David Gray

About David Gray

David is a software engineer with a passion for everything Java and the web. He is a server side java developer based in Derby, England by day and a Android, jQuery, jack of all trades by night.

Strategy Pattern ain’t meant for Spring!

Right, so lets say you’re writing a Spring MVC app and you decide, “I want to do seperate encapsulated algorithms that can be swapped to carry out a specific behaviour”.

The classic response to this would be “you need the Strategy Pattern ma’ boy!”.  So, that’s what I did, consider the code below…



public interface MealStrategy {
    cook(Meat meat);

First strategy

public class BurgerStrategy  implements
MealStrategy {
  @Autowired CookerDao cookeryDao;

  public void cook(Meat meat) {

Next strategy…

public class SausageStrategy  implements
MealStrategy {
  @Autowired CookerDao cookeryDao;

  public cook(Meat meat) {
      return cookeryDao.getSausage(meat);


public class MealContext {
    private MealStrategy mealStrategy;

    public void setMealStrategy(MealStrategy strategy) {
        this.strategy = strategy;

    public void cookMeal(Meat meat) {

Now say this context was being accessed through an mvc controller, like…

private MealContext mealContext;

@RequestMapping(method = RequestMethod.POST)
public @ResponseBody Something makeMeal(Meat meat) {
    mealContext.setMealStrategy(new BurgerStrategy());

Normally, this would make perfect sense for use with the strategy pattern.  However, the one line that makes it all come crashing down is the line in the controller…

mealContext.setMealStrategy(new BurgerStrategy())

This will cause the new instance of the bean to be created outside Spring’s application context.  This is curious, so how should you go about implementing a pattern within Spring if you can’t use new to create a new instance?  After asking this question on StackOverflow, the conclusion I came to was to use the Dependency Injection pattern (as per the standard autowiring in Spring) and make individual injections of strategies.  Firstly, I’d need to amend the strategies so they have named components.

public class BurgerStrategy implements MealStrategy { ... }

public class SausageStrategy implements SausageStrategy { ... }

Now in the controller, I have individual strategies to use, so rather than setting a strategy, I just pick the appropriate one that’s injected.

@Resource(name = "burger")
MealStrategy burger;

@Resource(name = "sausage")
MealStrategy sausage;

@RequestMapping(method = RequestMethod.POST)
public @ResponseBody Something makeMeal(Meat meat) {


Reference: Strategy Pattern ain’t meant for Spring! from our JCG partner David Gray at the Code Mumble blog.

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5 Responses to "Strategy Pattern ain’t meant for Spring!"

  1. Taylor Mathewson says:

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but this is one part where Tapestry does well. Their Strategy Builder is very nice, though it’s assumes your Strategy Selector is based on the class of the argument. It requires a minimal amount of code. http://tapestry.apache.org/strategybuilder-service.html I’d love to see that get ported to Spring.

  2. George Andrianakis says:

    A way to dynamically retrieve Spring beans (in your case the burger and sauce strategies) without injecting all the dependencies is to use the ServiceLocatorFactoryBean from Spring along with a custom interface that returns whose return type is your Strategy interface

  3. Randy says:

    What’s Meat in your example? An interface or concrete class? Can you make burgers out of sausage meat? Bit of a lame example.

  4. ZakyAlvan says:

    Why not using spring’s @Configurable on every strategy class and register each of them in on xml context-config with prototype scope? So you can use ‘new’ to create strategy object but still managed in spring container (autowired property injected behind the screen etc).

  5. Jason Gretz says:

    The Strategy pattern works fine with Spring (as does any other pattern). But there is a time when to use it and when not to use it. With Springs very lenient use of the IoC principle, and that spring managed beans default to singletons, generally we get around the use of a strategy, but if prototypes are necessary for your design (this is often the case when converting from an older framework to spring) then the strategy pattern has its intended use.
    Simple declare your beans with a scope = “prototype”.

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