One of the most used patterns is also a pattern that hears by the name Observer. What does it do? Well, imagine you have a stock portfolio and you need to notify your investors every time the value of their stock changes. First, your investors need to subscribe to the stock they would like to be notified about. Next, whenever new stock value is published, subscribers are notified. Much like RSS subscription. But what about definition:

The Observer pattern defines a one-to-many dependency between objects so that when one object changes state, all of its dependants are notified and updated automatically.


Fine, but what can I do with that?

We will build an above mentioned example of a stock and it’s investors. First, you will need to create an observer abstract class:

As you can see, it contains a name, which will be used as unique id, a constructor, where the name is set and subroutine called Update that will be called when new value of our stock will be set.

Now, that we have an observer, we can create a subject class that will be an abstract class used by our stock.

The class contains list of all investors (observers) and operations to add (Attach ()) or remove (Detach ()) them. There is also routine Notify, that will update each and every investor.

Framework is now set. Moving on to concrete classes. First, we will create a concrete subject class called ObserverStock.

The class inherits from ObserverSubject class. Also, it has a property for obtaining stock name and properties for obtaining and setting stock value. However, when setting stock value, not only value is set, but there is also a call to Notify method, specified in ObserverSubject class. This will notify all subscribers of new value.

The only thing missing now is observer concrete class called ObserverInvestors.

And it is simple enough. It needs a constructor with name as parameter (due to his parent class), a property that ties stock to the class and Update () function that will ideally send an e-mail to investors, but in this case just pops up a message with investor and stock info.

Usage of previous classes

To use previously stated classes, I wrote an agent that will create a stock, add three investors to it, and change value. Then, last observer will be removed from notification list and value will be updated again. When running this agent, you should first get three pop up messages and then only two.