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Lesson 7Singleton: consequences
ObjectiveConsider the Effects of using a Singleton.

Consequences of the Singleton Pattern

The Singleton Design Pattern, while a useful and commonly used tool in software development, has several impacts that should be considered during the design and implementation phase of any project. Its effect can be analyzed from different aspects:
  1. Resource Sharing: A key characteristic of the Singleton pattern is the control of access to a shared resource. When various components of a system need to coordinate or share a resource, such as a logging mechanism, configuration settings, or a print spooler, the Singleton pattern can be an effective way to ensure that all parts of the system have consistent access to that shared resource.
  2. Global Access Point: A Singleton provides a global, accessible point of access to the Singleton instance. This can make your code easier to understand and use, because there is a known global access point rather than multiple points where new instances might be created. This also simplifies the process of controlling and coordinating access to a particular resource.
  3. Lazy Initialization and Instance Control: Singletons are typically initialized only when they are needed (a concept known as lazy initialization), which can be more efficient for resources that are heavy to create or that might not be used at all during some runs of the program. Furthermore, by controlling the instantiation process, a Singleton can ensure conditions such as limiting the number of instances or reusing an object to save memory.

However, while the Singleton Design Pattern does have these advantages, there are some potential negative impacts:
  1. Global Variables and State Management: Singleton often is criticized for being a glorified global variable. While they provide a straightforward way to share and manage global state, they can also make state management harder to control, especially in large systems.
  2. Testability: Singleton pattern can make unit testing quite challenging, as they introduce global state into an application. It's difficult to isolate classes for unit tests when those classes have dependencies on Singletons. Therefore, Singletons can lead to code that is tightly coupled and difficult to test.
  3. Concurrency Issues: Singletons need to be carefully implemented in a multi-threaded environment to avoid concurrent thread access issues. Without proper synchronization, you might end up creating more than one instance in a multithreaded situation. This synchronization requirement can lead to increased complexity and potential performance issues.
  4. Hidden Dependencies: Singleton classes have the potential to hide their dependencies. Since they're usually accessed directly by the classes that need them, it can be unclear which classes are dependent on the Singleton, which can lead to difficulty when refactoring or changing the code.

In summary, while the Singleton Design Pattern can provide useful ways to manage and coordinate access to shared resources, it's not without its drawbacks. Like any design pattern, its use should be carefully considered in the context of your specific project needs. You should understand both its advantages and potential pitfalls before deciding to implement it.

Some consequences of the Singleton pattern include controlling access, permitting subclassing, and enhancing flexibility.

Controls Access

The Singleton class can easily control who accesses its single instance and how. The getInstance() method can keep track of how many classes have "checked out" the instance and can queue requests. It can verify the state of the system before returning. Primarily, this is a consequence of making the instance field non-public and passing all access through the getInstance() method. This consequence is far from unique to the Singleton pattern. Almost all well-designed classes have this characteristic.
Consequences of the Singleton Pattern
Consequences of the Singleton Pattern

Implementing Singleton Design Pattern with Subclassing in Java

The Singleton Design Pattern ensures that a class has only one instance and provides a global point of access to that instance. While the Singleton pattern is straightforward to implement in its basic form, incorporating subclassing adds a layer of complexity. The challenge lies in ensuring that the Singleton contract is not violated by the subclass. Below is a Java example that demonstrates how to implement a Singleton class that supports subclassing.
The Singleton Base Class
public class Singleton {
    private static Singleton instance;

    protected Singleton() {
        // Protected constructor to prevent instantiation.

    public static synchronized Singleton getInstance() {
        if (instance == null) {
            instance = new Singleton();
        return instance;
The Singleton Subclass
public class SingletonSubclass extends Singleton {
    protected SingletonSubclass() {

    public void displayMessage() {
        System.out.println("Singleton subclass method invoked.");
Usage Example
public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Singleton instance1 = Singleton.getInstance();
        Singleton instance2 = Singleton.getInstance();

        // Confirming that both instances are the same
        System.out.println("Instance 1 hash:" + instance1.hashCode());
        System.out.println("Instance 2 hash:" + instance2.hashCode());

        // Attempting to use the subclass
        SingletonSubclass subclassInstance = (SingletonSubclass) Singleton.getInstance();

  1. Protected Constructor: The constructor in the `Singleton` class is marked as `protected`. This allows subclasses to call `super()` but prevents direct instantiation from external classes.
  2. Synchronized `getInstance` Method: The `getInstance()` method is synchronized to ensure thread safety. This guarantees that only one instance of the Singleton class is created even in a multi-threaded environment.
  3. Subclassing: The `SingletonSubclass` extends `Singleton`. It inherits the `getInstance()` method, ensuring that it also adheres to the Singleton contract.
  4. Type Casting: In the usage example, we cast the Singleton instance to `SingletonSubclass`. This is a demonstration and should be approached with caution. In a real-world scenario, this could lead to `ClassCastException` if the instance is not of the type `SingletonSubclass`.
  5. Method Overriding: Subclasses can introduce new methods or override existing ones. However, they cannot override the `getInstance()` method to change its Singleton behavior, as doing so would violate the Singleton contract.

By adhering to these principles, you can implement a Singleton class in Java that supports subclassing without violating the Singleton contract.
The Singleton class can be subclassed. Subclasses can return an object that behaves differently than originally intended. This allows client applications to be configured at runtime by selecting a different subclass.

Enhances flexibility

An alternative to the Singleton class would be to create a class with only static members . Since static members have only one value per class, the immediate effect would be similar. However, pure static members do not lend themselves to subclassing. Furthermore, it is often easier to work with instance methods and fields when the same object must be used in different objects at the same time.

Singleton Consequences - Quiz

Here is a short quiz with respect to the Singleton Design Pattern.
Singleton Consequences - Quiz

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