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I am learning GoF Java Design Patterns and I want to see some real life examples of them. Can you guys point to some good usage of these Design Patterns, preferably in Java's core libraries?

Thank you!

Answered By: BalusC ( 1309)

You can find an overview of a lot design patterns in Wikipedia. It also mentions which patterns are mentioned by GoF. I'll sum them up here and try to assign as much as possible pattern implementations found in both the Java SE and Java EE API's.

Creational patterns

Abstract factory (recognizeable by creational methods returning the factory itself which in turn can be used to create another abstract/interface type)

Builder (recognizeable by creational methods returning the instance itself)

Factory method (recognizeable by creational methods returning an implementation of an abstract/interface type)

Prototype (recognizeable by creational methods returning a different instance of itself with the same properties)

Singleton (recognizeable by creational methods returning the same instance (usually of itself) everytime)

Structural patterns

Adapter (recognizeable by creational methods taking an instance of different abstract/interface type and returning an implementation of own/another abstract/interface type which decorates/overrides the given instance)

Bridge (recognizeable by creational methods taking an instance of different abstract/interface type and returning an implementation of own abstract/interface type which delegates/uses the given instance)

  • None comes to mind yet. A fictive example would be new LinkedHashMap(LinkedHashSet<K>, List<V>) which returns an unmodifiable linked map which doesn't clone the items, but uses them. The java.util.Collections#newSetFromMap() and singletonXXX() methods however comes close.

Composite (recognizeable by behavioral methods taking an instance of same abstract/interface type into a tree structure)

Decorator (recognizeable by creational methods taking an instance of same abstract/interface type which adds additional behaviour)

Facade (recognizeable by behavioral methods which internally uses instances of different independent abstract/interface types)

Flyweight (recognizeable by creational methods returning a cached instance, a bit the "multiton" idea)

Proxy (recognizeable by creational methods which returns an implementation of given abstract/interface type which in turn delegates/uses a different implementation of given abstract/interface type)

The Wikipedia example is IMHO a bit poor, lazy loading has actually completely nothing to do with the proxy pattern at all.

Behavioral patterns

Chain of responsibility (recognizeable by behavioral methods which (indirectly) invokes the same method in another implementation of same abstract/interface type in a queue)

Command (recognizeable by behavioral methods in an abstract/interface type which invokes a method in an implementation of a different abstract/interface type which has been encapsulated by the command implementation during its creation)

Interpreter (recognizeable by behavioral methods returning a structurally different instance/type of the given instance/type; note that parsing/formatting is not part of the pattern, determining the pattern and how to apply it is)

Iterator (recognizeable by behavioral methods sequentially returning instances of a different type from a queue)

Mediator (recognizeable by behavioral methods taking an instance of different abstract/interface type (usually using the command pattern) which delegates/uses the given instance)

Memento (recognizeable by behavioral methods which internally changes the state of the whole instance)

Observer (or Publish/Subscribe) (recognizeable by behavioral methods which invokes a method on an instance of another abstract/interface type, depending on own state)

State (recognizeable by behavioral methods which changes its behaviour depending on the instance's state which can be controlled externally)

Strategy (recognizeable by behavioral methods in an abstract/interface type which invokes a method in an implementation of a different abstract/interface type which has been passed-in as method argument into the strategy implementation)

Template method (recognizeable by behavioral methods which already have a "default" behaviour definied by an abstract type)

Visitor (recognizeable by two different abstract/interface types which has methods definied which takes each the other abstract/interface type; the one actually calls the method of the other and the other executes the desired strategy on it)


When looking beyond the RAD (drag-drop and configure) way of building User Interfaces that many tools encourage you are likely to come across 2 design patterns called Model-View-Controller and Model-View-Presenter. My question has two parts to it:

  1. What issues do these patterns address?
  2. How are they similar?
  3. How are they different?
Answered By: Glenn Block ( 672)


In MVP, the Presenter contains the UI business logic for the View. All invocations from the View delegate directly to Presenter. The Presenter is also decoupled directly from the View and talks to it through an interface. This is to allow mocking of the View in a unit test. One common attribute of MVP is that there has to be a lot of two-way dispatching. For example, when someone clicks the "Save" button, the event handler delegates to the Presenter's "OnSave" method. Once the save is completed, the Presenter will then call back the View through its interface so that the View can display that the save has completed.

MVP tends to be a very natural pattern for achieving separated presentation in Web Forms. The reason is that the View is always created first by the ASP.NET runtime. You can find out more about both variants.

Two primary variations

Passive View: The View is as dumb as possible and contains almost zero logic. The Presenter is a middle man that talks to the View and the Model. The View and Model are completely shielded from one another. The Model may raise events, but the Presenter subscribes to them for updating the View. In Passive View there is no direct data binding, instead the View exposes setter properties which the Presenter uses to set the data. All state is managed in the Presenter and not the View.

  • Pro: maximum testability surface; clean separation of the View and Model
  • Con: more work (for example all the setter properties) as you are doing all the data binding yourself.

Supervising Controller: The Presenter handles user gestures. The View binds to the Model directly through data binding. In this case it's the Presenter's job to pass off the Model to the View so that it can bind to it. The Presenter will also contain logic for gestures like pressing a button, navigation, etc.

  • Pro: by leveraging databinding the amount of code is reduced.
  • Con: there's less testable surface (because of data binding), and there's less encapsulation in the View since it talks directly to the Model.


In the MVC, the Controller is responsible for determining which View is displayed in response to any action including when the application loads. This differs from MVP where actions route through the View to the Presenter. In MVC, every action in the View correlates with a call to a Controller along with an action. In the web each action involves a call to a URL on the other side of which there is a Controller who responds. Once that Controller has completed its processing, it will return the correct View. The sequence continues in that manner throughout the life of the application:

    Action in the View
        -> Call to Controller
        -> Controller Logic
        -> Controller returns the View.

One other big difference about MVC is that the View does not directly bind to the Model. The view simply renders, and is completely stateless. In implementations of MVC the View usually will not have any logic in the code behind. This is contrary to MVP where it is absolutely necessary as if the View does not delegate to the Presenter, it will never get called.

Presentation Model

One other pattern to look at is the Presentation Model pattern. In this pattern there is no Presenter. Instead the View binds directly to a Presentation Model. The Presentation Model is a Model crafted specifically for the View. This means this Model can expose properties that one would never put on a domain model as it would be a violation of separation-of-concerns. In this case, the Presentation Model binds to the domain model, and may subscribe to events coming from that Model. The View then subscribes to events coming from the Presentation Model and updates itself accordingly. The Presentation Model can expose commands which the view uses for invoking actions. The advantage of this approach is that you can essentially remove the code-behind altogether as the PM completely encapsulates all of the behaviour for the view. This pattern is a very strong candidate for use in WPF applications and is also called Model-View-ViewModel.

There is a MSDN article about the Presentation Model and a section in the Composite Application Guidance for WPF (former Prism) about Separated Presentation Patterns

Ewan Makepeace

The Singleton pattern is a fully paid up member of the GoF Patterns Book but lately seems rather orphaned by the developer world. I still use quite a lot of singletons, especially for Factory classes, and while you have to be a bit careful about multithreading issues (like any class actually), I fail to see why they are so awful.

This site especially seems to assume that everyone agrees that Singletons are evil. Why?

Answered By: Jim Burger ( 267)

Paraphrased from Brian Button:

  1. They are generally used as a global instance, why is that so bad? Because you hide the dependencies of your application in your code, instead of exposing them through the interfaces. Making something global to avoid passing it around is a code smell.

  2. They violate the Single Responsibility Principle: by virtue of the fact that they control their own creation and lifecycle.

  3. They inherently cause code to be tightly coupled. This makes faking them out under test rather difficult in many cases.

  4. They carry state around for the lifetime of the app. Another hit to testing since you can end up with a situation where tests need to be ordered which is a big no no for unit tests. Why? Because each unit test should be independent from the other.

Jorge C&#243;rdoba

What real (i.e. practical) difference exist between a static class and a singleton pattern?

Both can be invoked without instantiation, both provide only with one "instance" and neither of them is threadsafe. Is there any other difference?

Answered By: Jon Skeet ( 186)

What makes you say that either a singleton or a static method isn't thread-safe? Usually both should be implemented to be thread-safe.

The big difference between a singleton and a bunch of static methods is that singletons can implement interfaces (or derive from useful base classes, although that's less common IME), so you can pass around the singleton as if it were "just another" implementation.

My singleton accessor method is usually some variant of:

static MyClass *gInstance = NULL;

+ (MyClass *)instance
        if (gInstance == NULL)
            gInstance = [[self alloc] init];


What could I be doing to improve this?

Answered By: Robbie Hanson ( 209)

Another option is to use the +(void)initialize method. From the documentation:

The runtime sends initialize to each class in a program exactly one time just before the class, or any class that inherits from it, is sent its first message from within the program. (Thus the method may never be invoked if the class is not used.) The runtime sends the initialize message to classes in a thread-safe manner. Superclasses receive this message before their subclasses.

So you could do something akin to this:

static MySingleton *sharedSingleton;

+ (void)initialize
    static BOOL initialized = NO;
        initialized = YES;
        sharedSingleton = [[MySingleton alloc] init];

Since I started learning F# and OCaml last year, I've read a huge number of articles which insist that design patterns (especially in Java) are workarounds for the missing features in imperative languages. One article I found makes a fairly strong claim:

Most people I've met have read the Design Patterns book by the Gang of Four. Any self respecting programmer will tell you that the book is language agnostic and the patterns apply to software engineering in general, regardless of which language you use. This is a noble claim. Unfortunately it is far removed from the truth.

Functional languages are extremely expressive. In a functional language one does not need design patterns because the language is likely so high level, you end up programming in concepts that eliminate design patterns all together.

The main features of functional programming include functions as first-class values, currying, immutable values, etc. It doesn't seem obvious to me that OO design patterns are approximating any of those features.

Additionally, in functional languages which support OOP (such as F# and OCaml), it seems obvious to me that programmers using these languages would use the same design patterns found available to every other OOP language. In fact, right now I use F# and OCaml everyday, and there are no striking differences between the patterns I use in these languages vs the patterns I use when I write in Java.

Is there any truth to the claim that functional programming eliminates the need for OOP design patterns? If so, could you post or link to an example of a typical OOP design pattern and its functional equivalent?

Answered By: jalf ( 376)

The blog post you quoted overstates its claim a bit. FP doesn't eliminate the need for design patterns. The term "design patterns" just isn't widely used to describe the same thing in FP languages. But they exist. Functional languages have plenty of best practice rules of the form "when you encounter problem X, use code that looks like Y", which is basically what a design pattern is.

However, it's correct that most OOP-specific design patterns are pretty much irrelevant in functional languages.

I don't think it should be particularly controversial to say that design patterns in general only exist to patch up shortcomings in the language. And if another language can solve the same problem trivially, that other language won't have need of a design pattern for it. Users of that language may not even be aware that the problem exists, because, well, it's not a problem in that language.

The main features of functional programming include functions as first-class values, currying, immutable values, etc. It doesn't seem obvious to me that OO design patterns are approximating any of those features.

What is the command pattern, if not an approximation of first-class functions? :) In a FP language, you'd simply pass a function as the argument to another function. In an OOP language, you have to wrap up the function in a class, which you can instantiate and then pass that object to the other function. The effect is the same, but in OOP it's called a design pattern, and it takes a whole lot more code. And what is the abstract factory pattern, if not currying? Pass parameters to a function a bit at a time, to configure what kind of value it spits out when you finally call it.

So yes, several GoF design patterns are rendered redundant in FP languages, because more powerful and easier to use alternatives exist.

But of course there are still design patterns which are not solved by FP languages. What is the FP equivalent of a singleton? (Disregarding for a moment that singletons are generally a terrible pattern to use)

And it works both ways too. As I said, FP has its design patterns too, people just don't usually think of them as such.

But you may have run across monads. What are they, if not a design pattern for "dealing with global state"? That's a problem that's so simple in OOP languages that no equivalent design pattern exists there.

We don't need a design pattern for "increment a static variable", or "read from that socket", because it's just what you do.

In (pure) functional languages, side effects and mutable state are impossible, unless you work around it with the monad "design pattern", or any of the other methods for allowing the same thing.

Additionally, in functional languages which support OOP (such as F# and OCaml), it seems obvious to me that programmers using these languages would use the same design patterns found available to every other OOP language. In fact, right now I use F# and OCaml everyday, and there are no striking differences between the patterns I use in these languages vs the patterns I use when I write in Java.

Perhaps because you're still thinking imperatively? A lot of people, after dealing with imperative languages all their lives, have a hard time giving up on that habit when they try a functional language. (I've seen some pretty funny attempts at F#, where literally every function was just a string of 'let' statements, basically as if you'd taken a C program, and replaced all semicolons with 'let'. :))

But another possibility might be that you just haven't realized that you're solving problems trivially which would require design patterns in an OOP language.

When you use currying, or pass a function as an argument to another, stop and think about how you'd do that in an OOP language.

Is there any truth to the claim that functional programming eliminates the need for OOP design patterns?

Yep. :) When you work in a FP language, you no longer need the OOP-specific design patterns. But you still need some general design patterns, like MVC or other non-OOP specific stuff, and you need a couple of new FP-specific "design patterns" instead. All languages have their shortcomings, and design patterns are usually how we work around them.

Anyway, you may find it interesting to try your hand at "cleaner" FP languages, like ML (my personal favorite, at least for learning purposes), or Haskell, where you don't have the OOP crutch to fall back on when you're faced with something new.

Edit: As expected, a few people objected to my definition of design patterns as "patching up shortcomings in a language", so here's my justification: As already said, most design patterns are specific to one programming paradigm, or sometimes even one specific language. Often, they solve problems that only exist in that paradigm (See monads for FP, or abstract factories for OOP). Why doesn't the abstract factory pattern exist in FP? Because the problem it tries to solve does not exist there. So, if a problem exists in OOP languages, which does not exist in FP languages, then clearly that is a shortcoming of OOP languages. The problem can be solved, but your language does not do so, but requires a bunch of boilerplate code from you to work around it. Ideally, we'd like our programming language to magically make all problems go away. Any problem that is still there is in principle a shortcoming of the language. ;)

There have been several questions already posted with specific questions about dependency injection, such as when to use it, what frameworks are there for it. However, here's the newbie question:

What is dependency injection and when/why should or shouldn't it be used?

Edit: While external links for followup reading are always appreciated, I'd like to encourage people to write as complete an answer here as possible, so that SO itself can be a good source to learn. I believe this is the intent of the site.

Answered By: wds ( 153)

Basically, instead of having your objects creating a dependency or asking a factory object to make one for them, you pass the needed dependencies in to the constructor, and you make it somebody else's problem (an object further up the dependency graph, or a dependency injector that builds the dependency graph). A dependency as I'm using it here is any other object the current object needs to hold a reference to.

One of the major advantages of dependency injection is that it can make testing lots easier. Suppose you have an object which in its constructor does something like:

public SomeClass() {
    myObject = Factory.getObject();

This can be troublesome when all you want to do is run some unit tests on SomeClass, especially if myObject is something that does complex disk or network access. So now you're looking at mocking myObject but also somehow intercepting the factory call. Hard. Instead, pass the object in as an argument to the constructor. Now you've moved the problem elsewhere, but testing can become lots easier. Just make a dummy myObject and pass that in. The constructor would now look a bit like:

public SomeClass (MyClass myObject) {
    this.myObject = myObject;

Most people can probably work out the other problems that might arise when not using dependency injection while testing (like classes that do too much work in their constructors etc.) Most of this is stuff I picked up on the Google Testing Blog, to be perfectly honest...

Bjorn Reppen

Is there a difference between the standard "Model View Controller" pattern and Microsoft's Model/View/ViewModel pattern?

Answered By: TStamper ( 67)

MVVM Model-View ViewModel is similar to MVC, Model-View Controller

The controller is replaced with a View Model. The View Model sits below the UI layer. The View Model exposes the data and command objects that the view needs. You could think of this as a container object that view goes to to get its data and actions from. The View Model pulls its data from the model.

Russel East does a blog discussing more in detail Why is MVVM is different from MVC

I'm trying to introduce DI as a pattern here at work and one of our lead developers would like to know: What - if any - are the downsides to using the Dependency Injection pattern?

Note I'm looking here for an - if possible - exhaustive list, not a subjective discussion on the topic.

Clarification: I'm talking about the Dependency Injection pattern (see this article by Martin Fowler), not a specific framework, whether XML-based (such as Spring) or code-based (such as Guice), or "self-rolled".

Edit: Some great further discussion / ranting / debate going on /r/programming here.

Answered By: Mark Seemann ( 288)

It can be dangerous for your career because it may increase your overall knowledge of good API design. Once you learn how proper loosely coupled code can look like, it may turn out that you will have to decline lots of job offers because you would otherwise have to work with tightly coupled legacy apps. Happens to me a lot :)

Riyaz Mohammed Ibrahim

What is an efficient way to implement a singleton pattern in Java?

Answered By: Stephen Denne ( 218)

Use an enum:

   public enum Foo {

Joshua Bloch explained this approach in his Effective Java Reloaded talk at Google I/O 2008: link to video. Also see slides 30-32 of his presentation (effective_java_reloaded.pdf):

The Right Way to Implement a Serializable Singleton

   public enum Elvis {
       private final String[] favoriteSongs =
           { "Hound Dog", "Heartbreak Hotel" };
       public void printFavorites() {

Edit: An online portion of "Effective Java" says:

"This approach is functionally equivalent to the public field approach, except that it is more concise, provides the serialization machinery for free, and provides an ironclad guarantee against multiple instantiation, even in the face of sophisticated serialization or reflection attacks. While this approach has yet to be widely adopted, a single-element enum type is the best way to implement a singleton."