I'm developing desktop application in java/swing.

I have a component that is registered as a subscriber to many panels and gets messages (my custom event) from them. That component is something like message tray. When there is a validation error or some kind of info message it's delivered from panel to that tray by my "publish" method.

But now I'm facing a problem. I have window that consist my message tray and internal panel. in this internal panel there are some components and other Panel. And in this Panel there are panels that implements Publisher interface but they are being created on the fly from metadata and I don't have access to them to register subscriber.

So I cannot directly register my message tray as subscriber to panels because:

  1. I don't have access to them
  2. they are created dynamically from metadata and can change.

Is it ok to set my subscriber object reference in the middle (between) panels, and when creating dynamically my publisher panels register that reference to them?

Is it ok with the observer pattern because now other classes have reference to the object that they don't strictly need.

Maybe this object should be injected in other way? or maybe it is all OK and I just messed my mind today ;)

Picture to make it clearer

2 Answers 2


There are two possibilities:

  1. Pass the "message tray" to whatever component needs it
  2. Make each component that can have controls implement the "tray" interface. That way, the holder of the internal panels is also a tray and it can dispatch the messages to it's parent tray (if any).

I like more #2 because it allows you to be more flexible in how the controls hierarchy looks like (aka, a control that is tray might decide that only some messages are passed to parents). Also, in this design, each child has only a reference to the parent and the parent decides what to do with the incoming messages.


Your design doesn't really violate the Observer pattern, because the pattern does not specify how subscribers get registered with the publisher. But you are violating the Single Responsibility Principle for those middle panels, because they are given the added responsibility of helping in getting the message tray subscribed.

A better design would be to use a second incarnation of the Observer pattern between the message tray and the component that dynamically creates those Panels. Through this subscription, the message tray can be informed that a new Panel has been created (along with a handle/reference/pointer to that Panel), so it can subscribe with that Panel for messages.

  • i get your point, but what do you think about #2 option from Victor (programmers.stackexchange.com/a/207685/99090) ?
    – coolig
    Aug 9, 2013 at 7:44
  • 2
    @user99090: As described, it presumes a parent-child hierarchy with the message tray as ultimate parent. It is a possibility, but I don't know how it fits with the rest of your design. It can also be interpreted as a re-distributing Observer, which I also considered, but didn't write down, as I found it less appealing (but it does have its merits and can work). Aug 9, 2013 at 8:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.