C# Flyweight

The Flyweight design pattern uses sharing to support large numbers of fine-grained objects efficiently.

Frequency of use:
low
C# Design Patterns

UML class diagram

A visualization of the classes and objects participating in this pattern.


Participants

The classes and objects participating in this pattern include:

  • Flyweight  (Character)
    • declares an interface through which flyweights can receive and act on extrinsic state.
  • ConcreteFlyweight   (CharacterA, CharacterB, ..., CharacterZ)
    • implements the Flyweight interface and adds storage for intrinsic state, if any. A ConcreteFlyweight object must be sharable. Any state it stores must be intrinsic, that is, it must be independent of the ConcreteFlyweight object's context.
  • UnsharedConcreteFlyweight   ( not used )
    • not all Flyweight subclasses need to be shared. The Flyweight interface enables sharing, but it doesn't enforce it. It is common for UnsharedConcreteFlyweight objects to have ConcreteFlyweight objects as children at some level in the flyweight object structure (as the Row and Column classes have).
  • FlyweightFactory   (CharacterFactory)
    • creates and manages flyweight objects
    • ensures that flyweight are shared properly. When a client requests a flyweight, the FlyweightFactory objects assets an existing instance or creates one, if none exists.
  • Client   (FlyweightApp)
    • maintains a reference to flyweight(s).
    • computes or stores the extrinsic state of flyweight(s).

Structural code in C#

This structural code demonstrates the Flyweight pattern in which a relatively small number of objects is shared many times by different clients.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

namespace Flyweight.Structural
{
    /// <summary>
    /// Flyweight Design Pattern
    /// </summary>

    public class Program
    {
        public static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            // Arbitrary extrinsic state

            int extrinsicstate = 22;

            FlyweightFactory factory = new FlyweightFactory();

            // Work with different flyweight instances

            Flyweight fx = factory.GetFlyweight("X");
            fx.Operation(--extrinsicstate);

            Flyweight fy = factory.GetFlyweight("Y");
            fy.Operation(--extrinsicstate);

            Flyweight fz = factory.GetFlyweight("Z");
            fz.Operation(--extrinsicstate);

            UnsharedConcreteFlyweight fu = new
                UnsharedConcreteFlyweight();

            fu.Operation(--extrinsicstate);

            // Wait for user

            Console.ReadKey();
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// The 'FlyweightFactory' class
    /// </summary>

    public class FlyweightFactory
    {
        private Dictionary<string, Flyweight> flyweights { get; set; } = new Dictionary<string, Flyweight>();

        // Constructor

        public FlyweightFactory()
        {
            flyweights.Add("X", new ConcreteFlyweight());
            flyweights.Add("Y", new ConcreteFlyweight());
            flyweights.Add("Z", new ConcreteFlyweight());
        }

        public Flyweight GetFlyweight(string key)
        {
            return ((Flyweight)flyweights[key]);
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// The 'Flyweight' abstract class
    /// </summary>

    public abstract class Flyweight
    {
        public abstract void Operation(int extrinsicstate);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// The 'ConcreteFlyweight' class
    /// </summary>

    public class ConcreteFlyweight : Flyweight
    {
        public override void Operation(int extrinsicstate)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("ConcreteFlyweight: " + extrinsicstate);
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// The 'UnsharedConcreteFlyweight' class
    /// </summary>

    public class UnsharedConcreteFlyweight : Flyweight
    {
        public override void Operation(int extrinsicstate)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("UnsharedConcreteFlyweight: " +
                extrinsicstate);
        }
    }
}
Output
ConcreteFlyweight: 21
ConcreteFlyweight: 20
ConcreteFlyweight: 19
UnsharedConcreteFlyweight: 18

Real-world code in C#

This real-world code demonstrates the Flyweight pattern in which a relatively small number of Character objects is shared many times by a document that has potentially many characters.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

namespace Flyweight.RealWorld
{
    /// <summary>
    /// Flyweight Design Pattern
    /// </summary>

    public class Program
    {
        public static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            // Build a document with text

            string document = "AAZZBBZB";
            char[] chars = document.ToCharArray();

            CharacterFactory factory = new CharacterFactory();

            // extrinsic state

            int pointSize = 10;

            // For each character use a flyweight object

            foreach (char c in chars)
            {
                pointSize++;
                Character character = factory.GetCharacter(c);
                character.Display(pointSize);
            }

            // Wait for user

            Console.ReadKey();
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// The 'FlyweightFactory' class
    /// </summary>

    public class CharacterFactory
    {
        private Dictionary<char, Character> characters = new Dictionary<char, Character>();

        public Character GetCharacter(char key)
        {
            // Uses "lazy initialization"

            Character character = null;

            if (characters.ContainsKey(key))
            {
                character = characters[key];
            }
            else
            {
                switch (key)
                {
                    case 'A': character = new CharacterA(); break;
                    case 'B': character = new CharacterB(); break;
                    //...
                    case 'Z': character = new CharacterZ(); break;
                }
                characters.Add(key, character);
            }
            return character;
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// The 'Flyweight' abstract class
    /// </summary>

    public abstract class Character
    {
        protected char symbol;
        protected int width;
        protected int height;
        protected int ascent;
        protected int descent;
        protected int pointSize;

        public abstract void Display(int pointSize);
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// A 'ConcreteFlyweight' class
    /// </summary>

    public class CharacterA : Character
    {
        // Constructor
        public CharacterA()
        {
            symbol = 'A';
            height = 100;
            width = 120;
            ascent = 70;
            descent = 0;
        }

        public override void Display(int pointSize)
        {
            this.pointSize = pointSize;
            Console.WriteLine(symbol +
                " (pointsize " + this.pointSize + ")");
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// A 'ConcreteFlyweight' class
    /// </summary>

    public class CharacterB : Character
    {
        // Constructor

        public CharacterB()
        {
            symbol = 'B';
            height = 100;
            width = 140;
            ascent = 72;
            descent = 0;
        }

        public override void Display(int pointSize)
        {
            this.pointSize = pointSize;
            Console.WriteLine(this.symbol +
                " (pointsize " + this.pointSize + ")");
        }

    }

    // ... C, D, E, etc.

    /// <summary>
    /// A 'ConcreteFlyweight' class
    /// </summary>

    public class CharacterZ : Character
    {
        // Constructor

        public CharacterZ()
        {
            symbol = 'Z';
            height = 100;
            width = 100;
            ascent = 68;
            descent = 0;
        }

        public override void Display(int pointSize)
        {
            this.pointSize = pointSize;
            Console.WriteLine(this.symbol +
                " (pointsize " + this.pointSize + ")");
        }
    }
}
Output
A (pointsize 11)
A (pointsize 12)
Z (pointsize 13)
Z (pointsize 14)
B (pointsize 15)
B (pointsize 16)
Z (pointsize 17)
B (pointsize 18)

.NET Optimized code in C#

The .NET optimized code demonstrates the same real-world situation as above but uses modern, built-in .NET features, such as, generics, reflection, LINQ, lambda functions, etc. You can find an example on our Singleton pattern page.

All other patterns (and much more) are available in our Dofactory .NET product.


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