What are static factory methods in Java? – 036

What are static factory methods in Java? – 036

In this video we’re looking at static factories
in Java. Coming up next! Imagine you’re creating an class to represent
coordinates. The coordinates could be two numbers representing the x and y axis, or
the two numbers can represent a length and angle. Think about that for a second. This
breaks because your constructor will only have two numbers for parameters, and no way
to guess which one you mean. You could say integers for one, and floats for another but
that’s ugly and puts artificial constraints on your class. A constructor isn’t going to
work. We could use a builder pattern, but it seems overkill for two parameters. Lets
look at a new pattern in Java called the static factory. The static factory is a simple variation of
the factory method pattern. The factory method pattern is a design pattern we’ll cover later.
The static factory method is simply a static method that returns an instance of a class.
It might call a constructor to create an instance, or it might return an instance it already
has created. Our next thought is, how does this help us? So back to our earlier problem, let’s look
at creating our coordinate class. We could use a builder pattern here, but we’ve only
got two parameters. It’s either x/y or length and angle. Internally we’ll store only one. We’ll go
with x, y, for the only reason, we need to pick one. You don’t ever want two representations
of the same thing. You only want one truth in any system, and then convert to any other
values. So how do we create our coordinate instances? Since we can’t have two constructors with
the same parameter lists, we’ll create two methods. One is called fromXY() and the other
fromPolar(). Both take two doubles and return a coordinate instance. We’ll ignore any calculation
errors. The polar method will convert to X/Y and then create the coordinate. Our X/Y method
just creates the coordinate. Here’s the rub. How do we call these methods
if we need an instance to call the method? That’s right. Make the methods static. That’s
why they are called static factories. The other thing you’ll want to do is make these
methods final. We don’t want new behavior for creation here. And finally we want to
make the constructor private. This enforces how instances in our class are created. Ok. Now that we have a static factory, how
did this help us? For starters, we now have more meaningful
names to create our classes. fromXY() and fromPolar() make it clear what values are
going into the creation of our instance. That’s easier to read than a constructor name. We also have two ways to create our instances
with the same parameter types. Both methods take two double values, but the meaning of
those values are different in each case. If we had constructors, these two instantiations
are the same. With static factory methods, it’s clear how we’re creating each instance
and what the parameters mean. Another interesting advantage is conditional
instantiation. That means we don’t have to create a new object if we don’t want to. Constructors
must always return a new instance, even though the people at Java do break their own rules
in a few cases, but that’s another story. We talked about that in the tricky numbers
video. Anyways, if we’re returning immutable objects, we might want to return the same
one. Say for example, we’re using an integer coordinate
system in a game that’s only 10 x 10. Each coordinate represents a single position in
our game board that has only 100 positions. It would be wasteful to keep creating instances
for the same position. We could keep a pool of coordinate instances, and when you call
the static factory, we’ll just return the one already created. Java does this with boolean values. We might
use the Boolean class in hundreds of places in an application, but there’s only two instances.
When you call valueOf(“true”), you get the instance already created. Sounds great! Why not use static factories
everywhere? Well we’ve seen that these classes are final. That means the class cannot be
extended. You could move the factory into another class. This would allow you to create
instances of subclasses, but I think a better plan is to use something called interfaces.
We’ll talk about those later. The other problem is more of a readability
issue. You can’t tell the difference between a method and a factory method. They are syntactically
equivalent. The best practice is to use method names that indicates what you are doing. Examples
are instanceof(), valueof(), and so on. So that’s another way to create instance of
your Java classes. We’ve covered constructors, builder patterns, constructor chaining, and
static factories. Next we’ll look at copy constructors. Thanks for watching! If you have any questions
let me know in the comments. New lessons come out every week, so make sure you subscribe.
You don’t want to miss a video! Liking the video lets me know what I’m doing right, so
if you liked the video… And with that, I’ll see you in the next

17 thoughts on “What are static factory methods in Java? – 036”

  1. Αθανάσιος Κόντης

    Thank you for the tutorials! 🙂
    Your videos feel as if I watch a more colorful and engaging version of Joshua Bloch's "Effective Java"!
    They are well organized, presented and articulated. It's really a pity that most teachers at colleges or universities do not have the charisma (or even put the effort) to actually convey knowledge or the excitement of the software engineering craft, but act as dull robotic speakerphones instead.

  2. I discovered this video while looking for materials to help me make sense of the principles in Joshua Bloch's "Effective Java". This first video seems to be helping so I will make sure to check out your other videos. Also, excellent production value! Thanks for making and posting these.

  3. I saw many videos before this, your didatics it's awesome! really. My suggestion is to slow your explanation a little bit, talk more haltingly. Great video, congrats!

  4. I'm a begginer and I don't get the coordinate example…how does the coordArray know we already created an instance of that object if we do not add the newly instantied coordinate to that array before returning it?

  5. At 3:38 you are returning null object – coordArray[y*10+x]

    this makes more sense to me:

    public static final Coordinate fromXY(int x, int y)
    return coordArray[(y * 10) + x];

    coordArray[(y*10)+x]=new Coordinate(x,y);
    return coordArray[(y*10)+x];

    pls do correct me if I am wrong…

  6. Hi. In the example at 3:38, DJ is talking about how you can prevent redundant instantiation, and highlighted the code to do this. But the if-block in the code checks if the specified index is null, and then returns the value at that index, which it has checked and found to be null. Shouldn't the block be if(coordArray[…] != null){…}? Or am I missing something?

  7. Jan-Philipp Heinrich

    Hi there and thanks for this video. Just a short question to one slide you showed: When you use the if-statement in the factory method for a coordinate you check if this coordinate is already in the array of coordinates by doing ==null. But if this is the case, you return it, which makes no sense to me. Could this be a mistake? To me it would make perfect sense to say if there is none, create a new one, put it to the array and then return it. But as it seems, you return null, isnt it? So the line with the if-statement should say if !=null, return it, otherwise make a new one, save it and return it.

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