Java Factory Pattern Explained

What is the most usual method of creating an instance of a class in java? Most people will answer this question: “using new keyword“. Well, it is considered old-fashioned now. Let’s see how??

If object creation code is spread in the whole application, and if you need to change the process of object creation then you need to go in each and every place to make necessary changes. After finishing this article, while writing your application, consider using the Java factory pattern.

In my previous post, “Singleton design pattern in java“, we discussed various ways to create an instance of a class such that there can not exist another instance of same class in same JVM.

In this post, I will demonstrate another creational pattern, i.e. Factory pattern, for creating instances for your classes. Factory, as the name suggests, is a place to create some different products which are somehow similar in features yet divided into categories.

In Java, factory pattern is used to create instances of different classes of the same type.

Table of Contents

1. When to implement factory pattern?
2. Factory Pattern Implementation
3. Advantages of factory pattern
4. Final notes

1. When to use factory pattern?

Factory pattern introduces loose coupling between classes which is the most important principle one should consider and apply while designing the application architecture. Loose coupling can be introduced in application architecture by programming against abstract entities rather than concrete implementations. This not only makes our architecture more flexible but also less fragile.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s see how a factory implementation will look like.

class_diagram_of_factory_pattern_in_java1-8964987

Above class-diagram depicts a common scenario using an example of a car factory which is able to build 3 types of cars i.e. small, sedan and luxury. Building a car requires many steps from allocating accessories to final makeup. These steps can be written in programming as methods and should be called while creating an instance of a specific car type.

If we are unfortunate then we will create instances of car types (e.g. SmallCar) in our application classes and thus we will expose the car building logic to the outside world and this is certainly not good. It also prevents us in making changes to car making process because the code is not centralized, and making changes in all composing classes seems not feasible.

2. Java Factory Pattern Example

So far we have design the classes need to be designed for making a CarFactory. Let’s create them now.

2.1. Object types

CarType will hold the types of car and will provide car types to all other classes.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public enum CarType {
    SMALL, SEDAN, LUXURY
}

2.2. Object implementations

Car is parent class of all car instances and it will also contain the common logic applicable in car making of all types.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public abstract class Car {

	public Car(CarType model) {
		this.model = model;
		arrangeParts();
	}

	private void arrangeParts() {
		// Do one time processing here
	}

	// Do subclass level processing in this method
	protected abstract void construct();

	private CarType model = null;

	public CarType getModel() {
		return model;
	}

	public void setModel(CarType model) {
		this.model = model;
	}
}

LuxuryCar is concrete implementation of car type LUXURY.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public class LuxuryCar extends Car {

	LuxuryCar() {
		super(CarType.LUXURY);
		construct();
	}

	@Override
	protected void construct() {
		System.out.println("Building luxury car");
		// add accessories
	}
}

SmallCar is concrete implementation of car type SMALL.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public class SmallCar extends Car {

	SmallCar() {
		super(CarType.SMALL);
		construct();
	}

	@Override
	protected void construct() {
		System.out.println("Building small car");
		// add accessories
	}
}

SedanCar is concrete implementation of car type SEDAN.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public class SedanCar extends Car {

	SedanCar() {
		super(CarType.SEDAN);
		construct();
	}

	@Override
	protected void construct() {
		System.out.println("Building sedan car");
		// add accessories
	}
}

2.3. Factory to create objects

CarFactory.java is our main class implemented using factory pattern. It instantiates a car instance only after determining its type.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public class CarFactory {
	public static Car buildCar(CarType model) {
		Car car = null;
		switch (model) {
		case SMALL:
			car = new SmallCar();
			break;

		case SEDAN:
			car = new SedanCar();
			break;

		case LUXURY:
			car = new LuxuryCar();
			break;

		default:
			// throw some exception
			break;
		}
		return car;
	}
}

2.4. Test factory pattern

In TestFactoryPattern, we will test our factory code. Lets run this class.

package designPatterns.creational.factory;

public class TestFactoryPattern {
	public static void main(String[] args) {
		System.out.println(CarFactory.buildCar(CarType.SMALL));
		System.out.println(CarFactory.buildCar(CarType.SEDAN));
		System.out.println(CarFactory.buildCar(CarType.LUXURY));
	}
}

Program Output.

Building small car
designPatterns.creational.factory.SmallCar@7c230be4
Building sedan car
designPatterns.creational.factory.SedanCar@60e1e567
Building luxury car
designPatterns.creational.factory.LuxuryCar@e9bfee2

As you can see, the factory is able to return any type of car instance it is requested for. It will help us in making any kind of changes in car making process without even touching the composing classes i.e. classes using CarFactory.

3. Benefits of factory pattern

By now, you should be able to count the main advantages of using the factory pattern. Let’s note down:

  1. The creation of an object precludes its reuse without significant duplication of code.
  2. The creation of an object requires access to information or resources that should not be contained within the composing class.
  3. The lifetime management of the generated objects must be centralized to ensure a consistent behavior within the application.

4. Final notes

Factory pattern is most suitable where there is some complex object creation steps are involved. To ensure that these steps are centralized and not exposed to composing classes, factory pattern should be used. We can see many realtime examples of factory pattern in JDK itself e.g.

I hope, I have included enough information in this Java factory pattern example to make this post informative.

If you still have some doubt on abstract factory design pattern in Java, please leave a comment. I will be happy to discuss with you.

Happy Learning !!

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