Prototype Design Pattern in Java

This tutorial explains Gang of Four’s Prototype design pattern in java with UML class diagram. It explains the scenarios in which Prototype design pattern can be applied, and then implements an example use case in Java which shows how the Prototype pattern can be applied to a real world example. It shows the design of the use case using a class diagram, provides the Java code for the use case and lastly explains the working of the code.

Introduction: Prototype Design Pattern is a creational design pattern among the Gang Of Four(GOF) Design PatternsArticle on GOF Patterns & their types. Being a creational design pattern, the Prototype pattern deals with the design of how the object creation is managed.

What is Prototype Design Pattern
In a Prototype Design Pattern implementation the type of object to be created is specified using a prototypical instance. New objects are created by copying(or cloning) this prototype.
In simpler terms, in Prototype Pattern we keep an object of the type we want to create and any new object is created by simply cloning this existing object.

Scenarios in which Prototype Design Pattern can be used

  1. Exact class to be instantiated is specified dynamically: When the class of which instance is to be created is specified at runtime, then Prototype pattern can be used.
  2. Object creation using ‘new’ keyword is costlier: When the inherent cost of object creation using ‘new’ keyword is more than simply cloning an existing standard object.
  3. When Abstract Factory-like class hierarchy is not required: To avoid maintaining an abstract factory like class hierarchy of multiple factories.
  4. Object States can be pre-defined: If the objects to be created can only have one of a finite number of states, then keeping prototypes of these objects and cloning them when needed is more convenient

Class Diagram for Prototype Design Pattern

Prototype Design Pattern Class Diagram

Explanation of Prototype Design Pattern’s Class Diagram

  • Prototype is the base interface with a single method clone().
  • Every concrete class which can be cloned must extend Prototype and override the clone() method.
  • Every child of Prototype implements its own cloning logic in the overriden clone() method.
  • Client invokes the clone method of the concrete child of Prototype and gets a cloned object back.

Prototype Design Pattern – example use case implemented in Java – Class Diagram

Prototype Design Pattern in Java Class Diagram
Code for the classes shown in Java Example's Class Diagram
public interface Prototype extends Cloneable{
 public Prototype clone() throws CloneNotSupportedException;
public class UMLClass implements Prototype{
 private String className="Default Prototype Class Name";
 public void setClassName(String className){
 public String getClassName(){
  return this.className;
  public UMLClass clone() throws CloneNotSupportedException{
  System.out.println("Creating clone of UMLClass");
  return (UMLClass) super.clone();
public class UMLAttribute implements Prototype{
 private String attributeName="Default Prototype Attribute Name";
 public void setAttributeName(String attributeName){
 public String getAttributeName(){
  return this.attributeName;
 public UMLAttribute clone() throws CloneNotSupportedException {
  System.out.println("Creating clone of UMLAttribute");
  return (UMLAttribute) super.clone();
public class UMLAssociation implements Prototype{
 private String associationName="Default Prototype Association Name";
 public void setAssociationName(String associationName){
 public String getAssociationName(){
   return this.associationName;
 public UMLAssociation clone() throws CloneNotSupportedException {
  System.out.println("Creating clone of UMLAssociation");
  return (UMLAssociation) super.clone();
import java.util.HashMap;
public class PrototypeFactory{
 private static HashMap<String,Prototype> cloneMap=new HashMap<String,Prototype>();
  cloneMap.put("Class", new UMLClass());
  cloneMap.put("Attribute", new UMLAttribute());
  cloneMap.put("Association", new UMLAssociation());   
 public Prototype getPrototype(String identifier) throws CloneNotSupportedException{
  case "Class": return cloneMap.get("Class").clone(); 
  case "Attribute": return cloneMap.get("Attribute").clone(); 
  case "Association": return cloneMap.get("Association").clone(); 
  return null;
public class UMLTool{
 public static void main(String args[]){
   //Creating a Prototype of UMLClass
   UMLClass umlClass=(UMLClass)new PrototypeFactory(). getPrototype("Class");
   System.out.println("Name in umlClass instance:"+ umlClass.getClassName());
   //Creating a Prototype of UMLAttribute 
   UMLAttribute umlAttrb=(UMLAttribute)new PrototypeFactory(). getPrototype("Attribute");
   System.out.println("Name in umlAttrb instance:"+ umlAttrb.getAttributeName());
   //Creating a Prototype of UMLAssociation 
   UMLAssociation umlAssoc=(UMLAssociation)new PrototypeFactory(). getPrototype("Association");
   System.out.println("Name in umlAssoc instance:"+ umlAssoc.getAssociationName());
  }catch(CloneNotSupportedException cloningException){
   System.out.println("error in cloning:"); 
 OUTPUT on running
Creating clone of UMLClass
Name in umlClass instance:Default Prototype Class Name
Creating clone of UMLAttribute
Name in umlAttrb instance:Default Prototype Attribute Name
Creating clone of UMLAssociation
Name in umlAssoc instance:Default Prototype Association Name
Explanation of Java Example’s Class Diagram & Code
The Java class diagram above depicts Prototype Design pattern implemented for few elements of Class Diagram of a UMLTool viz. Classes, attributes and association. Lets quickly go through whats there in Java’s example’s class diagram & corresponding code –

  • UMLTool is the client class.
  • Prototype is the base interface which all the three classes we need to clone implement.
  • UMLClass, UMLAttribute and UMLAssociation are three classes we will clone.
  • PrototypeFactory helps in cloning as there are multiple children of Prototype which are to be cloned. It returns an instance of the appropriate cloned object based on the String identifier passed to it.
  • PrototypeFactory stores a static HashMap which contains one already instantiated object of three concrete classes which are cloneable.
  • UMLTool’s main() method clones UMLClass, UMLAttribute & UMLAssociation once each and then prints the value of their name variable. As you can see in the output that first a cloned instance for each of them is created and then the name attribute’s value is correctly printed, as was stored in their instance stored in static map in PrototypeFactory.

In the above tutorial we understood what is Prototype design pattern and the main scenarios in which it is applicable. We then looked at the UML class diagram for Prototype Design Pattern & its explanation, a Java Use Case implementing Prototype pattern with its class diagram and code for the classes shown in the class diagram, followed by explanation of both the class diagram & code. This concludes the tutorial on Prototype design pattern.


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