Class::Singleton - Implementation of a "Singleton" class


Class::Singleton - Implementation of a ``Singleton'' class


    use Class::Singleton;
    my $one = Class::Singleton->instance();   # returns a new instance
    my $two = Class::Singleton->instance();   # returns same instance


This is the Class::Singleton module. A Singleton describes an object class that can have only one instance in any system. An example of a Singleton might be a print spooler or system registry. This module implements a Singleton class from which other classes can be derived. By itself, the Class::Singleton module does very little other than manage the instantiation of a single object. In deriving a class from Class::Singleton, your module will inherit the Singleton instantiation method and can implement whatever specific functionality is required.

For a description and discussion of the Singleton class, see ``Design Patterns'', Gamma et al, Addison-Wesley, 1995, ISBN 0-201-63361-2.


Class::Singleton requires Perl version 5.004 or later. If you have an older version of Perl, please upgrade to latest version, available from your nearest CPAN site (see INSTALLATION below).


The Class::Singleton module is available from CPAN. As the 'perlmod' man page explains:

    CPAN stands for the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network.
    This is a globally replicated collection of all known Perl
    materials, including hundreds of unbunded modules.
    For an up-to-date listing of CPAN sites, see or .

The module is available in the following directories:


Class::Singleton is distributed as a single gzipped tar archive file:


Note that ``<version>'' represents the current version number, of the form ``1.23''. See VERSION below to determine the current version number for Class::Singleton.

Unpack the archive to create an installation directory:

    gunzip Class-Singleton-<version>.tar.gz
    tar xvf Class-Singleton-<version>.tar

'cd' into that directory, make, test and install the module:

    cd Class-Singleton-<version>
    perl Makefile.PL
    make test
    make install

The 'make install' will install the module on your system. You may need root access to perform this task. If you install the module in a local directory (for example, by executing ``perl Makefile.PL LIB=~/lib'' in the above - see perldoc MakeMaker for full details), you will need to ensure that the PERL5LIB environment variable is set to include the location, or add a line to your scripts explicitly naming the library location:

    use lib '/local/path/to/lib';


To import and use the Class::Singleton module the following line should appear in your Perl program:

    use Class::Singleton;

The instance() method is used to create a new Class::Singleton instance, or return a reference to an existing instance. Using this method, it is only possible to have a single instance of the class in any system.

    my $highlander = Class::Singleton->instance();

Assuming that no Class::Singleton object currently exists, this first call to instance() will create a new Class::Singleton and return a reference to it. Future invocations of instance() will return the same reference.

    my $macleod    = Class::Singleton->instance();

In the above example, both $highlander and $macleod contain the same reference to a Class::Singleton instance. There can be only one.


A module class may be derived from Class::Singleton and will inherit the instance() method that correctly instantiates only one object.

    package PrintSpooler;
    use base 'Class::Singleton';
    # derived class specific code
    sub submit_job {
    sub cancel_job {

The PrintSpooler class defined above could be used as follows:

    use PrintSpooler;
    my $spooler = PrintSpooler->instance();

The instance() method calls the _new_instance() constructor method the first and only time a new instance is created. All parameters passed to the instance() method are forwarded to _new_instance(). In the base class the _new_instance() method returns a blessed reference to a hash array containing any arguments passed as either a hash reference or list of named parameters.

    package MyConfig;
    use base 'Class::Singleton';
    sub foo {
        shift->{ foo };
    sub bar {
        shift->{ bar };
    package main;
    # either: hash reference of named parameters
    my $config = MyConfig->instance({ foo => 10, bar => 20 });
    # or: list of named parameters
    my $config = MyConfig->instance( foo => 10, bar => 20 );
    print $config->foo();   # 10
    print $config->bar();   # 20

Derived classes may redefine the _new_instance() method to provide more specific object initialisation or change the underlying object type (to a list reference, for example).

    package MyApp::Database;
    use base 'Class::Singleton';
    use DBI;
    # this only gets called the first time instance() is called
    sub _new_instance {
        my $class = shift;
        my $self  = bless { }, $class;
        my $db    = shift || "myappdb";    
        my $host  = shift || "localhost";
        $self->{ DB } = DBI->connect("DBI:mSQL:$db:$host")
            || die "Cannot connect to database: $DBI::errstr";
        # any other initialisation...
        return $self;

The above example might be used as follows:

    use MyApp::Database;
    # first use - database gets initialised
    my $database = MyApp::Database->instance();

Some time later on in a module far, far away...

    package MyApp::FooBar
    use MyApp::Database;
    # this FooBar object needs access to the database; the Singleton
    # approach gives a nice wrapper around global variables.
    sub new {
        my $class = shift;
        bless {
            database => MyApp::Database->instance(),
        }, $class;

The Class::Singleton instance() method uses a package variable to store a reference to any existing instance of the object. This variable, ``_instance'', is coerced into the derived class package rather than the base class package.

Thus, in the MyApp::Database example above, the instance variable would be:


This allows different classes to be derived from Class::Singleton that can co-exist in the same system, while still allowing only one instance of any one class to exists. For example, it would be possible to derive both 'PrintSpooler' and 'MyApp::Database' from Class::Singleton and have a single instance of each in a system, rather than a single instance of either.

You can use the has_instance() method to find out if a particular class already has an instance defined. A reference to the instance is returned or undef if none is currently defined.

    my $instance = MyApp::Database->has_instance()
        || warn "No instance is defined yet";



This method is called to return a current object instance or create a new one by calling _new_instance().


This method returns a reference to any existing instance or undef if none is defined.

    my $testing = MySingleton1->has_instance()
        || warn "No instance defined for MySingleton1";


This ``private'' method is called by instance() to create a new object instance if one doesn't already exist. It is not intended to be called directly (although there's nothing to stop you from calling it if you're really determined to do so).

It creates a blessed hash reference containing any arguments passed to the method as either a hash reference or list of named parameters.

    # either: hash reference of named parameters
    my $example1 = MySingleton1->new({ pi => 3.14, e => 2.718 });
    # or: list of named parameters
    my $example2 = MySingleton2->new( pi => 3.14, e => 2.718 );

It is important to remember that the instance() method will only call the _new_instance() method once, so any arguments you pass may be silently ignored if an instance already exists. You can use the has_instance() method to determine if an instance is already defined.


Andy Wardley <>

Thanks to Andreas Koenig for providing some significant speedup patches and other ideas.


This is version 1.4, released September 2007


Copyright Andy Wardley 1998-2007. All Rights Reserved.

This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

 Class::Singleton - Implementation of a "Singleton" class