I will explain my question by way of example, but I'd love a general solution.

I am writing a JavaScript application that needs to function differently depending on its run-time context. To handle this, I have have done the following. (1) At the beginning of the program, I set two context variables—let's say is_foo and is_bar, which can't both be true. Then (2) throughout the code, I check these variables whenever I need to account for the context:

if (is_foo) {
} else if (is_bar) {

Are there any good design patterns or best practices for designing a program that has a "mode" with related configurations?

  • Is it possible for the mode to change while the application is running, or is it set once on startup? Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 22:23
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner, it is set once at startup.
    – jds
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 22:25

2 Answers 2


Generally, instead of setting a flag, you want to use polymorphism to choose between different implementations. In other words, instead of checking is_foo all over the place, do it once at the start, like:

if (is_foo) {
  app = new FooApp();
} else {
  app = new BarApp();

Alternately, if only the config is different, do something like this at the start:

if (is_foo) {
  config = is_foo_config;
} else {
  config = is_bar_config;

This lets you later just do:


Basically, by doing the if statement once, you minimize the possibility of accidentally forgetting to do it at some later point, and usually also eliminates a lot of repetition.


Since the mode is selected at startup1 the Strategy pattern would work.

Related is the Replace Conditional with Polymorphism (also here) and Replace Type Code with State/Strategy refactoring.

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1 If the mode were changing during the course of execution, then the State pattern would be called for. It's similar to the Strategy pattern and has similar inner workings.

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