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Flyweight in Ruby

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

The 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.



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.rb: Conceptual example

require 'json'

# 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.
class Flyweight
  # @param [String] shared_state
  def initialize(shared_state)
    @shared_state = shared_state

  # @param [String] unique_state
  def operation(unique_state)
    s = @shared_state.to_json
    u = unique_state.to_json
    print "Flyweight: Displaying shared (#{s}) and unique (#{u}) state."

# 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.
class FlyweightFactory
  # @param [Hash] initial_flyweights
  def initialize(initial_flyweights)
    @flyweights = {}
    initial_flyweights.each do |state|
      @flyweights[get_key(state)] = Flyweight.new(state)

  # Returns a Flyweight's string hash for a given state.
  def get_key(state)

  # Returns an existing Flyweight with a given state or creates a new one.
  def get_flyweight(shared_state)
    key = get_key(shared_state)

    if !@flyweights.key?(key)
      puts "FlyweightFactory: Can't find a flyweight, creating new one."
      @flyweights[key] = Flyweight.new(shared_state)
      puts 'FlyweightFactory: Reusing existing flyweight.'


  def list_flyweights
    puts "FlyweightFactory: I have #{@flyweights.size} flyweights:"
    print @flyweights.keys.join("\n")

# @param [FlyweightFactory] factory
# @param [String] plates
# @param [String] owner
# @param [String] brand
# @param [String] model
# @param [String] color
def add_car_to_police_database(factory, plates, owner, brand, model, color)
  puts "\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])

# The client code usually creates a bunch of pre-populated flyweights in the
# initialization stage of the application.

factory = FlyweightFactory.new([
                                 %w[Chevrolet Camaro2018 pink],
                                 ['Mercedes Benz', 'C300', 'black'],
                                 ['Mercedes Benz', 'C500', 'red'],
                                 %w[BMW M5 red],
                                 %w[BMW X6 white]


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

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

puts "\n\n"


output.txt: Execution result

FlyweightFactory: I have 5 flyweights:
C300_Mercedes Benz_black
C500_Mercedes Benz_red

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:
C300_Mercedes Benz_black
C500_Mercedes Benz_red

Flyweight in Other Languages

Flyweight in C# Flyweight in C++ Flyweight in Go Flyweight in Java Flyweight in PHP Flyweight in Python Flyweight in Rust Flyweight in Swift Flyweight in TypeScript