Last Modified 2005-08-07 by Jan Schneider

Design Patterns

What are design patterns?

"Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice."

? Christopher Alexander, talking about buildings and towns
  • Many common programming problems
    • They've been solved over and over again
    • Recognize which problems are common
    • Name them to create a common vocabulary
    • Patterns are blueprints
    • They are meant to be modified
    • Not all suspension bridges are the same

What do patterns not do?

  • Patterns are not rules
    • Patterns are not implementations!

When to use them

  • When the Problem they solve is a problem you have ...
    • ... and when the Consequences are acceptable
    • Solve problems you have, not problems you think you might have

Common Patterns

  • Abstract Factory
    • Singleton
    • Observer
    • Model/View/Controller

Abstract Factory

  • Provides an interface for creating one of a family of objects without specifying that object's concrete class name.
    • Example: DB::connect()

require_once 'DB.php';

$type = 'mysql';

$options = array(...);

$dbh = &DB::connect($type, $options);

Implementing Abstract Factory

    function &factory($type)



        $classname = "DB_${type}";

        if (!class_exists($classname)) {

            return PEAR::raiseError(null, DB_ERROR_NOT_FOUND,

                                    null, null, null, 'DB_Error', true);


        return $obj =& new $classname;



  • Ensures that there is only ever one instance of a class.
    • Can only be implemented as a suggestion in PHP4

Implementing Singleton

    function &singleton()


        static $registry;

        if (!isset($registry)) {

            $registry = new Registry();


        return $registry;


Implementing Singleton in PHP5

PHP5's improved object model allows a better singleton implementation:


     * The one instance.


    static private $instance = false;


     * Make the constructor private.


    private function __construct() {}


     * Use this static method to get at the one instance.


    static public function singleton()


        if (!self::$instance) {

            self::$instance = new Singleton();


        return self::$instance;



  • Also called Subject-Observer, Listener, or Publish-Subscribe
    • Let an arbitrary number of objects react to state changes

Implementing Observer: Subject

    function attach(&$observer)


        $this->_observers[$observer->getId()] =& $observer;


    function detach(&$observer)




    function notify()


        foreach ($this->_observers as &$observer) {




Implementing Observer: Observer

    function update(&$subject)


        // Do what needs to be done.



  • MVC is a specialized Observer pattern, with Composite and Strategy completing the picture
    • Observer describes how Views and Models interact
    • Composite lets Views be made up of other Views
    • Strategy lets Views use different Controllers

MVC: Model/View

  • Think of structured HTML as a Model, and CSS as a View
    • Goal is to completely seperate data and logic from presentation
    • Allows redesigns or new views (different stylesheet) without changing the Model

MVC: View Compositing

  • When Smalltalk-80 introduced MVC it had a CompositeView
    • The Composite pattern solves the problem of wanting to treat groups of objects like individual objects

MVC: View/Controller

  • The Controller decides how a View handles user input
    • Think of a command line interface, web interface, and web services as potential Controllers
    • Controllers take user input and give them to both Views and Models as appropriate

PHP Implementations

Some Resources