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Learn how to use services to encapsulate global state and data in your application.


Services are a relatively simple concept in Desk. You can register a service with the application context to make it available to the rest of the application, and then use it to encapsulate global state and data.

Why? — Rather than forcing all data to be passed around between activities, views, and data models at runtime, you can use the global app context to manage a single instance of each service during the lifetime of the application. Some data and state is inherently global to your application, and services are a good way to manage these concerns.

Depending on the complexity of your application, you might use services to manage:

  • User authentication and session data
  • Application settings and configuration
  • API clients and data models
  • Shared business logic
  • Worker processes and background tasks

Implementation — Services are represented by classes that extend the Service class, with a read-only id property. After adding a service to the application context, you can retrieve it by name (i.e. the id), and observe its state using the object from elsewhere in your application.

If you register a service with the same id value, the old service is unlinked (using ManagedObject.unlink()), and the new service is added to the application context in its place.

Creating a service

To create your own service, define a class that extends the (abstract) Service class. The only required property is the id property, which should be a unique string that identifies the service.

  • class Service abstractAn abstract class that represents a named service.
class MyService extends Service {
  readonly id = "Auth";

  // ...

Note: While there are no strict rules about the format of the id property, it’s a good idea to use a consistent naming convention for your services, and to start the ID with a capital letter.

Registering a service

To register a service with the application context, use the app.addService() method. This method takes an instance of the service class, and adds it to the service context immediately — i.e. the instance of ServiceContext available through Since the method returns the app context itself, you can chain the method call with other app context methods such as addActivity().

app.addService(new MyService());

Note: You can register a service with the same ID multiple times, which replaces the previously registered service with the new one each time. This is a feature of the service context, and can be used to replace the global state at runtime, updating any observers that may be listening to the service by ID.

Retrieving a service

To retrieve a service from the application context directly, use these methods of the object — an instance of ServiceContext.

  • get(id)Returns a single service instance by ID, if registered.
  • getAll()Returns an array of all currently registered services.
const auth ="Auth");
const loggedIn = auth?.isAuthenticated();
if (loggedIn) {
  // ...

The get method only returns the current service instance, if one has been registered with the provided ID; otherwise it returns undefined. Use an observer instead to respond to service registration, unlinking, and events as they occur (see below).

Observing a service

In some cases, it’s not enough to retrieve a service once and use it directly.

  • If the service instance is registered at a later point, or changed throughout the lifetime of the application, or
  • If the service emits (change) events that need to be handled, e.g. if an underlying data model changes, or the global state such as in the case of users being logged in or out.

Both the Activity and Service classes provide a method to add an observer to a service by ID.

Observing a service from an activity — Use the Activity.observeService() method to start observing a service from an activity. You can provide a callback function that will be called whenever the service is registered, unlinked, or emits a change event. Alternatively, provide an Observer class or object to handle other events.

class MyActivity extends Activity {
  // ...

  auth = this.observeService<AuthService>("Auth", (service) => {

  updateAuth(service?: AuthService) {
    // ... handle auth change

  doSomething() {
    // ...use the service elsewhere:
    let authService = this.auth.observed;
    if (authService?.isLoggedIn()) {
      // ...

Observing a service from a service — The Service class also provides a method to observe another service by ID. This allows you to add another service as a ‘dependency’ of the current service, and to respond to changes in the other service’s state.

class APIService extends Service {
  id = "API";
  // ...

  // maintain auth token internally
  private _auth = this.observeService<AuthService>("Auth", (service) => {
    this._authToken = service?.getAuthToken() || "";

  private _authToken?: string;

Using configuration options

While not strictly related to services, Desk provides a utility class for managing options that’s well suited for use with services that are in some way configurable. The same class is used throughout the framework to manage configuration options for various classes, including the app context itself. This pattern ensures that both type information (in editor) and default options are available.

  • class ConfigOptions abstractA base class for options objects that can be passed to a constructor or factory function.
class MyServiceOptions extends ConfigOptions {
  endpoint = "";
  timeout = 5000;

class MyService extends Service {
  constructor(options?: ConfigOptions.Arg<MyServiceOptions>) {
    this.options = MyServiceOptions.init(options);
  id = "Configurable";
  options: MyServiceOptions;

  // ...

// use the service as follows:
const s1 = new MyService();

let opts = new MyServiceOptions();
opts.timeout = 10_000;
const s2 = new MyService(opts);

// or use a callback, e.g.:
useWebContext((options) => {
  // ... note options here is also a ConfigOptions instance
  new MyService((options) => {
    // ... set service specific options
    options.timeout = 10_000;

Further reading

Services often encapsulate data models and background tasks. Read more about how Desk supports those concepts in the following articles.

  • Task schedulingUse task queues to manage lists of prioritized asynchronous tasks.
  • Data structuresUse managed lists and records to model hierarchical data in your application.