Lazy loading

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Lazy loading is a design pattern commonly used in computer programming to defer initialization of an object until the point at which it is needed. It can contribute to efficiency in the program's operation if properly and appropriately used. The opposite of lazy loading is eager loading.

Implementations[edit]

There are four common ways of implementing the lazy load design pattern: lazy initialization; a virtual proxy; a ghost, and a value holder.[1] Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Lazy initialization[edit]

Main article: Lazy initialization

With lazy initialization, the object to be lazily loaded is originally set to null, and every request for the object checks for null and creates it "on the fly" before returning it first, as in this C# example:

private int myWidgetID;
private Widget myWidget = null;
 
public Widget MyWidget 
{
    get 
    {
        if (myWidget == null) 
        {
            myWidget = Widget.Load(myWidgetID);
        }
 
        return myWidget;
    }
}

Or with the null-coalescing operator ??

private int myWidgetID;
private Widget myWidget = null; 
 
public Widget MyWidget 
{
   get { return myWidget = myWidget ?? Widget.Load(myWidgetID);  }
}

This method is the simplest to implement, although if null is a legitimate return value, it may be necessary to use a placeholder object to signal that it has not been initialized.

Virtual proxy[edit]

Virtual Proxy is an object with the same interface as the real object. The first time one of its methods is called it loads the real object and then delegates.

Ghost[edit]

A "ghost" is the object that is to be loaded in a partial state. It may only contain the object's identifier, but it loads its own data the first time one of its properties is accessed.

Value holder[edit]

A value holder is a generic object that handles the lazy loading behavior, and appears in place of the object's data fields:

private ValueHolder<Widget> valueHolder;
 
public Widget MyWidget 
{
    get
    {
        return valueHolder.GetValue();
    }
}

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Fowler, Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, Addison-Wesley, 2003, pp.200-214. ISBN 0-321-12742-0.