Understanding and Implementing Command Pattern in C#

The idea of this article is to understand what is a Command Pattern, when is it useful and how can we get a basic implementation of Command pattern in place.

Background

There are many a times in our application that we want to perform multiple operations on same data. I mean the scenarios when the user has some data and he has an option of doing one out of many operations in that data. Example could be an image processor, I could choose to rotate, flip and/or invert colors of the photo. Also I could find myself not happy with the action and I may want to undo my action. Now this is all business logic that I had to place in my code. Now what I could do is to have my action invoker call the methods of action reciever/taker and achieve this. but then I will have to write a lot of conditional code. I will have to write very similar code for each action. Also, If I have more commands I find myself changing the existing code very often.

Instead of taking the above approach, I could devise a mechanim where all my actions can somehow be handled polymorphically and thus giving me a clean and less error prone code/design. This idea is the basic intent of writting a Command Pattern.

Command Pattern talk about encapsulating all the requests coming from the invoker in Objects, pass then to the reciever and let the reciever take the actions. If I have many actions to perform, I can haVe a hierarchy of commands and handle them polymorphically.

GoF defines Command Pattern as “Encapsulate a request as an object, thereby letting you parameterize clients with different requests, queue or log requests, and support undoable operations.” So let us look at the class diagram for the command pattern and try to understand it.

commandGof

  • Command: This is an interface for executing an action
  • ConcreteCommand: This object specifies the binding between a Receiver/action taker and an action invoker. This object is responsible for executing corresponding operationon Receiver.
  • Client: creates a ConcreteCommand object and sets its receiver
  • Invoker: It will use Command object to carry out the request
  • Receiver: It contains the real operational logic that need to be performed on the data.

Using the code

Let us now see how to have a simple Command pattern implementation by writting a small Calculator sort of application. We will focus on understanding command pattern so we will operate on fix set os data and will try to perform basic oeprations on them. Lets say we will be creating an appliction like this

screenshot

Note: The idea here is to understand the Command Pattern and not writting a calculator. Also, this example is small so Command pattern might seem overkill for this.

So let us start by writting the Command class.

This class is an abstract class and will be used as an interface for execution of commands. Let us now write the ConcreteCommand classes that will inherit this abstract class.

So now we have the command hierarchy for our application ready. Now let is work on writting the real application logic. We will be needing a class that will do the calculations i.e. The Reciever. lets have an interface to represent the major functionalities of the reciever.

and the concrete Implementation of the Reciever i.e. our Calculator class

We will also be needing the class that will set let the user to choose the command to execute i.e. the Client(This will be UI in our case). Finally we will be writting an Invoker, which will again be the user interface in our case.

The event change of radio buttons are simply changing the command object to be used and whe the user chooses to get the result the appropiate command object will be used to fetch the result for him. Befor wrapping up lets try to look at the clas diagram of our code and map it with the Gofs diagram.

mapping

Points of Interest

Command pattern is a very good way of decrease the coupling between sender and receiver. The most important thing to remember while implementing the command pattern is that the Command is just a link between sender and receiver. It should only tell the receiver what the sender is expecting. It should never alter the logic of sender and receiver in any way.

Download sample code for this article: CommandPatternImpl