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Mastering the Template Method Design Pattern: A Developer's Guide to Streamlined Code Design



The Template Method Design Pattern stands as a cornerstone in the realm of software engineering, offering a structured approach to algorithm design. At its core, this pattern defines the skeleton of an algorithm, allowing subclasses to redefine certain steps without changing the algorithm’s structure. This approach not only promotes code reuse but also enforces a consistent implementation framework across various parts of an application.

Understanding the Template Method pattern is crucial for developers looking to refine their design strategy. It represents a fine blend of flexibility and rigidity, providing a standardized method where the core algorithm remains fixed while specific steps can be adapted. This article aims to demystify the Template Method Design Pattern, comparing it with other patterns like the builder and strategy patterns, to highlight its unique advantages and appropriate use cases in software development.

Understanding the Template Method Design Pattern

The Template Method Design Pattern is a behavioral design pattern that defines the program skeleton of an algorithm in a method, deferring some steps to subclasses. It lets one redefine certain steps of an algorithm without changing the algorithm’s structure. This pattern is part of the larger family of design patterns because it addresses issues of code reuse and large-scale architecture, providing a blueprint for solving common design problems.

Why It Qualifies as a Design Pattern

The Template Method qualifies as a design pattern due to its ability to encapsulate varying aspects of an algorithm while maintaining a consistent execution sequence. It promotes code reuse, emphasizes the inversion of control, and adheres to the principle of open/closed, which makes it a standard design solution for common programming problems.

Key Components and Structure

The key components of this pattern include:

Consider the following PlantUML diagram representing the Template Method Design Pattern in the figure below.

Figure 1. Template Method Design Pattern Class Diagram

Also available in: SVG | PlantText

In this diagram, AbstractClass contains the templateMethod(), which outlines the algorithm’s structure. It also declares abstract methods like primitiveOperation1() and primitiveOperation2(), which subclasses are expected to implement. ConcreteClass, on the other hand, provides specific implementations for these operations. This structure ensures that the overarching algorithm’s sequence remains unchanged, while the details are flexible and can be customized by various subclasses.

The Role of Templates in Pattern Making

In software design, a “template” refers to a pre-defined structure or blueprint that guides the development process. It is not a physical template but a conceptual one, used to provide a consistent and standard way of solving a particular problem.

Explaining Templates in Software Design

In the context of software design, particularly with the Template Method Design Pattern, a template refers to a method that establishes the framework of an algorithm. Defined within a superclass, this method sets out the overall structure, permitting subclasses to adapt certain components without altering the fundamental sequence. This concept mirrors a recipe providing essential steps, yet allowing for variation in ingredients or procedures to cater to specific preferences or requirements.

An illustrative example of this in practice is found in earlier versions of Spring controllers. In these frameworks, the Template Method Pattern was employed to define a generic flow for handling requests. The controllers provided a predefined sequence of operations, such as initializing data, handling requests, and returning responses. Subclasses could then override specific methods to tailor the request handling process, ensuring consistency in the overarching workflow while allowing for flexibility in handling individual requests. This approach demonstrates the practical application of the Template Method in a real-world software design scenario, highlighting its utility in achieving a balance between standardization and customization.

Function and Importance in Pattern Creation

The primary function of templates in pattern creation is to enforce a consistent method of problem-solving across different parts of an application. It promotes code reuse and ensures that certain standards are maintained. The importance of templates lies in their ability to allow flexibility in some parts of an algorithm, while keeping the overarching structure intact. This leads to more robust and maintainable code.

Real-World Example of Template Usage

Let’s consider a simple Java example to illustrate the Template Method Design Pattern:

abstract class Game {
    // Template method
    final void playGame() {

    abstract void initializeGame();
    abstract void playTurn();
    abstract void endGame();

class Chess extends Game {
    void initializeGame() {
        System.out.println("Chess game initialized!");

    void playTurn() {
        System.out.println("Playing a turn of Chess.");

    void endGame() {
        System.out.println("Game over. Chess finished!");

class Monopoly extends Game {
    void initializeGame() {
        System.out.println("Monopoly game initialized!");

    void playTurn() {
        System.out.println("Playing a turn of Monopoly.");

    void endGame() {
        System.out.println("Game over. Monopoly finished!");

public class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Game chess = new Chess();

        Game monopoly = new Monopoly();

In this example, Game is an abstract class that defines the template method playGame(). This method outlines the structure of playing a game but leaves the specifics of each stage (initializeGame, playTurn, endGame) to be defined by subclasses. Chess and Monopoly are concrete classes that provide specific implementations for these stages. This demonstrates how the Template Method Design Pattern allows for variations in the implementation of an algorithm’s steps while maintaining a fixed sequence defined by the template method.

The Old Spring Framework Architecture

In earlier versions of the Spring Framework, the Template Method Design Pattern was often used in controllers, particularly in the form of abstract base classes. These base classes defined a generic workflow for handling requests, and subclasses could override specific methods to provide custom behavior. Here’s a simplified example to illustrate this approach:

public abstract class AbstractSpringController extends HttpServlet {
    // Template method defining the workflow
    protected final void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response) 
        throws ServletException, IOException {
        Object model = handleRequest(request);
        render(model, response);

    // Method to be implemented by subclasses for specific request handling
    protected abstract Object handleRequest(HttpServletRequest request) throws ServletException, IOException;

    // Common method for response preparation, used by all subclasses
    protected void prepareResponse(HttpServletResponse response) {
        // Common response preparation code

    // Common method for rendering the response, used by all subclasses
    protected void render(Object model, HttpServletResponse response) throws IOException {
        // Rendering logic using the model

public class MyCustomController extends AbstractSpringController {
    protected Object handleRequest(HttpServletRequest request) throws ServletException, IOException {
        // Custom request handling logic specific to this controller
        return someModel;

In this example, AbstractSpringController is an abstract class that extends HttpServlet. It defines the doGet() method (the template method) that outlines the general workflow for handling GET requests. This method calls prepareResponse(), handleRequest(), and render() in sequence. The key part here is the handleRequest() method, which is abstract and must be overridden by subclasses to provide custom request handling logic. The other methods, prepareResponse() and render(), provide common functionality shared across all controllers extending this abstract class.

This pattern allowed Spring developers to define a consistent workflow for request processing while offering the flexibility to customize how individual requests were handled in different controllers.

Comparing Template Method and Builder Pattern

The Template Method and Builder patterns are distinct yet crucial methodologies. The Template Method, a behavioral design pattern, focuses on defining the skeleton of an algorithm in a superclass, allowing subclasses to modify certain steps. In contrast, the Builder pattern, a creational design pattern, separates the construction of a complex object from its representation, facilitating the creation of different representations from the same construction process.

Key Differences:

When to Use:

Selecting between these patterns hinges on the specific requirements of your project – whether you need to maintain a consistent algorithm structure or require flexible object creation.

Differentiating Template Method from Strategy Pattern

Distinguishing between the Template Method and Strategy patterns is vital in software design, as they serve different purposes in algorithm and behavior management.

Template Method is a behavioral pattern focusing on defining an algorithm’s structure in a superclass, with some steps deferred to subclasses. It’s ideal for scenarios where the algorithm’s overarching sequence is consistent but certain operations within it vary.

Strategy Pattern, also a behavioral design, involves defining a family of algorithms, encapsulating each one, and making them interchangeable. This pattern is apt for cases where you need to dynamically switch between different algorithms at runtime.

Key Differences:

Choosing the Right Pattern:

Understanding these patterns’ core principles aids in making informed decisions, ensuring the right design approach for effective and efficient software solutions.


The exploration of the Template Method Design Pattern provides valuable insights into its role in software development. As a behavioral pattern, it emphasizes a structured approach to algorithm design, where the overall process is defined while allowing specific steps to be customized by subclasses. This pattern not only fosters code reusability and maintainability but also ensures that a consistent method is followed across different implementations.

The Template Method Design Pattern is pivotal for scenarios where the structure of an algorithm is consistent, but certain steps within it are subject to variation. By defining these steps as abstract in a base class, subclasses can implement them differently, thus providing flexibility within a rigid framework. This approach is particularly beneficial in maintaining the integrity of the algorithm’s structure while accommodating different behaviors.

For final thoughts, choosing the right design pattern is a critical decision in software development, impacting both the project’s structure and its future scalability. The key is to understand the specific requirements and challenges of your project. Patterns like the Template Method are ideal for scenarios with a fixed algorithm structure but variable steps, while others, like the Builder or Strategy patterns, cater to different needs such as object creation flexibility or runtime behavior interchangeability.

In conclusion, the Template Method Design Pattern offers a robust solution for certain types of problems in software engineering. Its effectiveness, however, is contingent on its applicability to the task at hand. As a software developer or architect, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of different design patterns, understanding their nuances and best use cases, to architect software that is not only functional but also scalable and maintainable.

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