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Spring Boot: Strategy Design Pattern - Convenience and Limitation

khmarbaise profile image Karl Heinz Marbaise ・3 min read

You might have already used the strategy pattern in relationship with Spring Boot where it is very convenient to use.

You simply define an interface for example (I use the prefixing I only in these examples for clarity):

public interface IOneStrategy {
  void executeTheThing();
}

Define some implementations like this:

@Service("FIRST")
public class OneStrategyFirst implements IOneStrategy {

  @Override
  public void executeTheThing() {
    System.out.println("OneStrategyFirst.executeTheThing");
  }
}

Now you can simply implement a service which will execute the appropriate strategy based on the given name which looks similar like this:

@Service
public class ExecuteStrategyOne {
  private Map<String, IOneStrategy> strategies;

  public ExecuteStrategyOne(Map<String, IOneStrategy> strategies) {
    this.strategies = strategies;
  }

  public void executeStrategyOne(String name) {
    if (!strategies.containsKey(name)) {
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("The strategy " + name + " does not exist.");
    }
    strategies.get(name).executeTheThing();
  }

}

In real world you make several implementations of the strategy interface like OneStrategyFirst, OneStrategySecond and OneStrategyThird. Sometimes the usage is to use the parameter of executeStrategyOne which is provided by a REST API or some other domain specific code which needs different implementations.

The convenience here is that Spring Boot (Spring Framework to be more accurate) handles the injection of the different implementation into the strategies Map within ExecuteStrategyOne via the constructor. This results in a Map where the key is the value which is given by @Service("FIRST") and the value of the map contains an instantiates class of every implementation of the interface IOneStrategy which can be found.

Really convenient.

In real life it happens that you need to have a different strategy which use the same keys as FIRST, SECOND and THIRD in the examples? Let us define the following:

@Service("FIRST")
public class TwoStrategyFirst implements ITwoStrategy {

  @Override
  public void executeTheThing() {
    System.out.println("TwoStrategyFirst.executeTheThing");
  }
}

If you try to start that Spring Boot application you will see an exception like this:

Caused by: org.springframework.context.annotation.ConflictingBeanDefinitionException: 
Annotation-specified bean name 'FIRST' for bean class [com.soebes.examples.strategies.functions.two.TwoStrategyFirst] 
conflicts with existing, non-compatible bean definition of same name and class 
[com.soebes.examples.strategies.functions.one.OneStrategyFirst]
    at org.springframework.context.annotation.ClassPathBeanDefinitionScanner.checkCandidate(ClassPathBeanDefinitionScanner.java:349) ~[spring-context-5.2.9.RELEASE.jar:5.2.9.RELEASE]
    at org.springframework.context.annotation.ClassPathBeanDefinitionScanner.doScan(ClassPathBeanDefinitionScanner.java:287) ~[spring-context-5.2.9.RELEASE.jar:5.2.9.RELEASE]

So what can we do to solve the problem without losing much of the convenience which Spring Boot provides us here?

First we have to define in each of the strategy implementation class the annotations like this:

@Service
@Qualifier("FIRST")
public class TwoStrategyFirst implements ITwoStrategy {

  @Override
  public void executeTheThing() {
    System.out.println("TwoStrategyFirst.executeTheThing");
  }
}

By using the key in a different annotation we prevent the duplication of the bean names in contradiction to use @Service("FIRST") instead. The usage of @Qualifier("FIRST") gives us a criteria to handle that different.

Now we have to change the ExecuteStrategyOne class like the following:

@Service
public class ExecuteStrategyOne {

  private Map<String, IOneStrategy> strategies;

  public ExecuteStrategyOne(List<IOneStrategy> strategies) {
    this.strategies = strategies.stream()
        .collect(
            toMap(k -> k.getClass().getDeclaredAnnotation(Qualifier.class).value(), 
                  Function.identity()));
  }
  ...
}

I would like to emphasis the usage of the constructor parameter List<IOneStrategy> strategies instead of the previously used Map<String, IOneStrategy> strategies which is a convenience to get a list of all implementations off the given interface into that list by Spring Boot. Now we need to translate that into a map with the key we have defined by using @Qualifier annotation. The whole thing can be solved by a stream like this:

this.strategies = strategies
  .stream()
  .collect(
    Collectors.toMap(k -> k.getClass().getDeclaredAnnotation(Qualifier.class).value(), 
                     Function.identity()));

We go through the implementations and extract the annotation @Qualifier and read out the value() which is the key we want to have. We collect the result by using the Collectors.toMap into a Map and assign the result to the instance variable private Map<String, IOneStrategy> strategies;.
Depending on your need it is of course possible to define the instance variable as final and you can create an unmodifiable map by using the appropriate Collectors.toUnmodifiableMap instead of the toMap(..) if needed.

So with a few changes in the code we can easily solve the problem of having different strategies which using the same keys in our code.

The given code is available as a full working example on GitHub.

Posted on by:

khmarbaise profile

Karl Heinz Marbaise

@khmarbaise

On job as freelancer working with Java, Jenkins (pipelines, Job DSL), Maven, Docker, Mesos, Git, In my spare time I'm trying to blog about something useful(?) or try to hack on things I like.

Discussion

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Thanks for sharing, Karl!

I have a question if you don't mind, is the Strategy pattern an implementation of the Dependency Inversion principle?

 

Not that I know. Just a design pattern mentioned in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_Patterns ... maybe a little bit based on the part where an interface is used en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dependency_i...