Introduction to the Flyweight Design Pattern


3 min read

The Flyweight Design Pattern is a structural design pattern that focuses on reducing the memory usage of applications, particularly when dealing with a large number of objects with similar state. This pattern achieves efficiency by sharing as much data as possible with similar objects; it is particularly effective in contexts where the object instantiation costs are high due to the sheer volume of objects needed.

Core Concept

The Flyweight pattern is all about using less memory by sharing parts of an object between multiple objects. It divides an object's state into two types:

  1. Intrinsic (shared and the same for many objects) and extrinsic (unique to each object). The intrinsic state is kept inside shared "flyweight" objects.

  2. Factory class manages these shared objects to ensure they're used efficiently. The extrinsic state is kept by the client who uses the flyweight and provides it whenever they need the flyweight to do something.

Components of the Flyweight Pattern

  • Flyweight: Interface through which flyweights can receive and act on extrinsic states.

  • Concrete Flyweight: Implements the Flyweight interface and stores intrinsic state. Concrete Flyweight objects are shared and can perform operations independently of the extrinsic state.

  • Flyweight Factory: Manages and creates flyweight objects. It ensures that flyweights are shared properly: when requested, the factory either creates a new flyweight or returns an existing one if it matches the requested criteria.

  • Client: Uses the Flyweight factory to obtain flyweight objects. The client must maintain the extrinsic state and pass it to the flyweight objects for processing.

Benefits of the Flyweight Pattern

  1. Memory Efficiency: Reduces the memory cost of large numbers of similar objects, which is vital in resource-constrained applications or high-performance environments.

  2. Improved Data Sharing: Flyweights can be used to share common data across multiple objects, further decreasing memory usage.

When to Use the Flyweight Pattern

  • When a program requires a large number of objects that have similar state or configuration data.

  • When memory savings from reduced object instantiation are critical.

  • When it's acceptable to externalize object state, if the reduced memory use outweighs potential increases in computational overhead.

Example: Text Formatting Application

Imagine a text editor that needs to handle the formatting of thousands of characters where many characters have similar formatting styles. Here's how the Flyweight pattern could be implemented in JavaScript to efficiently handle character formatting:

// Flyweight object
class Character {
    constructor(char) {
        this.char = char;  // Intrinsic state

    setFont(fontFamily, fontSize) {
        // Font properties are extrinsic states
        console.log(`Character: ${this.char} set with font family:
 ${fontFamily} and size: ${fontSize}`);

// Flyweight Factory
class CharacterFactory {
    constructor() {
        this.characters = {};

    getCharacter(char) {
        if (!this.characters[char]) {
            this.characters[char] = new Character(char);
        return this.characters[char];

// Client code
const factory = new CharacterFactory();
const characterA = factory.getCharacter('A');
const characterB = factory.getCharacter('A');  // Same instance as characterA

characterA.setFont('Arial', 12);
characterB.setFont('Times New Roman', 14);  // Same operation can be applied 


The Flyweight Design Pattern is a powerful tool for optimizing memory usage in applications that handle a large number of objects with similar properties. By separating intrinsic and extrinsic states and facilitating the sharing of intrinsic state across objects, the Flyweight pattern can significantly reduce the memory footprint of an application. This pattern is especially useful in graphics-heavy applications, games, and document editors where performance and memory efficiency are paramount.