Constructor Does The Work

In this idiom, the constructor does all the work - there is no separate method that you call. This idiom usually occurs when you have a MethodObject:

	new Method_Object (args...);

Disadvantages

Advantage

See Also: ThrowawayObject Opposite of: InitializationSeparateFromConstruction?
True Stories
An example of why this is can be a bad idea...

I have used a user-space thread library for C++ in which threads were created by deriving from a thread base-class. The base class constructor did some magic to create a new processor context in which continue constructing the object, so one implemented the body of the thread in the derived class constructor.

The drawback was that one could not have inheritance hierarchies that were more than one level deep and you could not invoke other initialization methods on a thread object after construction but before it was spawned.

-- NatPryce
If you use inheritance hierarchies with constructors that connect objects to other parts of framework, you often need "before" and "after" hooks. These hooks should be called from leaf classes. If a class is a base for another class, but not abstract, it may need two constructors: one intended for derived classes, and another when used as a concrete class.

All this complexity hurts, so its best to apply the DontDoThat principle, and use factories, builders, etc. I have a couple of nascent patterns on top of the GOF ones about how to organize these, especially for component-based systems, but they have not gelled yet.

Incidentally, such hierarchies are often a good indication that the implementors have used inheritance where composition would work better.

-- AamodSane
Borland's DelphiLanguage provides after-construction and before-destruction virtual methods for all classes. I thought it was rather neat, but I couldn't see much use for it until now. (The reason given in the manual is to allow constructors to call the proper virtual methods after the object is *fully* constructed.) With DelphiLanguage's implementation, one can override the after-construction method without changing the base class constructor. -- CliffordAdams
One of the worst C++ systems I ever had to work on used this idiom, and it made it (literally) twenty times bigger than it needed to be. Each side effect (like sending a few bytes to a remote system) was implemented as at least six layers of nested constructors. It was awful to debug or understand as nothing could return a reasonable return value. It was also especially dangerous as many of the constructors took place at initialization of static data time (before 'main'), which is before some debuggers and profilers etc. get properly started.

Since then I've steered very clear of this idiom, in C, C++ and Java. -- FrankCarver
Constructors doing the work are hard to unit test. So other things equal, you'll get lower code quality. - DaveVanBuren
CategoryCpp CategoryJava

EditText of this page (last edited June 11, 2003) or FindPage with title or text search