The decorator pattern is a design pattern that allows you to wrap an object such that it will appear to execute a given behavior in many different ways at different points in program execution. This is especially useful when you want an object to have different behaviors at but are unable to mutate the object. The decorator pattern is a useful way to implement dynamic behavior without needing an extended inheritance-based class hierarchy. To use the decorator pattern you need four elements: a component interface; a concrete component; a decorator abstraction; and, a concrete decorator. The interface sets the contract for both component and decorator behavior, the decorator abstraction contains a pointer to some concrete component, and the concrete decorators wrap a concrete component and override behavior if desired.
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This code works for our purposes but it’s not exactly dynamic. If we wanted our initial simpleMsg object to sometimes act excited and sometimes quizzical, we could only do so by instantiating entirely new objects from the relevant subclass. Moreover, the ExcitedAndQuizzicalMessage is really just a combination of ExcitedMessage and QuizzicalMessage and probably shouldn’t have its own class. To fix these problems, let’s now return to the decorator pattern and see how it might help us.
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