with a name property.

    Use a handler

    The second way is to use a handler built into a Watch object:

    var w = History.deepWatch(' for f in foos', $scope,
      'Foo with ID {{}} changed to {{}}');
    w.addChangeHandler('myChangeHandler', function($expression, $locals, foo) {
      $scope.undo = function() {
        console.log('undoing foo with name "' + + '"');
        History.undo($expression, $locals);
    }, {foo: 'f'});
    $scope.foos[0].name = 'fuh';

    There are two special injections into your change/undo/redo/etc. handlers:

    • $expression The expression that changed. This may be simple, like foo, or complex like if you have used a deep watch.
    • $locals The scope against which the change was made. If this is simple, like in the case of a, you probably don't need it. But if you are doing a deep watch, then you will want to use this, because it does not represent the scope you originally started with!

    $expression is not available in rollback handlers (discussed later).

    Otherworldly Fanciness: Batching

    You can group a bunch of changes together and undo them all at once. Note that currently you must actually be watching the changed variables in some manner; you must use watch() or deepWatch() first, then issue the batch.

    // setup some data
    scope.$apply('foo = [1,2,3]');
    scope.$apply('bar = "baz"');
    scope.$apply(function () { = [
        {id: 1, name: 'foo'},
        {id: 2, name: 'bar'},
        {id: 3, name: 'baz'}
      scope.otherdata = {
        1: {
          name: 'foo'
        2: {
          name: 'bar'
        3: {
          name: 'baz'
    // watch some of these things through various means'foo', scope, 'foo array changed');'bar', scope, 'bar string changed');
    History.deepWatch(' for d in data', scope, 'name in data changed');
    History.deepWatch(' for (key, od) in otherdata', scope,
      'name in otherdata changed');
    // change some things outright
    scope.$apply('pigs = "chickens"');
    scope.$apply('foo = [4,5,6]');

    Next we'll initiate a batch. You will receive a special new scope within your Watch object that you can then pass to History.rollback(), which will roll back all changes made within the batch closure. See below.

    The function you pass to History.batch() will accept a scope parameter, and that is actually a child scope of the real scope. Changes are made here and propagated to the parent's history.

    Note the second parameter, which is optional and defaults to $rootScope, just like the other functions in the API.

    var w = History.batch(function (child) {
      child.$apply('foo[0] = 7');
      child.$apply('foo[1] = 8');
      child.$apply('foo[2] = 9'); // 3 changes to "foo"
      child.$apply('data[0].name = "marvin"'); // one change to the "data" array
      child.$apply('otherdata[1].name = "pookie"'); // one change to the "otherdata" array
      child.$apply('bar = "spam"'); // change to a string
      child.$apply('pigs = "cows"'); // change to something *not* watched
    }, scope);

    You do not have to use the child variable unless you want to. It's perfectly legit, if you are in a digest loop already, to just make assignments. The following is equivalent, again, if you are already in a digest (if you are using this code in a controller, you are likely in a digest; if you're using it in a directive, you may or may not be depending on what you're up to):

    var w = History.batch(function (child) {[0] = 7;[1] = 8;[2] = 9;[0].name = "marvin";
      scope.otherdata[1].name = "pookie"; = "spam";
      scope.pigs = "cows";
    }, scope);

    Let's make sure to notify our lovely console that a rollback happened:

    w.addRollbackHandler('myRollbackHandler', function($locals) {
      // $locals is the same as the "transaction" property of the watch object "w"
      console.log('a rollback happened against scope ' + $locals.$id);

    Now let's issue a rollback. Note that you can also listen for the History.batchBegan and History.batchEnded events that are broadcast from the $rootScope, if you want to implement more general functionality.

    var transaction = w.transaction;

    Let's see what we ended up with by viewing some assertions:

    Q.deepEqual(, [4, 5, 6], 'foo is again [4,5,6]');
    Q.equal(, 'baz', 'bar is again baz');
    // no change here, because we didn't watch "pigs"
    Q.equal(scope.pigs, 'cows', 'pigs is still cows (no change)');
    Q.equal([0].name, 'foo', 'data[0].name is again "foo"');
    Q.equal(scope.otherdata[1].name, 'foo', 'otherdata[1].name is again foo');
    // see that you can undo further in some cases
    History.undo('foo', scope);
    Q.deepEqual(, [1, 2, 3], 'foo is again [1,2,3]');
    // see you can redo again
    History.redo('foo', scope);
    Q.deepEqual(, [4, 5, 6], 'foo is again [4,5,6]');
    // but also that you can't redo past the rollback.
    // I suppose this could change, but it would put a lot
    // of extra crap in the history.
    Q.ok(!History.canRedo('foo', scope), 'assert no more history');

    This batching hasn't been tested with the "lazy" functionality mentioned earlier (yet), but it will certainly help you support mass changes to many variables at once, and be able to report those changes to the user.


    To debug, you can grab the stack itself by asking the service for it:


    Properties of the History service include:

    • history (the complete history stack for all of the scopes and expressions)
    • pointers (which keeps a pointer to the index in the history we are at)
    • watches (which are the actual $watch functions on the Scope objects)
    • lazyWatches (which are the stored "lazy" watches if you are using them)
    • watchObjs (which stores all Watch objects created)
    • descriptions (which stores any description parameters passed to watch())


    Christopher Hiller at Decipher, Inc.

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