oop - injection - simone busoli inversion of control

What is Inversion of Control? (20)

  1. Inversion of control is a pattern used for decoupling components and layers in the system. The pattern is implemented through injecting dependencies into a component when it is constructed. These dependences are usually provided as interfaces for further decoupling and to support testability. IoC / DI containers such as Castle Windsor, Unity are tools (libraries) which can be used for providing IoC. These tools provide extended features above and beyond simple dependency management, including lifetime, AOP / Interception, policy, etc.

  2. a. Alleviates a component from being responsible for managing it's dependencies.
    b. Provides the ability to swap dependency implementations in different environments.
    c. Allows a component be tested through mocking of dependencies.
    d. Provides a mechanism for sharing resources throughout an application.

  3. a. Critical when doing test-driven development. Without IoC it can be difficult to test, because the components under test are highly coupled to the rest of the system.
    b. Critical when developing modular systems. A modular system is a system whose components can be replaced without requiring recompilation.
    c. Critical if there are many cross-cutting concerns which need to addressed, partilarly in an enterprise application.

Inversion of Control (or IoC) can be quite confusing when it is first encountered.

  1. What is it?
  2. Which problem does it solve?
  3. When is it appropriate to use and when not?

  1. So number 1 above . above

  2. Maintenance is the number one thing it solves for me. It guarantees I am using interfaces so that two classes are not intimate with each other.

In using a container like Castle Windsor, it solves maintenance issues even better. Being able to swap out a component that goes to a database for one that uses file based persistence without changing a line of code is awesome (configuration change, you're done).

And once you get into generics, it gets even better. Imagine having a message publisher that receives records and publishes messages. It doesn't care what it publishes, but it needs a mapper to take something from a record to a message.

public class MessagePublisher<RECORD,MESSAGE>
    public MessagePublisher(IMapper<RECORD,MESSAGE> mapper,IRemoteEndpoint endPointToSendTo)

I wrote it once, but now I can inject many types into this set of code if I publish different types of messages. I can also write mappers that take a record of the same type and map them to different messages. Using DI with Generics has given me the ability to write very little code to accomplish many tasks.

Oh yeah, there are testability concerns, but they are secondary to the benefits of IoC/DI.

I am definitely loving IoC/DI.

3 . It becomes more appropriate the minute you have a medium sized project of somewhat more complexity. I would say it becomes appropriate the minute you start feeling pain.

A very simple written explanation can be found here


It says -

"Any nontrivial application is made up of two or more classes that collaborate with each other to perform some business logic. Traditionally, each object is responsible for obtaining its own references to the objects it collaborates with (its dependencies). When applying DI, the objects are given their dependencies at creation time by some external entity that coordinates each object in the system. In other words, dependencies are injected into objects."

Answering only the first part. What is it?

Inversion of Control (IoC) means to create instances of dependencies first and latter instance of a class (optionally injecting them through constructor), instead of creating an instance of the class first and then the class instance creating instances of dependencies. Thus, inversion of control inverts the flow of control of the program. Instead of the callee controlling the flow of control (while creating dependencies), the caller controls the flow of control of the program .

But I think you have to be very careful with it. If you will overuse this pattern, you will make very complicated design and even more complicated code.

Like in this example with TextEditor: if you have only one SpellChecker maybe it is not really necessary to use IoC ? Unless you need to write unit tests or something ...

Anyway: be reasonable. Design pattern are good practices but not Bible to be preached. Do not stick it everywhere.

Creating an object within class is called tight coupling, Spring removes this dependency by following a design pattern(DI/IOC). In which object of class in passed in constructor rather than creating in class. More over we give super class reference variable in constructor to define more general structure.

I agree with NilObject , but I'd like to add to this:

if you find yourself copying an entire method and only changing a small piece of the code, you can consider tackling it with inversion of control

If you find yourself copying and pasting code around, you're almost always doing something wrong. Codified as the design principle Once and Only Once .

I found a very clear example here which explains how the 'control is inverted'.

Classic code (without Dependency injection)

Here is how a code not using DI will roughly work:

  • Application needs Foo (e.g. a controller), so:
  • Application creates Foo
  • Application calls Foo
    • Foo needs Bar (e.g. a service), so:
    • Foo creates Bar
    • Foo calls Bar
      • Bar needs Bim (a service, a repository, …), so:
      • Bar creates Bim
      • Bar does something

Using dependency injection

Here is how a code using DI will roughly work:

  • Application needs Foo, which needs Bar, which needs Bim, so:
  • Application creates Bim
  • Application creates Bar and gives it Bim
  • Application creates Foo and gives it Bar
  • Application calls Foo
    • Foo calls Bar
      • Bar does something

The control of the dependencies is inverted from one being called to the one calling.

What problems does it solve?

Dependency injection makes it easy to swap with the different implementation of the injected classes. While unit testing you can inject a dummy implementation, which makes the testing a lot easier.

Ex: Suppose your application stores the user uploaded file in the Google Drive, with DI your controller code may look like this:

class SomeController
    private $storage;

    function __construct(StorageServiceInterface $storage)
        $this->storage = $storage;

    public function myFunction () 
        return $this->storage->getFile($fileName);

class GoogleDriveService implements StorageServiceInterface
    public function authenticate($user) {}
    public function putFile($file) {}
    public function getFile($file) {}

When your requirements change say, instead of GoogleDrive you are asked to use the Dropbox. You only need to write a dropbox implementation for the StorageServiceInterface. You don't have make any changes in the controller as long as Dropbox implementation adheres to the StorageServiceInterface.

While testing you can create the mock for the StorageServiceInterface with the dummy implementation where all the methods return null(or any predefined value as per your testing requirement).

Instead if you had the controller class to construct the storage object with the new keyword like this:

class SomeController
    private $storage;

    function __construct()
        $this->storage = new GoogleDriveService();

    public function myFunction () 
        return $this->storage->getFile($fileName);

When you want to change with the Dropbox implementation you have to replace all the lines where new GoogleDriveService object is constructed and use the DropboxService. Besides when testing the SomeController class the constructor always expects the GoogleDriveService class and the actual methods of this class are triggered.

When is it appropriate and when not? In my opinion you use DI when you think there are (or there can be) alternative implementations of a class.

I understand that the answer has already been given here. But I still think, some basics about the inversion of control have to be discussed here in length for future readers.

Inversion of Control (IoC) has been built on a very simple principle called Hollywood Principle . And it says that,

Don't call us, we'll call you

What it means is that don't go to the Hollywood to fulfill your dream rather if you are worthy then Hollywood will find you and make your dream comes true. Pretty much inverted, huh?

Now when we discuss about the principle of IoC, we use to forget about the Hollywood. For IoC, there has to be three element, a Hollywood, you and a task like to fulfill your dream.

In our programming world, Hollywood represent a generic framework (may be written by you or someone else), you represent the user code you wrote and the task represent the thing you want to accomplish with your code. Now you don't ever go to trigger your task by yourself, not in IoC! Rather you have designed everything in such that your framework will trigger your task for you. Thus you have built a reusable framework which can make someone a hero or another one a villain. But that framework is always in charge, it knows when to pick someone and that someone only knows what it wants to be.

A real life example would be given here. Suppose, you want to develop a web application. So, you create a framework which will handle all the common things a web application should handle like handling http request, creating application menu, serving pages, managing cookies, triggering events etc.

And then you leave some hooks in your framework where you can put further codes to generate custom menu, pages, cookies or logging some user events etc. On every browser request, your framework will run and executes your custom codes if hooked then serve it back to the browser.

So, the idea is pretty much simple. Rather than creating a user application which will control everything, first you create a reusable framework which will control everything then write your custom codes and hook it to the framework to execute those in time.

Laravel and EJB are examples of such a frameworks.




Inversion of Control is a generic principle, while Dependency Injection realises this principle as a design pattern for object graph construction (i.e. configuration controls how the objects are referencing each other, rather than the object itself controlling how to get the reference to another object).

Looking at Inversion of Control as a design pattern, we need to look at what we are inverting. Dependency Injection inverts control of constructing a graph of objects. If told in layman's term, inversion of control implies change in flow of control in the program. Eg. In traditional standalone app, we have main method, from where the control gets passed to other third party libraries(in case, we have used third party library's function), but through inversion of control control gets transferred from third party library code to our code, as we are taking the service of third party library. But there are other aspects that need to be inverted within a program - e.g. invocation of methods and threads to execute the code.

For those interested in more depth on Inversion of Control a paper has been published outlining a more complete picture of Inversion of Control as a design pattern (OfficeFloor: using office patterns to improve software design http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2739011.2739013 with a free copy available to download from http://www.officefloor.net/about.html ).

What is identified is the following relationship:

Inversion of Control (for methods) = Dependency (state) Injection + Continuation Injection + Thread Injection

Summary of above relationship for Inversion of Control available - http://dzone.com/articles/inversion-of-coupling-control

Inversion of Control, (or IoC), is about getting freedom (You get married, you lost freedom and you are being controlled. You divorced, you have just implemented Inversion of Control. That's what we called, "decoupled". Good computer system discourages some very close relationship.) more flexibility (The kitchen in your office only serves clean tap water, that is your only choice when you want to drink. Your boss implemented Inversion of Control by setting up a new coffee machine. Now you get the flexibility of choosing either tap water or coffee.) and less dependency (Your partner has a job, you don't have a job, you financially depend on your partner, so you are controlled. You find a job, you have implemented Inversion of Control. Good computer system encourages in-dependency.)

When you use a desktop computer, you have slaved (or say, controlled). You have to sit before a screen and look at it. Using the keyboard to type and using the mouse to navigate. And a badly written software can slave you even more. If you replace your desktop with a laptop, then you somewhat inverted control. You can easily take it and move around. So now you can control where you are with your computer, instead of your computer controlling it.

By implementing Inversion of Control, a software/object consumer get more controls/options over the software/objects, instead of being controlled or having fewer options.

With the above ideas in mind. We still miss a key part of IoC. In the scenario of IoC, the software/object consumer is a sophisticated framework. That means the code you created is not called by yourself. Now let's explain why this way works better for a web application.

Suppose your code is a group of workers. They need to build a car. These workers need a place and tools (a software framework) to build the car. A traditional software framework will be like a garage with many tools. So the workers need to make a plan themselves and use the tools to build the car. Building a car is not an easy business, it will be really hard for the workers to plan and cooperate properly. A modern software framework will be like a modern car factory with all the facilities and managers in place. The workers do not have to make any plan, the managers (part of the framework, they are the smartest people and made the most sophisticated plan) will help coordinate so that the workers know when to do their job (framework calls your code). The workers just need to be flexible enough to use any tools the managers give to them (by using Dependency Injection).

Although the workers give the control of managing the project on the top level to the managers (the framework). But it is good to have some professionals help out. This is the concept of IoC truly come from.

Modern Web applications with an MVC architecture depends on the framework to do URL Routing and put Controllers in place for the framework to call.

Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control are related. Dependency Injection is at the micro level and Inversion of Control is at the macro level. You have to eat every bite (implement DI) in order to finish a meal (implement IoC).

Inversion of Controls is about separating concerns.

Without IoC : You have a laptop computer and you accidentally break the screen. And darn, you find the same model laptop screen is nowhere in the market. So you're stuck.

With IoC : You have a desktop computer and you accidentally break the screen. You find you can just grab almost any desktop monitor from the market, and it works well with your desktop.

Your desktop successfully implements IoC in this case. It accepts a variety type of monitors, while the laptop does not, it needs a specific screen to get fixed.

IoC / DI to me is pushing out dependencies to the calling objects. Super simple.

The non-techy answer is being able to swap out an engine in a car right before you turn it on. If everything hooks up right (the interface), you are good.

IoC is about inverting the relationship between your code and third-party code (library/framework):

  • In normal s/w development, you write the main() method and call "library" methods. You are in control :)
  • In IoC the "framework" controls main() and calls your methods. The Framework is in control :(

DI (Dependency Injection) is about how the control flows in the application. Traditional desktop application had control flow from your application(main() method) to other library method calls, but with DI control flow is inverted that's framework takes care of starting your app, initializing it and invoking your methods whenever required.

In the end you always win :)

Let to say that we make some meeting in some hotel.

Many people, many carafes of water, many plastic cups.

When somebody want to drink, she fill cup, drink and throw cup on the floor.

After hour or something we have a floor covered of plastic cups and water.

Let invert control.

The same meeting in the same place, but instead of plastic cups we have a waiter with one glass cup (Singleton)

and she all of time offers to guests drinking.

When somebody want to drink, she get from waiter glass, drink and return it back to waiter.

Leaving aside the question of the hygienic, last form of drinking process control is much more effective and economic.

And this is exactly what the Spring (another IoC container, for example: Guice) does. Instead of let to application create what it need using new keyword (taking plastic cup), Spring IoC container all of time offer to application the same instance (singleton) of needed object(glass of water).

Think about yourself as organizer of such meeting. You need the way to message to hotel administration that

meeting members will need glass of water but not piece of cake.


public class MeetingMember {

    private GlassOfWater glassOfWater;


    public void setGlassOfWater(GlassOfWater glassOfWater){
        this.glassOfWater = glassOfWater;
    //your glassOfWater object initialized and ready to use...
    //spring IoC  called setGlassOfWater method itself in order to
    //offer to meetingMember glassOfWater instance


Useful links:-

Programming speaking

IoC in easy terms: It's the use of Interface as a way of specific something (such a field or a parameter) as a wildcard that can be used by some classes. It allows the re-usability of the code.

For example, let's say that we have two classes : Dog and Cat . Both shares the same qualities/states: age, size, weight. So instead of creating a class of service called DogService and CatService , I can create a single one called AnimalService that allows to use Dog and Cat only if they use the interface IAnimal .

However, pragmatically speaking, it has some backwards.

a) Most of the developers don't know how to use it . For example, I can create a class called Customer and I can create automatically (using the tools of the IDE) an interface called ICustomer . So, it's not rare to find a folder filled with classes and interfaces, no matter if the interfaces will be reused or not. It's called BLOATED. Some people could argue that "may be in the future we could use it". :-|

b) It has some limitings. For example, let's talk about the case of Dog and Cat and I want to add a new service (functionality) only for dogs. Let's say that I want to calculate the number of days that I need to train a dog ( trainDays() ), for cat it's useless, cats can't be trained (I'm joking).

b.1) If I add trainDays() to the Service AnimalService then it also works with cats and it's not valid at all.

b.2) I can add a condition in trainDays() where it evaluates which class is used. But it will break completely the IoC.

b.3) I can create a new class of service called DogService just for the new functionality. But, it will increase the maintainability of the code because we will have two classes of service (with similar functionality) for Dog and it's bad.

The Inversion of Control (IoC) and Dependency Injection (DI) patterns are all about removing dependencies from your code.

For example, say your application has a text editor component and you want to provide spell checking. Your standard code would look something like this:

public class TextEditor {

    private SpellChecker checker;

    public TextEditor() {
        this.checker = new SpellChecker();

What we've done here creates a dependency between the TextEditor and the SpellChecker . In an IoC scenario we would instead do something like this:

public class TextEditor {

    private IocSpellChecker checker;

    public TextEditor(IocSpellChecker checker) {
        this.checker = checker;

In the first code example we are instantiating SpellChecker ( this.checker = new SpellChecker(); ), which means the TextEditor class directly depends on the SpellChecker class.

In the second code example we are creating an abstraction by having the SpellChecker dependency class in TextEditor constructor signature (not initializing dependency in class). This allows us to call the dependency then pass it to the TextEditor class like so:

SpellChecker sc = new SpellChecker; // dependency
TextEditor textEditor = new TextEditor(sc);

Now the client creating the TextEditor class has the control over which SpellChecker implementation to use because we're injecting the dependency to the TextEditor signature.

This is just a simple example, there's a good series of articles by Simone Busoli that explains it in greater detail.

Using IoC you are not new'ing up your objects. Your IoC container will do that and manage the lifetime of them.

It solves the problem of having to manually change every instantiation of one type of object to another.

It is appropriate when you have functionality that may change in the future or that may be different depending on the environment or configuration used in.

I shall write down my simple understanding of this two terms:

For quick understanding just read examples*

Dependency Injection(DI):
Dependency injection generally means passing an object on which method depends, as a parameter to a method, rather than having the method create the dependent object .
What it means in practice is that the method does not depends directly on a particular implementation; any implementation that meets the requirements can be passed as a parameter.

With this objects tell thier dependencies. And spring makes it available.
This leads to loosely coupled application development.

   (if address is defines as dependency by Employee object)

Inversion of Control(IoC) Container:
This is common characteristic of frameworks, IOC manages java objects
– from instantiation to destruction through its BeanFactory.
-Java components that are instantiated by the IoC container are called beans, and the IoC container manages a bean's scope, lifecycle events, and any AOP features for which it has been configured and coded.

QUICK EXAMPLE:Inversion of Control is about getting freedom, more flexibility, and less dependency. When you are using a desktop computer, you are slaved (or say, controlled). You have to sit before a screen and look at it. Using keyboard to type and using mouse to navigate. And a bad written software can slave you even more. If you replaced your desktop with a laptop, then you somewhat inverted control. You can easily take it and move around. So now you can control where you are with your computer, instead of computer controlling it .

By implementing Inversion of Control, a software/object consumer get more controls/options over the software/objects, instead of being controlled or having less options.

Inversion of control as a design guideline serves the following purposes:

There is a decoupling of the execution of a certain task from implementation.
Every module can focus on what it is designed for.
Modules make no assumptions about what other systems do but rely on their contracts.
Replacing modules has no side effect on other modules
I will keep things abstract here, You can visit following links for detail understanding of the topic.
A good read with example

Detailed explanation

I've read a lot of answers for this but if someone is still confused and needs a plus ultra "laymans term" to explain IoC here is my take:

Imagine a parent and child talking to each other.

Without IoC:

*Parent : You can only speak when I ask you questions and you can only act when I give you permission.

Parent : This means, you can't ask me if you can eat, play, go to the bathroom or even sleep if I don't ask you.

Parent : Do you want to eat?

Child : No.

Parent : Okay, I'll be back. Wait for me.

Child : (Wants to play but since there's no question from the parent, the child can't do anything).

After 1 hour...

Parent : I'm back. Do you want to play?

Child : Yes.

Parent : Permission granted.

Child : (finally is able to play).

This simple scenario explains the control is centered to the parent. The child's freedom is restricted and highly depends on the parent's question. The child can ONLY speak when asked to speak, and can ONLY act when granted permission.

With IoC:

The child has now the ability to ask questions and the parent can respond with answers and permissions. Simply means the control is inverted! The child is now free to ask questions anytime and though there is still dependency with the parent regarding permissions, he is not dependent in the means of speaking/asking questions.

In a technological way of explaining, this is very similar to console/shell/cmd vs GUI interaction. (Which is answer of Mark Harrison above no.2 top answer). In console, you are dependent on the what is being asked/displayed to you and you can't jump to other menus and features without answering it's question first; following a strict sequential flow. (programmatically this is like a method/function loop). However with GUI, the menus and features are laid out and the user can select whatever it needs thus having more control and being less restricted. (programmatically, menus have callback when selected and an action takes place).