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In software engineering, the composite pattern is a partitioning design pattern. The composite pattern describes that a group of objects are to be treated in the same way as a single instance of an object. The intent of a composite is to "compose" objects into tree structures to represent part-whole hierarchies. Implementing the composite pattern lets clients treat individual objects and compositions uniformly.


When dealing with tree-structured data, programmers often have to discriminate between a leaf-node and a branch. This makes code more complex, and therefore, error prone. The solution is an interface that allows treating complex and primitive objects uniformly. In object-oriented programming, a composite is an object designed as a composition of one-or-more similar objects, all exhibiting similar functionality. This is known as a "has-a" relationship between objects.[2] The key concept is that you can manipulate a single instance of the object just as you would manipulate a group of them. The operations you can perform on all the composite objects often have a least common denominator relationship. For example, if defining a system to portray grouped shapes on a screen, it would be useful to define resizing a group of shapes to have the same effect (in some sense) as resizing a single shape.

When to use

Composite can be used when clients should ignore the difference between compositions of objects and individual objects.[1] If programmers find that they are using multiple objects in the same way, and often have nearly identical code to handle each of them, then composite is a good choice; it is less complex in this situation to treat primitives and composites as homogeneous.