Timeago pipe


I’ve used two timeago pipes (here and here). Both work, but I wasn’t satisfied with either of them. I finally put in the time to write my own, and thought others might find it useful. I doubt my code is perfect, but this pipe does have the advantages of not using ngZone, not using setTimeout, and relying on the Angular pipe change detector (which is faster than the normal Angular change detector). Also, it is based on a date-fns distance function, and @rapropos has reported that date-fns is more stable than i18next.

import { OnDestroy, ChangeDetectorRef, Pipe, PipeTransform } from '@angular/core';
import { AsyncPipe } from '@angular/common';
import { Observable } from 'rxjs/Observable';
import distanceInWordsToNow from 'date-fns/distance_in_words_to_now';
import getTime from 'date-fns/get_time';
import differenceInMinutes from 'date-fns/difference_in_minutes';
import isFuture from 'date-fns/is_future';

// time ago pipe based on date-fns distance function
// because rapropos said on Ionic Forum that i18n dates were less reliable
// also based on timeAgo pipe by Johannes Rudolph posted at: https://gist.github.com/JohannesRudolph/8e6de056d9e33353f940d9da9e6ffd82

@Pipe({name: 'ago', pure: false})

// expected input is a time (number, string or Date)
// output is a string expressing distance from that time to now, plus the suffix 'ago'
// output refreshes at dynamic intervals, with refresh rate slowing down as the input time gets further away from now
// pipe returns empty string if the input is incorrect type, or is a time in the future

export class TimeAgoPipe implements PipeTransform, OnDestroy {
	private readonly async: AsyncPipe;

	private isDestroyed = false;
	private agoExpression: Observable<string>;

	constructor(private ref: ChangeDetectorRef) {
    	this.async = new AsyncPipe(ref);

	ngOnDestroy() {
		this.isDestroyed = true; // pipe will stop executing after next iteration

	transform(time: number | string | Date): string {
		// error trapping - return empty string if input is a problem
		if (!time) { return '' }
		if (!(typeof time === 'number' || typeof time === 'string' || time instanceof Date)) {
			return '';
		if (isFuture(time)) {
			return ''
		// main transform
		// convert the input to milliseconds, set the pipe to the Observable if not yet done, and return an async pipe
		let milliseconds = getTime(time);
		if (!this.agoExpression) {
			this.agoExpression = this.timeAgo(milliseconds)
		return this.async.transform(this.agoExpression);

	// main text stream
	// inner Observable emits the value TRUE forever
	// each true is mapped to a timeago string, which returns to the template
	// repeat emission of true forever, delayed by newly computed backoff, as long as the destroyed flag is not set
	// once pipe destroyed, Observable completes
	// each time backoff is updated, pipe is marked to be checked by Angular's change detector
	private timeAgo(milliseconds: number): Observable<string> {
		let nextBackoff = 0;
		return Observable.from([true])
		                 .repeatWhen(emitTrue => emitTrue.delay(nextBackoff))
		                 .takeWhile(_ => !this.isDestroyed)
		                 .map(_ => distanceInWordsToNow(milliseconds) + ' ago')
		                 .do(_ => {
		                 	       nextBackoff = this.backoff(milliseconds);
		                 	       this.ref.markForCheck(); // this line can probably be removed if you are using default Angular change detection
		                 	                                // but it's needed if you're using OnPush change detection

	// function that calculates how much time to delay before next emission of TRUE
	// input: time (in milliseconds) that is being transformed by the pipe
	// output: number of milliseconds to backoff
	// note: it is impossible for the input to be a time in the future, because of the error trapping in the transform method
	private backoff(milliseconds: number): number {
		let minutesElapsed = differenceInMinutes(new Date(), milliseconds); // this will always be positive
		let backoffAmountInSeconds: number;
		if (minutesElapsed < 2) {
			backoffAmountInSeconds = 5;
		else if (minutesElapsed >= 2 && minutesElapsed < 5) {
			backoffAmountInSeconds = 15;
		else if (minutesElapsed >=5 && minutesElapsed < 60) {
			backoffAmountInSeconds = 30;
		else if (minutesElapsed >= 60) {
			backoffAmountInSeconds = 300; // 5 minutes
		return backoffAmountInSeconds * 1000;