Change Detection

Relevant official examples: component_change_detection.


Bevy allows you to easily detect when data is changed. You can use this to perform actions in response to changes.

One of the main use cases is optimization – avoiding unnecessary work by only doing it if the relevant data has changed. Another use case is triggering special actions to occur on changes, like configuring something or sending the data somewhere.

Components

Filtering

You can make a query that only yields entities if specific components on them have been modified.

Use query filters:

  • Added<T>: detect new component instances
    • if the component was added to an existing entity
    • if a new entity with the component was spawned
  • Changed<T>: detect component instances that have been changed
    • triggers when the component is accessed mutably
    • also triggers if the component is newly-added (as per Added)

(If you want to react to removals, see the page on removal detection. It works differently and is much trickier to use.)

/// Print the stats of friendly players when they change
fn debug_stats_change(
    query: Query<
        // components
        (&Health, &PlayerXp),
        // filters
        (Without<Enemy>, Or<(Changed<Health>, Changed<PlayerXp>)>), 
    >,
) {
    for (health, xp) in query.iter() {
        eprintln!(
            "hp: {}+{}, xp: {}",
            health.hp, health.extra, xp.0
        );
    }
}

/// detect new enemies and print their health
fn debug_new_hostiles(
    query: Query<(Entity, &Health), Added<Enemy>>,
) {
    for (entity, health) in query.iter() {
        eprintln!("Entity {:?} is now an enemy! HP: {}", entity, health.hp);
    }
}

Checking

If you want to access all the entities, as normal, regardless of if they have been modified, but you just want to check the status, you can use the special ChangeTrackers<T> query parameter.

/// Make sprites flash red on frames when the Health changes
fn debug_damage(
    mut query: Query<(&mut Sprite, ChangeTrackers<Health>)>,
) {
    for (mut sprite, tracker) in query.iter_mut() {
        // detect if the Health changed this frame
        if tracker.is_changed() {
            sprite.color = Color::RED;
        } else {
            // extra check so we don't mutate on every frame without changes
            if sprite.color != Color::WHITE {
                sprite.color = Color::WHITE;
            }
        }
    }
}

This is useful for processing all entities, but doing different things depending on if they have been modified.

Resources

For resources, change detection is provided via methods on the Res/ResMut system parameters.

fn check_res_changed(
    my_res: Res<MyResource>,
) {
    if my_res.is_changed() {
        // do something
    }
}

fn check_res_added(
    // use Option, not to panic if the resource doesn't exist yet
    my_res: Option<Res<MyResource>>,
) {
    if let Some(my_res) = my_res {
        // the resource exists

        if my_res.is_added() {
            // it was just added
            // do something
        }
    }
}

Note that change detection cannot currently be used to detect states changes (via the State resource) (bug).

What gets detected?

Changed detection is triggered by DerefMut. Simply accessing components via a mutable query, without actually performing a &mut access, will not trigger it.

This makes change detection quite accurate. You can rely on it to optimize your game's performance, or to otherwise trigger things to happen.

Also note that when you mutate a component, Bevy does not track if the new value is actually different from the old value. It will always trigger the change detection. If you want to avoid that, simply check it yourself:

fn update_player_xp(
    mut query: Query<&mut PlayerXp>,
) {
    for mut xp in query.iter_mut() {
        let new_xp = maybe_lvl_up(&xp);

        // avoid triggering change detection if the value is the same
        if new_xp != *xp {
            *xp = new_xp;
        }
    }
}

Change detection works on a per-system granularity, and is reliable. A system will not detect changes that it made itself, only those done by other systems, and only if it has not seen them before (the changes happened since the last time it ran). If your system only runs sometimes (such as with states or run criteria), you do not have to worry about missing changes.

Possible Pitfalls

Beware of frame delay / 1-frame-lag. This can occur if Bevy runs the detecting system before the changing system. The detecting system will see the change the next time it runs, typically on the next frame update.

If you need to ensure that changes are handled immediately / during the same frame, you can use explicit system ordering.

However, when detecting component additions with Added<T> (which are typically done using Commands), this is not enough; you need stages.