What are drawbacks or disadvantages of singleton pattern?

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Top 5 Answer for What are drawbacks or disadvantages of singleton pattern?

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94

Paraphrased from Brian Button:

  1. They are generally used as a global instance, why is that so bad? Because you hide the dependencies of your application in your code, instead of exposing them through the interfaces. Making something global to avoid passing it around is a code smell.

  2. They violate the single responsibility principle: by virtue of the fact that they control their own creation and lifecycle.

  3. They inherently cause code to be tightly coupled. This makes faking them out under test rather difficult in many cases.

  4. They carry state around for the lifetime of the application. Another hit to testing since you can end up with a situation where tests need to be ordered which is a big no no for unit tests. Why? Because each unit test should be independent from the other.

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87

Singletons solve one (and only one) problem.

Resource Contention.

If you have some resource that

(1) can only have a single instance, and

(2) you need to manage that single instance,

you need a singleton.

There aren't many examples. A log file is the big one. You don't want to just abandon a single log file. You want to flush, sync and close it properly. This is an example of a single shared resource that has to be managed.

It's rare that you need a singleton. The reason they're bad is that they feel like a global and they're a fully paid up member of the GoF Design Patterns book.

When you think you need a global, you're probably making a terrible design mistake.

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72

Some coding snobs look down on them as just a glorified global. In the same way that many people hate the goto statement there are others that hate the idea of ever using a global. I have seen several developers go to extraordinary lengths to avoid a global because they considered using one as an admission of failure. Strange but true.

In practice the Singleton pattern is just a programming technique that is a useful part of your toolkit of concepts. From time to time you might find it is the ideal solution and so use it. But using it just so you can boast about using a design pattern is just as stupid as refusing to ever use it because it is just a global.

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66

Misko Hevery, from Google, has some interesting articles on exactly this topic...

Singletons are Pathological Liars has a unit testing example that illustrates how singletons can make it difficult to figure out dependency chains and start or test an application. It is a fairly extreme example of abuse, but the point that he makes is still valid:

Singletons are nothing more than global state. Global state makes it so your objects can secretly get hold of things which are not declared in their APIs, and, as a result, Singletons make your APIs into pathological liars.

Where have all the Singletons Gone makes the point that dependency injection has made it easy to get instances to constructors that require them, which alleviates the underlying need behind the bad, global Singletons decried in the first article.

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57

I think the confusion is caused by the fact that people don't know the real application of the Singleton pattern. I can't stress this enough. Singleton is not a pattern to wrap globals. Singleton pattern should only be used to guarantee that one and only one instance of a given class exists during run time.

People think Singleton is evil because they are using it for globals. It is because of this confusion that Singleton is looked down upon. Please, don't confuse Singletons and globals. If used for the purpose it was intended for, you will gain extreme benefits from the Singleton pattern.

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