Adapter is a structural design pattern that allows allows the interface of an existing class to be used as another interface. Alternatively, it allows objects with incompatible interfaces to collaborate.

Let's explain this pattern using a very simple example. Assume, we have a legacy Rectangle class with a public member method named display() that expects to receive x, y, w, h parameters, where x and y are the coordinates of the top left of the rectangle and w and h are the width and height of it. But, there is a client code that uses a Point class and wants to pass in two points p1 and p2 to the display method. But, obviously, the current implementation of the display mehtod that is part of the interface of the Rectangle class does not support working with Points. This incongruity can be reconciled by adding an additional level of indirection โ€“ i.e. an Adapter object.

The client code now can interact with the new Rectangle class (via Shape interface) which in turn uses the functionality of the old rectangle class (named LegacyRectangle now!)

public class Rectangle implements Shape {
private LegacyRectangle lr;
// ** constructors and other methods omitted! **
public void display(Point p1, Point p2) {
int w = p2.getX() - p1.getX();
int h = p1.getY() - p1.getY();
lr.display(p1.getX(), p2.getY(), w, h);

As an aside, also note this pattern follows the Dependency Inversion Principle.

The general idea of an adapter class is similar to adapter in the physical world: think of a mobile charger as an adapter; the mobile battery needs 3 volts to charge but the normal socket produces either 120V (US) or 220V (Europe). So the mobile charger works as an adapter between the mobile charging socket and the wall socket. Another real life example could be a case of card reader which acts as an adapter between memory card and a laptop.

When to use this pattern?

Use the Adapter when you want to use some existing class, but its interface isn't compatible with the rest of your code.


You don't need to change the existing class or the interface. By introducing a new class, which acts as an adapter between the interface and the existing class, you reuse your existing code without changing it.