I need to add a new payment type to an existing code base. That means that I'm going to have a few methods looking like this:

if (old payment type)
    process old type of payment
    process new type of payment

Now, if this could have been determined beforehand, I would have this method point to an interface implementing a common Pay method and then that interface would be implemented by one of two classes. Unfortunately, I only know which method the customer chooses at runtime, which means I need a way to determine which branch to use. Is there another way except for just having ifs spread through the code?

  • 6
    Can't you introduce the Interface right now?
    – Marcel
    Jul 29, 2013 at 9:09
  • I can, but it wouldn't help. The implementation cannot be determined at compile-time so I would still need an if to determine which one to use... wouldn't I? Jul 29, 2013 at 9:12
  • 1
    You'd instantiate an object of the required type and there are various ways to do that, some require IF, some are just an array lookup. Jul 29, 2013 at 9:17
  • Hmm... now that I think about it, something like this might work void DoStuff(IPayment payment) and call it with DoStuff(ChoosePayment(...)) where the if is only in one place (the ChoosePayment method). Would that work? Is there anything I missed? Jul 29, 2013 at 9:19
  • 3
    @MarcelPopescu You will need to have at least one if, however if done right, you will require exactly one if which determines which implementation of IPayment to use. If you find yourself with many implementations, consider using a Factory pattern.
    – Neil
    Jul 29, 2013 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


This is textbook example of Strategy pattern.

...a software design pattern, whereby an algorithm's behaviour can be selected at runtime. Formally speaking, the strategy pattern defines a family of algorithms, encapsulates each one, and makes them interchangeable. Strategy lets the algorithm vary independently from clients that use it...

This will allow you to have different implementations of how you pay and you can create the concrete one at runtime based on data saved together with payment.

  • Sorry, that won't work (I considered it). The problem with the Strategy pattern is that the behaviour is selected on object creation (ie, context = new Context(new Add());); I don't know which payment method I am going to use when the object is created, I only know that when payment is actually invoked. Jul 29, 2013 at 10:42
  • @MarcelPopescu Strategy is normal property. You can change it just like you would normal variable. It is not needed for it to be fixed during it's creation.
    – Euphoric
    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:44
  • Ah... I missed that part; I was stuck on "it must be set at object creation". Got it. Jul 29, 2013 at 11:03

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