Alternatives to the Singleton Design Pattern
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by Steven Smith
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The Singleton Pattern

The Singleton pattern works by restricting construction of a class to itself, by making the constructor private.  Then a property (or method) typically called Instance is set up to provide access to the one-and-only-one instance of the class, which is instantiated on the first request.  A UML diagram of the Singleton's structure is shown here:

The code for the naïve implementation of the Singleton pattern follows here.  Do not use this approach in any multi-threaded environment, including an ASP.NET application.

The problem with this implementation is that it is not thread-safe, meaning that the check for (_instance==null) could be executed by two separate threads before either one has instantiated _instance, thus allowing two threads to enter the if {} block and creating two instances of the object.

This issue can be addressed in several ways.  The first is to apply locking, but the simple, brute-force approach to locking doesn't actually work very effectively in terms of efficiency, so as a further optimization one tends to arrive at double-check locking, which works (though not in Java 1.5 or earlier) but is rather complex and very easy to get wrong.

A somewhat simpler approach is to rely on .NET's lazy type instantiation and implement the Instance through the use of a nested class.  This approach is shown here:

Note that the static constructor for Nested() is required, in order to ensure the CLR does not mark the nested type with a flag called beforefieldinit.  You can read more about why this is important in Jon Skeet's excellent article on Singletons, which is where the above LazySingleton pattern comes from.


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User Comments

Title: Just use public static readonly   
Name: Ramon Smits
Date: 2010-12-08 7:42:43 PM
Comment:
Just use a public static readonly member. Easy, fast, lazy and threadsafe!

public class MyClass
{
public static readonly MyClass Instance = new MyClass();
private MyClass(){}
}

Much easier then this will be difficult to do!

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