Behavioral Patterns  «Prev  Next»
Lesson 1

Introduction to Behavioral Design Patterns

How Objects Classes Interact?

This module explores different behavioral design patterns, patterns that describe the way objects and classes interact and divide responsibilities among themselves. A behavioral pattern abstracts an action you want to take from the object or class that takes the action. By changing the object or class, you can change the algorithm used, the objects affected, or the behavior, while still retaining the same basic interface for client classes.
A good toolbox of behavioral patterns allows you to solve many challenging problems you are likely to encounter when designing object-oriented systems. These include enumerating lists, responding to changes of state in an object, serializing and deserializing objects without penetrating data encapsulation.
In this module, you will learn:
  1. How programmers use behavioral design patterns
  2. About the most commonly used design patterns
  3. When to use the Observer and Mediator patterns
  4. How to use the Mediator pattern to manage the different traffic lights

Behavioral object patterns use object composition rather than inheritance. Some of these patterns describe how a group of peer objects cooperate to perform a task that no single object can carry out by itself. An important issue here is how peer objects know about each other. Peers could maintain explicit references to each other, but that would increase their coupling. In the extreme, every object would know about every other. The Mediator pattern avoids this by introducing a mediator object between peers. The mediator provides the indirection needed for loose coupling.
The Chain of Responsibility provides even looser coupling. It lets you send requests to an object implicitly through a chain of candidate objects. Any candidate may fulfill the request depending on run-time conditions. The number of candidates is open-ended, and you can select which candidates participate in the chain at run-time.

Behavioral patterns are concerned with algorithms and communication between them. The operations that make up a single algorithm might be split up between different classes, making a complex arrangement that is difficult to manage and maintain. The behavioral patterns capture ways of expressing the division of operations between classes and optimize how the communication should be handled. In this first chapter on behavioral patterns, we will look at three simple but very useful patterns: the Strategy, State, and Template Methods.

Behavioral design patterns make up the plurality of design patterns offered by the Gang of Four. This section covers one class example (Template Method) and one object example (State). All in all, Gamma, Helm, Johnson, and Vlissides provide eleven behavioral patterns:
  1. Chain of Responsibility
  2. Command
  3. Interpreter (class type)
  4. Iterator
  5. Mediator
  6. Memento
  7. Observer
  8. State
  9. Strategy
  10. Template Method (class type)
  11. Visitor
The key to understanding behavioral design patterns is communication. The focus shifts from the objects and classes that make up a design pattern to the communication between objects and classes. In the truest form of composition, behavioral patterns are best understood in terms of how objects work together to perform tasks.
Figure 6-1: Behavioral patterns focus on communication between pattern participants

The emphasis on interaction between the elements that make up a pattern is so important that some class diagrams look identical, such as the State and Strategy patterns. However, because of the way in which the participants communicate and how they handle responsibilities, they are very different.