Object Creational Patterns and Instantiation
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by Brian Mains
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Factory Pattern

The factory pattern is responsible for performing the direct instantiation of an object.  It can take some sort of designator: a string, a generic type, an enumeration, or some other key to dynamically create the reference of the object for you.  Let us take a look at an object.

Listing 4

public class Verse 
 public string Name { .. } 
 public int Number { .. } 
 public string Text { .. } 
 internal Verse(string name, int number, string text) { .. } 

Note that the class Verse has an internal constructor, so other classes within the Visual Studio project can instantiate it, but the general public that consumes this project cannot.  This forces any activity on this object to go through the factory.  The following is the factory definition.

Listing 5

public static class verseFactory 
 public static Verse GetVerse(string name) 
 //Access the data layer to get the specific verse by name public static VerseCollection GetVerses(object parent) 
 //Access the data layer to create a collection of verses by name 

The factory is a static definition; it handles performing data retrieval from the data layer, as well as the creation of the verse objects.  The method definition for GetVerses could look something like this:

Listing 6

VersesDataGateway gateway = new VersesDataGateway(); 
 DataTable versesTable = gateway.GetVerses(); 
 VerseCollection versesList = new VerseCollection(); 
 foreach (DataRow versesRow in versesTable.Rows 
 Verse verse = new Verse( 
 return versesList; 

Notice that the factory is handling the instantiating of the object.  Because this class would contain several methods that retrieve data from the back-end data store, I would move the verse creation capabilities into another method, but you get the idea.  This is what the factory could do to get the data from the data store.  The factory can handle more responsibility, such as updating the changes from the Verse class back to the data store, deleting items from the data store or any other responsibility you may want to give it.

However, suppose you wanted to give the factory a more dynamic functionality.  For instance, suppose you wanted to have a collection of objects that could be instantiated dynamically, based on a key value. This factory could then add/remove support to keys very easily, but how would that be implemented?  To illustrate, let us use an example. Suppose you had an evaluator factory which returned the appropriate evaluator based on a string key that was passed in.  This list of evaluators can be stored in the configuration file.

Listing 7

 <add key="month" type="Nucleo.Evaluators.MonthEvaluator,Nucleo" /> 
 <add key="day" type="Nucleo.Evaluators.DayEvaluator,Nucleo" /> 
 <add key="year" type="Nucleo.Evaluators.YearEvaluator,Nucleo" /> 
 <add key="week" type="Nucleo.Evaluators.WeekEvaluator,Nucleo" /> 

If you are interested in creating a custom configuration section and their child collections, you can read my series of articles from the links below.

·         http://dotnetslackers.com/articles/customconfiguration/Custom_Configuration_Sections.aspx

·         http://dotnetslackers.com/articles/customconfiguration/Configuration_Section_Validators.aspx

·         http://dotnetslackers.com/articles/customconfiguration/Custom_Configuration_Collections.aspx

·         http://dotnetslackers.com/articles/customconfiguration/Custom_Provider_Configuration_Sections.aspx

Our factory would be able to connect to the custom configuration section and extract the object keys/types that it needs to instantiate.  Below is a possible implementation of that solution.  Note that the evaluators' collection would most likely be a static collection of evaluators, which the consumer of the factory can reference via the key.  By giving each of the evaluators a common base class, each custom evaluator can be easily referenced.

Listing 8

foreach (EvaluatorElement element in evaluatorSection.Evaluators)
  Type evalType = Type.GetType(element.Type);
  EvaluatorBase evalBase = (EvaluatorBase)Activator.CreateInstance(evalType);
  _evaluators.Add(element.Key, evalBase);

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