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Composite Method – Python Design Patterns

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Composite Method is a Structural Design Pattern which describes a group of objects that is treated the same way as a single instance of the same type of the objects. The purpose of the Composite Method is to Compose objects into Tree type structures to represent the whole-partial hierarchies.

One of the main advantages of using the Composite Method is that first, it allows you to compose the objects into the Tree Structure and then work with these structures as an individual object or an entity.



The operations you can perform on all the composite objects often have the least common denominator relationship.

The Composite Pattern has four participants :



  • Component: Component helps in implementing the default behavior for the interface common to all classes as appropriate. It declares the interface of the objects in the composition and for accessing and managing its child components.
  • Leaf: It defines the behavior for primitive objects in the composition. It represents the leaf object in the composition.
  • Composite: It stores the child component and implements child related operations in the component interface.
  • Client: It is used to manipulate the objects in the composition through the component interface.

Problem without using Composite Method

Imagine we are studying an organizational structure which consists of General Managers, Managers, and Developers. A General Manager may have many Managers working under him and a Manager may have many developers under him.
Suppose, you have to determine the total salary of all the employees. So, How would you determine that ?

An ordinary developer will definitely try the direct approach, go over each employee and calculate the total salary. Looks easy? not so when it comes to implementation. Because we have to know the classes of all the employees General Manager, Manager, and Developers.
It seems even an impossible task to calculate through a direct approach in Tree-based structure.

Solution using Composite Method

One of the best solutions to the above-described problem is using Composite Method by working with a common interface that declares a method for calculating the total salary.
We will generally use the Composite Method whenever we have “composites that contain components, each of which could be a composite”.

Composite-Running -Example


"""Here we attempt to make an organizational hierarchy with sub-organization,
 which may have subsequent sub-organizations, such as:
GeneralManager                                   [Composite]
      Manager1                                   [Composite]
              Developer11                        [Leaf]
              Developer12                        [Leaf]
      Manager2                                   [Composite]
              Developer21                        [Leaf]
              Developer22                        [Leaf]"""
class LeafElement:
    '''Class representing objects at the bottom or Leaf of the hierarchy tree.'''
    def __init__(self, *args):
        ''''Takes the first positional argument and assigns to member variable "position".'''
        self.position = args[0]
    def showDetails(self):
        '''Prints the position of the child element.'''
        print("\t", end ="")
class CompositeElement:
    '''Class representing objects at any level of the hierarchy
     tree except for the bottom or leaf level. Maintains the child
      objects by adding and removing them from the tree structure.'''
    def __init__(self, *args):
        '''Takes the first positional argument and assigns to member
         variable "position". Initializes a list of children elements.'''
        self.position = args[0]
        self.children = []
    def add(self, child):
        '''Adds the supplied child element to the list of children
         elements "children".'''
    def remove(self, child):
        '''Removes the supplied child element from the list of
        children elements "children".'''
    def showDetails(self):
        '''Prints the details of the component element first. Then,
        iterates over each of its children, prints their details by
        calling their showDetails() method.'''
        for child in self.children:
            print("\t", end ="")
"""main method"""
if __name__ == "__main__":
    topLevelMenu = CompositeElement("GeneralManager")
    subMenuItem1 = CompositeElement("Manager1")
    subMenuItem2 = CompositeElement("Manager2")
    subMenuItem11 = LeafElement("Developer11")
    subMenuItem12 = LeafElement("Developer12")
    subMenuItem21 = LeafElement("Developer21")
    subMenuItem22 = LeafElement("Developer22")



Class Diagram of Composite Method

Following is the general class diagram for the Composite Method:




  • Open/Closed Principle: As the introduction of new elements, classes and interfaces is allowed into the application without breaking the existing code of the client, it definitely follows the Open/Closed Principle
  • Less Memory Consumption: Here we have to create less number of objects as compared to the ordinary method, which surely reduces the memory usage and also manages to keep us away from errors related to memory
  • Improved Execution Time: Creating an object in Python doesn’t take much time but still we can reduce the execution time of our program by sharing objects.
  • Flexibility: It provides flexibility of structure with manageable class or interface as it defines class hierarchies that contains primitive and complex objects.


  • Restriction on the Components: Composite Method makes it harder to restrict the type of components of a composite. It is not preferred to use when you don’t want to represent a full or partial hierarchy of the objects.
  • General Tree Structure: The Composite Method will produce the overall general tree, once the structure of the tree is defined.
  • Type-System of Language: As it is not allowed to use the type-system of the programming language, our program must depend on the run-time checks to apply the constraints.


  • Requirement of Nested Tree Structure: It is highly preferred to use Composite Method when you are need of producing the nested structure of tree which again include the leaves objects and other object containers.
  • Graphics Editor: We can define a shape into types either it is simple for ex – a straight line or complex for ex – a rectangle. Since all the shapes have many common operations, such as rendering the shape to screen so composite pattern can be used to enable the program to deal with all shapes uniformly.

Further read: Composite Method in Java

Last Updated : 10 Feb, 2020
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