Dependency injection

From HandWiki
Short description: Software programming technique
A diagram of an archetypical dependency injection container for the .NET platform.
Dependency injection is often used alongside specialized frameworks, known as 'containers', to facilitate program composition.

In software engineering, dependency injection is a programming technique in which an object or function receives other objects or functions that it depends on. Dependency injection aims to separate the concerns of constructing objects and using them, leading to loosely coupled programs.[1][2][3] The pattern ensures that an object or function which wants to use a given service should not have to know how to construct those services. Instead, the receiving 'client' (object or function) is provided with its dependencies by external code (an 'injector'), which it is not aware of.[4] Dependency injection helps by making implicit dependencies explicit and helps solve the following problems:[5]

  • How can a class be independent from the creation of the objects it depends on?
  • How can an application, and the objects it uses support different configurations?
  • How can the behavior of a piece of code be changed without editing it directly?

Dependency injection is often used to keep code in-line with the dependency inversion principle.[6][7]

In statically-typed languages the client typically declares the interfaces of the services it uses, rather than their concrete implementations, making it easier to change which services are actually used at runtime without recompiling.

Application frameworks often combine dependency injection with Inversion of Control. Under inversion of control, the framework first constructs an application object (such as a controller), then passes control flow to it. With dependency injection, the framework also instantiates the dependencies declared by the application object (often in the constructor method's parameters), and passes the dependencies into the object.[8]

Dependency injection implements the idea of "inverting control over the implementations of dependencies", which is why certain Java frameworks generically name the concept "inversion of control" (not to be confused with inversion of control flow).[9]


Dependency injection for five-year-olds

When you go and get things out of the refrigerator for yourself, you can cause problems. You might leave the door open, you might get something Mommy or Daddy don't want you to have. You might even be looking for something we don't even have or which has expired.

What you should be doing is stating a need, "I need something to drink with lunch," and then we will make sure you have something when you sit down to eat something.

John Munsch, 28 October 2009.[2][10][11]

Dependency injection involves four roles: services, clients, interfaces and injectors.

Services and clients

A service is any class which contains useful functionality. In turn, a client is any class which uses services. The services that a client requires are the client's dependencies.

Any object can be a service or a client; the names relate only to the role the objects play in an injection. The same object may even be both a client (it uses injected services) and a service (it is injected into other objects). Upon injection, the service is made part of the client's state, available for use.[12]


Clients should not know how their dependencies are implemented, only their names and API. A service which retrieves emails, for instance, may use the IMAP or POP3 protocols behind the scenes, but this detail is likely irrelevant to calling code that merely wants an email retrieved. By ignoring implementation details, clients do not need to change when their dependencies do.


The injector, sometimes also called an assembler, container, provider or factory, introduces services to the client.

The role of injectors is to construct and connect complex object graphs, where objects may be both clients and services. The injector itself may be many objects working together, but must not be the client, as this would create a circular dependency.

Because dependency injection separates how objects are constructed from how they are used, it often diminishes the importance of the new keyword found in most object-oriented languages. Because the framework handles creating services, the programmer tends to only directly construct value objects which represents entities in the program's domain (such as an Employee object in a business app or an Order object in a shopping app).[13][14][15][16]


As an analogy, cars can be thought of as services which perform the useful work of transporting people from one place to another. Car engines can require gas, diesel or electricity, but this detail is unimportant to the client—a driver—who only cares if it can get them to their destination.

Cars present a uniform interface through their pedals, steering wheels and other controls. As such, which engine they were 'injected' with on the factory line ceases to matter and drivers can switch between any kind of car as needed.

Advantages and disadvantages


A basic benefit of dependency injection is decreased coupling between classes and their dependencies.[17][18]

By removing a client's knowledge of how its dependencies are implemented, programs become more reusable, testable and maintainable.[19]

This also results in increased flexibility: a client may act on anything that supports the intrinsic interface the client expects.[20]

More generally, dependency injection reduces boilerplate code, since all dependency creation is handled by a singular component.[19]

Finally, dependency injection allows concurrent development. Two developers can independently develop classes that use each other, while only needing to know the interface the classes will communicate through. Plugins are often developed by third-parties that never even talk to developers of the original product.[21]


Many of dependency injection's benefits are particularly relevant to unit-testing.

For example, dependency injection can be used to externalize a system's configuration details into configuration files, allowing the system to be reconfigured without recompilation. Separate configurations can be written for different situations that require different implementations of components.[22]

Similarly, because dependency injection does not require any change in code behavior, it can be applied to legacy code as a refactoring. This makes clients more independent and are easier to unit test in isolation, using stubs or mock objects, that simulate other objects not under test.

This ease of testing is often the first benefit noticed when using dependency injection.[23]


Critics of dependency injection argue that it:

  • Creates clients that demand configuration details, which can be onerous when obvious defaults are available.[21]
  • Makes code difficult to trace because it separates behavior from construction.[21]
  • Is typically implemented with reflection or dynamic programming, hindering IDE automation.[24]
  • Typically requires more upfront development effort.[25]
  • Encourages dependence on a framework.[26][27][28]

Types of dependency injection

There are three main ways in which a client can receive injected services:[29]

  • Constructor injection, where dependencies are provided through a client's class constructor.
  • Setter injection, where the client exposes a setter method which accepts the dependency.
  • Interface injection, where the dependency's interface provides an injector method that will inject the dependency into any client passed to it.

In some frameworks, clients do not need to actively accept dependency injection at all. In Java, for example, reflection can make private attributes public when testing and inject services directly.[30]

Without dependency injection

In the following Java example, the Client class contains a Service member variable initialized in the constructor. The client directly constructs and controls which service it uses, creating a hard-coded dependency.

public class Client {
    private Service service;

    Client() {
        // The dependency is hard-coded.
        this.service = new ExampleService();

Constructor injection

The most common form of dependency injection is for a class to request its dependencies through its constructor. This ensures the client is always in a valid state, since it cannot be instantiated without its necessary dependencies.

public class Client {
    private Service service;

    // The dependency is injected through a constructor.
    Client(Service service) {
        if (service == null) {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("service must not be null");
        this.service = service;

Setter injection

By accepting dependencies through a setter method, rather than a constructor, clients can allow injectors to manipulate their dependencies at any time. This offers flexibility, but makes it difficult to ensure that all dependencies are injected and valid before the client is used.

public class Client {
    private Service service;

    // The dependency is injected through a setter method.
    public void setService(Service service) {
        if (service == null) {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("service must not be null");
        this.service = service;

Interface injection

With interface injection, dependencies are completely ignorant of their clients, yet still send and receive references to new clients.

In this way, the dependencies become injectors. The key is that the injecting method is provided through an interface.

An assembler is still needed to introduce the client and its dependencies. The assembler takes a reference to the client, casts it to the setter interface that sets that dependency, and passes it to that dependency object which in turn passes a reference to itself back to the client.

For interface injection to have value, the dependency must do something in addition to simply passing back a reference to itself. This could be acting as a factory or sub-assembler to resolve other dependencies, thus abstracting some details from the main assembler. It could be reference-counting so that the dependency knows how many clients are using it. If the dependency maintains a collection of clients, it could later inject them all with a different instance of itself.

public interface ServiceSetter {
    public void setService(Service service);

public class Client implements ServiceSetter {
    private Service service;

    public void setService(Service service) {
        if (service == null) {
            throw new IllegalArgumentException("service must not be null");
        this.service = service;

public class ServiceInjector {
	private Set<ServiceSetter> clients;

	public void inject(ServiceSetter client) {
		client.setService(new ExampleService());

	public void switch() {
		for (Client client : this.clients) {
			client.setService(new AnotherExampleService());

public class ExampleService implements Service {}

public class AnotherExampleService implements Service {}


The simplest way of implementing dependency injection is to manually arrange services and clients, typically done at the program's root, where execution begins.

public class Program {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Build the service.
        Service service = new ExampleService();

        // Inject the service into the client.
        Client client = new Client(service);

        // Use the objects.

Manual construction may be more complex and involve builders, factories, or other construction patterns.


A class diagram of dependency injection containers in the .NET Framework.
Containers such as Ninject or StructureMap are commonly used in object-oriented programming languages to achieve Dependency Injection and inversion of control.

Manual dependency injection is often tedious and error-prone for larger projects, promoting the use of frameworks which automate the process. Manual dependency injection becomes a dependency injection framework once the constructing code is no longer custom to the application and is instead universal.[31] While useful, these tools are not required to do dependency injection.[32][33]

Some frameworks, like Spring, can use external configuration files to plan program composition:

import org.springframework.beans.factory.BeanFactory;
import org.springframework.context.ApplicationContext;

public class Injector {

	public static void main(String[] args) {
		// Details about which concrete service to use are stored in configuration separate from the program itself.
		BeanFactory beanfactory = new ClassPathXmlApplicationContext("Beans.xml");
		Client client = (Client) beanfactory.getBean("client");

Even with a potentially long and complex object graph, the only class mentioned in code is the entry point, in this case Client.Client has not undergone any changes to work with Spring and remains a POJO.[34][35][36] By keeping Spring-specific annotations and calls from spreading out among many classes, the system stays only loosely dependent on Spring.[27]



The following example shows an AngularJS component receiving a greeting service through dependency injection.

function SomeClass(greeter) {
  this.greeter = greeter;

SomeClass.prototype.doSomething = function(name) {

Each AngularJS application contains a service locator responsible for the construction and look-up of dependencies.

// Provide the wiring information in a module
var myModule = angular.module('myModule', []);

// Teach the injector how to build a greeter service. 
// greeter is dependent on the $window service.
myModule.factory('greeter', function($window) {
  return {
    greet: function(text) {

We can then create a new injector that provides components defined in the myModule module, including the greeter service.

var injector = angular.injector(['myModule', 'ng']);
var greeter = injector.get('greeter');

To avoid the service locator antipattern, AngularJS allows declarative notation in HTML templates which delegates creating components to the injector.

<div ng-controller="MyController">
  <button ng-click="sayHello()">Hello</button>
function MyController($scope, greeter) {
  $scope.sayHello = function() {
    greeter.greet('Hello World');

The ng-controller directive triggers the injector to create an instance of the controller and its dependencies.


This sample provides an example of constructor injection in C#.

using System;

namespace DependencyInjection;

// Our client will only know about this interface, not which specific gamepad it is using.
interface IGamepadFunctionality {
    string GetGamepadName();
    void SetVibrationPower(float InPower);

// The following services provide concrete implementations of the above interface.

class XBoxGamepad : IGamepadFunctionality {
    float VibrationPower = 1.0f;
    public string GetGamepadName() => "Xbox controller";
    public void SetVibrationPower(float InPower) => VibrationPower = Math.Clamp(InPower, 0.0f, 1.0f);

class PlaystationJoystick : IGamepadFunctionality {
    float VibratingPower = 100.0f;
    public string GetGamepadName() => "PlayStation controller";
    public void SetVibrationPower(float InPower) => VibratingPower = Math.Clamp(InPower * 100.0f, 0.0f, 100.0f);

class SteamController : IGamepadFunctionality {
    double Vibrating = 1.0;
    public string GetGamepadName() => "Steam controller";
    public void SetVibrationPower(float InPower) => Vibrating = Convert.ToDouble(Math.Clamp(InPower, 0.0f, 1.0f));

// This class is the client which receives a service.
class Gamepad {
    IGamepadFunctionality _GamepadFunctionality;

    // The service is injected through the constructor and stored in the above field.
    public Gamepad(IGamepadFunctionality InGamepadFunctionality) => _GamepadFunctionality = InGamepadFunctionality;

    public void Showcase() {
        // The injected service is used.
        var gamepadName = _GamepadFunctionality.GetGamepadName();
        var message = $"We're using the {gamepadName} right now, do you want to change the vibrating power?";

class Program {
    static void Main() {
        var steamController = new SteamController();
        // We could have also passed in an XboxController, PlaystationJoystick, etc.
        // The gamepad doesn't know what it's using and doesn't need to.
        var gamepad = new Gamepad(steamController);

See also


  1. Seemann, Mark. "Dependency Injection is Loose Coupling". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Seeman, Mark (October 2011). Dependency Injection in .NET. Manning Publications. p. 4. ISBN 9781935182504. 
  3. Niko Schwarz, Mircea Lungu, Oscar Nierstrasz, “Seuss: Decoupling responsibilities from static methods for fine-grained configurability”, Journal of Object Technology, Volume 11, no. 1 (April 2012), pp. 3:1-23
  4. "HollywoodPrinciple". 
  5. "The Dependency Injection design pattern - Problem, Solution, and Applicability". 
  6. Erez, Guy (2022-03-09). "Dependency Inversion vs. Dependency Injection" (in en). 
  7. Mathews, Sasha (2021-03-25). "You are Simply Injecting a Dependency, Thinking that You are Following the Dependency Inversion…" (in en). 
  8. "Spring IoC Container" (in en). 
  9. Fowler, Martin. "Inversion of Control Containers and the Dependency Injection pattern". 
  10. "Dependency Injection in NET". p. 4. 
  11. "How to explain dependency injection to a 5-year-old?". 
  12. I.T., Titanium. "James Shore: Dependency Injection Demystified". 
  13. "To "new" or not to "new"…". 
  14. "How to write testable code". 
  15. "Writing Clean, Testable Code". 
  16. Sironi, Giorgio. "When to inject: the distinction between newables and injectables - Invisible to the eye". 
  17. "the urban canuk, eh: On Dependency Injection and Violating Encapsulation Concerns". 
  18. "The Dependency Injection Design Pattern". 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "The Java Community Process(SM) Program - JSRs: Java Specification Requests - detail JSR# 330". 
  20. "3.1. Dependency injection — Python 3: from None to Machine Learning". 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "How Dependency Injection (DI) Works in Spring Java Application Development - DZone Java". 
  22. "Dependency injection and inversion of control in Python — Dependency Injector 4.36.2 documentation". 
  23. "How to Refactor for Dependency Injection, Part 3: Larger Applications -". 
  24. "A quick intro to Dependency Injection: What it is, and when to use it". 18 October 2018. 
  25. "Dependency Injection |". 
  26. "What are the downsides to using Dependency Injection?". 
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Dependency Injection Inversion - Clean Coder". 
  28. "Decoupling Your Application From Your Dependency Injection Framework". 
  29. Martin Fowler (2004-01-23). "Inversion of Control Containers and the Dependency Injection pattern - Forms of Dependency Injection". 
  30. "AccessibleObject (Java Platform SE 7)". 
  31. Riehle, Dirk (2000), Framework Design: A Role Modeling Approach, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 
  32. "Dependency Injection != using a DI container". 
  33. "Black Sheep » DIY-DI » Print". 
  34. "Spring Tips: A POJO with annotations is not Plain". 
  35. "Annotations in POJO – a boon or a curse? | Techtracer". 2007-04-07. 
  36. Pro Spring Dynamic Modules for OSGi Service Platforms. APress. 2009-02-17. ISBN 9781430216124. Retrieved 2015-07-06. 

External links