🎉 Hooray! After 3 years of work, I've finally released the ebook on design patterns! Check it out »
Flyweight

Flyweight in Python

Flyweight is a structural design pattern that allows programs to support vast quantities of objects by keeping their memory consumption low.

Pattern achieves it by sharing parts of object state between multiple objects. In other words, the Flyweight saves RAM by caching the same data used by different objects.

Learn more about Flyweight

Usage of the pattern in Python

Complexity:

Popularity:

Usage examples: The Flyweight pattern has a single purpose: minimizing memory intake. If your program doesn’t struggle with a shortage of RAM, then you might just ignore this pattern for a while.

Identification: Flyweight can be recognized by a creation method that returns cached objects instead of creating new.

Conceptual Example

This example illustrates the structure of the Flyweight design pattern. It focuses on answering these questions:

  • What classes does it consist of?
  • What roles do these classes play?
  • In what way the elements of the pattern are related?

main.py: Conceptual Example

import json
from typing import Dict


class Flyweight():
    """
    The Flyweight stores a common portion of the state (also called intrinsic
    state) that belongs to multiple real business entities. The Flyweight
    accepts the rest of the state (extrinsic state, unique for each entity) via
    its method parameters.
    """

    def __init__(self, shared_state: str) -> None:
        self._shared_state = shared_state

    def operation(self, unique_state: str) -> None:
        s = json.dumps(self._shared_state)
        u = json.dumps(unique_state)
        print(f"Flyweight: Displaying shared ({s}) and unique ({u}) state.", end="")


class FlyweightFactory():
    """
    The Flyweight Factory creates and manages the Flyweight objects. It ensures
    that flyweights are shared correctly. When the client requests a flyweight,
    the factory either returns an existing instance or creates a new one, if it
    doesn't exist yet.
    """

    _flyweights: Dict[str, Flyweight] = {}

    def __init__(self, initial_flyweights: Dict) -> None:
        for state in initial_flyweights:
            self._flyweights[self.get_key(state)] = Flyweight(state)

    def get_key(self, state: Dict) -> str:
        """
        Returns a Flyweight's string hash for a given state.
        """

        return "_".join(sorted(state))

    def get_flyweight(self, shared_state: Dict) -> Flyweight:
        """
        Returns an existing Flyweight with a given state or creates a new one.
        """

        key = self.get_key(shared_state)

        if not self._flyweights.get(key):
            print("FlyweightFactory: Can't find a flyweight, creating new one.")
            self._flyweights[key] = Flyweight(shared_state)
        else:
            print("FlyweightFactory: Reusing existing flyweight.")

        return self._flyweights[key]

    def list_flyweights(self) -> None:
        count = len(self._flyweights)
        print(f"FlyweightFactory: I have {count} flyweights:")
        print("\n".join(map(str, self._flyweights.keys())), end="")


def add_car_to_police_database(
    factory: FlyweightFactory, plates: str, owner: str,
    brand: str, model: str, color: str
) -> None:
    print("\n\nClient: Adding a car to database.")
    flyweight = factory.get_flyweight([brand, model, color])
    # The client code either stores or calculates extrinsic state and passes it
    # to the flyweight's methods.
    flyweight.operation([plates, owner])


if __name__ == "__main__":
    """
    The client code usually creates a bunch of pre-populated flyweights in the
    initialization stage of the application.
    """

    factory = FlyweightFactory([
        ["Chevrolet", "Camaro2018", "pink"],
        ["Mercedes Benz", "C300", "black"],
        ["Mercedes Benz", "C500", "red"],
        ["BMW", "M5", "red"],
        ["BMW", "X6", "white"],
    ])

    factory.list_flyweights()

    add_car_to_police_database(
        factory, "CL234IR", "James Doe", "BMW", "M5", "red")

    add_car_to_police_database(
        factory, "CL234IR", "James Doe", "BMW", "X1", "red")

    print("\n")

    factory.list_flyweights()

Output.txt: Execution result

FlyweightFactory: I have 5 flyweights:
Camaro2018_Chevrolet_pink
C300_Mercedes Benz_black
C500_Mercedes Benz_red
BMW_M5_red
BMW_X6_white

Client: Adding a car to database.
FlyweightFactory: Reusing existing flyweight.
Flyweight: Displaying shared (["BMW", "M5", "red"]) and unique (["CL234IR", "James Doe"]) state.

Client: Adding a car to database.
FlyweightFactory: Can't find a flyweight, creating new one.
Flyweight: Displaying shared (["BMW", "X1", "red"]) and unique (["CL234IR", "James Doe"]) state.

FlyweightFactory: I have 6 flyweights:
Camaro2018_Chevrolet_pink
C300_Mercedes Benz_black
C500_Mercedes Benz_red
BMW_M5_red
BMW_X6_white
BMW_X1_red

Flyweight in Other Languages

Design Patterns: Flyweight in Java Design Patterns: Flyweight in C# Design Patterns: Flyweight in PHP Design Patterns: Flyweight in Ruby Design Patterns: Flyweight in Swift Design Patterns: Flyweight in TypeScript