The essence of the Abstract Factory method Pattern is to "Provide an interface for creating families of related or dependent objects without specifying their concrete classes".
Here is some sample code:
I am in two minds about this pattern. On the one hand, we have pretty damning evidence that this has been really bad for the industry at large. For details, you can see Why I Hate Frameworks post. When I first saw that, just shortly after reading the Go4 for the first time, I was in tears from laughing. But the situation he describe is true, accurate and still painful today.
Case in point, WCF suffers from a serious overuse of abstract factories. For example, IInstanceProvider (and I just love that in order to wire that in you usually have to implement IServiceBehavior).
As the I Hate Frameworks post mentioned:
Each hammer factory factory is built for you by the top experts in the hammer factory factory business, so you don't need to worry about all the details that go into building a factory.
Awesome, or not, as the case may be.
Then again, it is a useful pattern. The problem is that in the general case, creating objects that create objects (that create even more objects) is a pretty good indication that your architecture is already pretty hosed. You should strive to an architecture that has minimal amount of levels, and an abstract factory is a whole new level even on its own.
Recommendation: Avoid if you can. If you run into a place where you think that needs this, consider if you can simplify your architecture to the point where this is not required.
More posts in "Design patterns in the test of time" series:
- (21 Jan 2013) Mediator
- (18 Jan 2013) Iterator
- (17 Jan 2013) Interpreter
- (21 Nov 2012) Command, Redux
- (19 Nov 2012) Command
- (16 Nov 2012) Chain of responsibility
- (15 Nov 2012) Proxy
- (14 Nov 2012) Flyweight
- (09 Nov 2012) Façade
- (07 Nov 2012) Decorator
- (05 Nov 2012) Composite
- (02 Nov 2012) Bridge
- (01 Nov 2012) Adapter
- (31 Oct 2012) Singleton
- (29 Oct 2012) Prototype
- (26 Oct 2012) Factory Method
- (25 Oct 2012) Builder
- (24 Oct 2012) A modern alternative to Abstract Factory–filtered dependencies
- (23 Oct 2012) Abstract Factory