What is dependency injection and inversion of control?


Wikipedia provides quite good definitions of dependency injection pattern and related principles:

Dependency injection

In software engineering, dependency injection is a software design pattern that implements inversion of control for resolving dependencies. A dependency is an object that can be used (a service). An injection is the passing of a dependency to a dependent object (a client) that would use it. The service is made part of the client’s state. Passing the service to the client, rather than allowing a client to build or find the service, is the fundamental requirement of the pattern.

Dependency injection allows a program design to follow the dependency inversion principle. The client delegates to external code (the injector) the responsibility of providing its dependencies. The client is not allowed to call the injector code. It is the injecting code that constructs the services and calls the client to inject them. This means the client code does not need to know about the injecting code. The client does not need to know how to construct the services. The client does not need to know which actual services it is using. The client only needs to know about the intrinsic interfaces of the services because these define how the client may use the services. This separates the responsibilities of use and construction.

Inversion of control

In software engineering, inversion of control (IoC) describes a design in which custom-written portions of a computer program receive the flow of control from a generic, reusable library. A software architecture with this design inverts control as compared to traditional procedural programming: in traditional programming, the custom code that expresses the purpose of the program calls into reusable libraries to take care of generic tasks, but with inversion of control, it is the reusable code that calls into the custom, or task-specific, code.

Inversion of control is used to increase modularity of the program and make it extensible, and has applications in object-oriented programming and other programming paradigms. The term was popularized by Robert C. Martin and Martin Fowler.

The term is related to, but different from, the dependency inversion principle, which concerns itself with decoupling dependencies between high-level and low-level layers through shared abstractions.

Dependency inversion

In object-oriented programming, the dependency inversion principle refers to a specific form of decoupling software modules. When following this principle, the conventional dependency relationships established from high-level, policy-setting modules to low-level, dependency modules are reversed, thus rendering high-level modules independent of the low-level module implementation details. The principle states:

  • High-level modules should not depend on low-level modules. Both should depend on abstractions.
  • Abstractions should not depend on details. Details should depend on abstractions.

The principle inverts the way some people may think about object-oriented design, dictating that both high- and low-level objects must depend on the same abstraction.


Let’s go through the code of example.py:

"""The Code."""

class Service:
    """The Service."""

class Client:
    """The Client that uses the Service."""

    def __init__(self):
        """Initialize the Client."""
        self.service = Service()  # The Service is created by the Client

if __name__ == '__main__':
    client = Client()  # Application creates the Client

At some point, things defined above mean, that the code from example.py, could look different, like in example_di.py:

"""The Code that demonstrates dependency injection pattern."""

class Service:
    """The Service."""

class Client:
    """The Client that uses the Service."""

    def __init__(self, service):  # The Service is injected into the Client
        """Initialize the Client."""
        self.service = service

if __name__ == '__main__':
    service = Service()       # Application creates the Service
    client = Client(service)  # and inject the Service into the Client

Best explanation, ever

Some times ago user198313 posted awesome question about dependency injection on StackOverflow:


How to explain dependency injection to a 5-year-old?

And John Munsch provided absolutely Great answer:


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 doesn’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.