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ngxtension createInjectionToken - Simplify Angular InjectionToken

Recently, InjectionToken has gained popularity for its versatility, especially when combined with the inject function, which simplifies the consumption of InjectionToken and adds type safety.

Despite these advantages, using InjectionToken can still present challenges in terms of developer experience (DX). In this post, we’ll dive into these challenges and demonstrate how createInjectionToken from ngxtension offers solutions to enhance your Angular development workflow.

Understanding InjectionToken

Creates a token that can be used in a DI Provider.

While the Angular Documentation provides a formal definition, in simpler terms, we can describe InjectionToken as the most basic unit that can participate in Angular’s Dependency Injection (DI) system. Unlike traditional class-based providers, InjectionToken can be as minimal as a string, a number, or an array etc., serving as a versatile and compact building block for DI configurations.

We can create an InjectionToken by creating a new instance of the InjectionToken class

const BASE_URL = new InjectionToken<string>("Base URL");

Next, we can provide values for this token

// application wise
bootstrapApplication(AppComponent, {
    providers: [{ provide: BASE_URL, useValue: "http://base.url" }],

// route (sub-tree)
const routes: Routes = [
        path: "",
        providers: [{ provide: BASE_URL, useValue: "http://route-base.url" }],

// component/directive
    providers: [{ provide: BASE_URL, useValue: "http://component-base.url" }],
export class MyCmp {}

Finally, we can consume this token

export class MyCmp {
    baseUrl = inject(BASE_URL); // string

Note that Angular DI is hierarchical so inject(BASE_URL) will retrieve the value from the closest Injector that provides a value for BASE_URL

Challenges with InjectionToken

In its basic form, InjectionToken suffices for the needs of most Angular users. However, some users encounter challenges when dealing with more advanced use cases, making it difficult to promote widespread adoption of these advanced InjectionToken features.

1. Type-safe provider

The initial challenge we encounter is not an advanced use case; rather, it’s primarily a concern related to DX. Let’s review the process of providing a value for an InjectionToken.

{ provide: BASE_URL, useValue: 'the value' }

In this example, the useValue property has the potential to accept virtually any value, even when TOKEN is explicitly defined as an InjectionToken<string>. For instance, we can inadvertently provide a number as the value for TOKEN:

{ provide: BASE_URL, useValue: 234 }

To compound the issue further, we might inadvertently assign a value that shares some of its APIs with a string, such as an Array:

{ provide: BASE_URL, useValue: ['hi', 'world'] }

const baseUrl = inject(BASE_URL);
baseUrl.slice(0, 1);

In this last scenario, the subtlety of the issue may go unnoticed until unexpected behavior surfaces in the UI.

However, there is a straightforward solution at hand. We can create a custom provide function (no pun intended!) that allows consumers to supply the intended value type:

export const BASE_URL = new InjectionToken<string>("Base URL");

//                                      👇 Enforce value type constraints
export function provideBaseUrl(value: string) {
    return { provide: BASE_URL, useValue: value };

With this approach, consumers now have a clear and type-safe way to provide values for BASE_URL:

bootstrapApplication(AppComponent, {
    providers: [
        provideBaseUrl(123), // a value other than `string` will surface as a compilation error

By using the provideBaseUrl function, we ensure that only values of the correct type are accepted, effectively eliminating the type-safety issue.

2. Did I mention type-safety?

We’ve previously highlighted that useValue lacks strong typing, and this limitation extends to other providers like useFactory as well.

{ provide: BASE_URL, useFactory: () => ['we', 'can', 'do', 'whatever']}

To address this issue, we can employ our custom provide function:

export function provideBaseUrl(url: string | (() => string)) {
    return {
        provide: BASE_URL,
        useFactory: typeof url === "function" ? url : () => url,

With this custom function, providing values for BASE_URL becomes more type-safe:

provideBaseUrl(() => {
    // Note: We can utilize DI in here via `inject()`
    return "http://factory.value.url";

However, the real challenge arises from the varying providers that Angular’s DI can accept, such as

Adapting our custom provide function to handle these different cases can become a constant task.

3. Different ways to achieve the same thing

The InjectionToken provides more flexibility than just using new InjectionToken(description). Specifically, it allows for the use of a factory function, which can change how the InjectionToken is consumed.

export const BASE_URL = new InjectionToken("Base URL", {
    factory: () => {
        return "http://default.url";

When a factory function is provided, it introduces two key characteristics to the token:

A few months back, I penned a (hot take) blog post on using InjectionToken as a Service and have since implemented this approach in various libraries. Throughout this journey, I’ve experienced the challenges of utilizing InjectionToken and, more notably, explaining its advanced usages to others.

Enter createInjectionToken

To simplify the usage of nearly all InjectionToken instances across my projects, I’ve created a utility called createInjectionToken.

createInjectionToken is a function that takes a factory function and additional options as parameters. The result of calling createInjectionToken is a tuple [injectFn, provideFn, TOKEN], offering both convenience in usage and flexibility for consumers to rename these components as needed.

1. Creating a root token

export const [injectFn, provideFn, TOKEN] = createInjectionToken(
    () => "root factory",

By default, createInjectionToken creates a root token. The consumers can immediately retrieve the value by calling injectFn

export class MyCmp {
    value = injectFn(); // string

2. Creating a non-root token

export const [injectFn, provideFn, TOKEN] = createInjectionToken(
    () => "non root factory",
    { isRoot: false },

To create a non-root token, pass isRoot: false to the 2nd argument of createInjectionToken. Now, the consumers need to provide the value for the token by invoking provideFn() before they can retrieve the value with injectFn()

    //              👇 automatically use the factory function
    providers: [provideFn()],
export class MyCmp {
    value = injectFn(); // string


As the name suggests, injectFn is a CIF (Custom Inject Function) for effortlessly accessing the token’s value:

injectFn(); // string

Furthermore, injectFn offers a high degree of type-safety by accepting an InjectOptions object, enabling precise control over the Resolution Modifier:

export class MyCmp {
    value = injectFn({ self: true }); // string
    parentValue = injectFn({ skipSelf: true, optional: true }); // string | null

Importantly, injectFn is equipped to handle the subtleties of the Injection Context by accepting an optional Injector:

export class MyCmp {
    injector = inject(Injector);

    ngOnInit() {
        const baseUrl = injectFn({ injector: this.injector }); // Functions seamlessly, returning a string

This comprehensive functionality enhances both usability and type safety.

3. Creating a Token with Dependencies

export const [injectDep, provideDep, DEP] = createInjectionToken(() => 1);

export const [injectFn, provideFn, TOKEN] = createInjectionToken(
    (dep: number) => dep * 2,
    //        👇 This is strongly typed based on the parameters of the factory function
    { deps: [DEP] },
    // { deps: [] }, // Compilation error
    // { deps: [OTHER_DEP_THAT_IS_NOT_NUMBER] }, // Compilation error
    // { deps: [DEP, SOME_OTHER_DEP] }, // Compilation error

You can create a token that depends on other tokens by simply configuring the factory function to accept specific arguments and providing those dependencies through the strongly-typed deps option. The rules of Hierarchical Dependency Injection still apply in this context.

export class MyCmp {
    value = injectFn(); // 2 (1 * 2)

When isRoot is set to false, consumers must first provide the value using provideFn() before they can access it with injectFn().

    providers: [provideDep(5), provideFn()],
export class MyCmp {
    value = injectFn(); // 10

This approach allows you to create tokens with dependencies while maintaining strong typing and adherence to the principles of Hierarchical Dependency Injection.

4. Creating a multi Token

export const [injectLocales, provideLocale] = createInjectionToken(() => "en", {
    multi: true,

By setting multi to true, we’ve defined a multi token. When multi is enabled, the behavior of injectFn and provideFn undergoes a slight change.

    providers: [
        provideLocale(), // Provides the first value using the factory function
        provideLocale("es"), // Provides the second value. Note that it accepts a string instead of a string[]
        provideLocale(() => "fr"), // Provides the third value using a factory function
export class MyCmp {
    locales = injectLocales(); // ['en', 'es', 'fr']

It’s important to highlight that a multi token will automatically set isRoot to false.

createInjectionToken is made publicly available via ngxtension. Check the documentation for more details.


In conclusion, we’ve embarked on a journey to unravel the intricacies of Angular’s Dependency Injection system and explore how InjectionToken can sometimes pose type-safety and developer experience challenges. Along the way, we’ve introduced a valuable tool in the form of createInjectionToken, a utility that simplifies the process of creating and consuming tokens while enhancing type safety.

Check out ngxtension for more cool utilities. Until next time 👋

Published on Mon Oct 09 2023