Java Prototype Pattern tutorial with example


In many cases, creating a new instance is a costly operation. Fortunately, we can copy or clone an instance of an existing one instead of creating from scratch. This approach can be done by using Prototype Pattern, one of Creational Patterns.


This is Definition from GoF:

Specify the kinds of objects to create using a prototypical instance, and create new objects by copying this prototype.
Examples of Prototype Pattern

Suppose that we want to buy a birthday cake. The cake is like the prototype with process of creating the same cakes hundreds of times. When we need a cake, the store only need to clone it, and for additional requirement, we can ask for printing specific name on the cake.

Now look at another example, a smartphone company produces thousands of mobiles with the same hardware and software. But with different model (color), the price could change.

Sample prototype structure


We have:
– Basic prototype: SmartPhone abstract class with clone() method.
– Concrete prototypes: Samsung and Apple implement the clone() method.

Implement Java Prototype Pattern

Class Diagram


– We set SmartPhone class with a default additionalPrice = 0. It will be also a field with default value in Samsung and Apple subclasses.
Samsung class and Apple class have their own base price. is the client.

We will clone Samsung object and Apple object, then we add additional price for each object.

Project Structure


Step by Step
Create an abstract class that implements Cloneable

Create subclass with clone() method

Run Test


Pros & Cons of using Prototype Pattern

  • Reusability: In case we want to create an instance of a class with many default values, or in same complicated processes, Prototype Pattern is useful. We can focus on other activities instead.
  • Reducing initialization: We can create new instances at a cheaper cost.
  • Simple copy process: We only need to call clone() method, it is simple and easy-reading.
  • Each subclass have to implement clone() method or alternative copy methods.
  • Building clone for existing class may be complicated. For example, implementing Cloneable interface can constrain all subclasses/implementation to implement clone() method (some class may not need).
  • If the class is in circular references, implementing clone() method in shallow copy way may cause problem. In the example with fields are primitive, it is ok, but when class object contains many fields that have references to other objects, we need to implement deep copy.

By grokonez | March 28, 2019.

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