State Design Pattern in Java

Filed Under: Design Patterns

State design pattern is one of the behavioral design pattern. State design pattern is used when an Object change its behavior based on its internal state.

State Design Pattern

state design pattern, state design pattern in java, state pattern

If we have to change the behavior of an object based on its state, we can have a state variable in the Object. Then use if-else condition block to perform different actions based on the state. State design pattern is used to provide a systematic and loosely coupled way to achieve this through Context and State implementations.

State Pattern Context is the class that has a State reference to one of the concrete implementations of the State. Context forwards the request to the state object for processing. Let’s understand this with a simple example.

Suppose we want to implement a TV Remote with a simple button to perform action. If the State is ON, it will turn on the TV and if state is OFF, it will turn off the TV.

We can implement it using if-else condition like below;


public class TVRemoteBasic {

	private String state="";
	public void setState(String state){
	public void doAction(){
			System.out.println("TV is turned ON");
		}else if(state.equalsIgnoreCase("OFF")){
			System.out.println("TV is turned OFF");

	public static void main(String args[]){
		TVRemoteBasic remote = new TVRemoteBasic();


Notice that client code should know the specific values to use for setting the state of remote. Further more if number of states increase then the tight coupling between implementation and the client code will be very hard to maintain and extend.

Now we will use State pattern to implement above TV Remote example.

State Design Pattern Interface

First of all we will create State interface that will define the method that should be implemented by different concrete states and context class.


public interface State {

	public void doAction();

State Design Pattern Concrete State Implementations

In our example, we can have two states – one for turning TV on and another to turn it off. So we will create two concrete state implementations for these behaviors.


public class TVStartState implements State {

	public void doAction() {
		System.out.println("TV is turned ON");



public class TVStopState implements State {

	public void doAction() {
		System.out.println("TV is turned OFF");


Now we are ready to implement our Context object that will change its behavior based on its internal state.

State Design Pattern Context Implementation


public class TVContext implements State {

	private State tvState;

	public void setState(State state) {

	public State getState() {
		return this.tvState;

	public void doAction() {


Notice that Context also implements State and keep a reference of its current state and forwards the request to the state implementation.

State Design Pattern Test Program

Now let’s write a simple program to test our state pattern implementation of TV Remote.


public class TVRemote {

	public static void main(String[] args) {
		TVContext context = new TVContext();
		State tvStartState = new TVStartState();
		State tvStopState = new TVStopState();


Output of above program is same as the basic implementation of TV Remote without using state pattern.

State Design Pattern Benefits

The benefits of using State pattern to implement polymorphic behavior is clearly visible. The chances of error are less and it’s very easy to add more states for additional behavior. Thus making our code more robust, easily maintainable and flexible. Also State pattern helped in avoiding if-else or switch-case conditional logic in this scenario.

State Pattern is very similar to Strategy Pattern, check out Strategy Pattern in Java.

Thats all for State design pattern in java, I hope you liked it.


  1. deepak lodhi says:

    here TvContext implements State interface
    if i do

    TvContext tv=new TvContext();

    wont it start looping??

  2. Praveen Srivastava says:

    This is just awesome. Explained one of the complex design patterns with such a easy example

  3. DrJ says:

    Please change all the references of “it’s” to “its”. They’re driving me crazy (as I work on my dissertation I am sensitive to these things).

  4. Lalit Upadheyay says:

    why TVContext needs to implement State interface ? I think its not required.

    1. randauto says:

      If TVContext do not implement State interface, we can not call method doAction(), it is method we need to do in this lesson.

      1. Ram says:

        If the context (here TVContext) starts to implement a state (here State interface), it is more like a decorator pattern than a state machine.
        It is not necessary that context need to have the same method signature as the state.

  5. Mednnet says:

    According to me, this is an anti-pattern. This is like having a method whith a boolean parameter and 2 actions in it, depending on this boolean.
    It doesn’t respect the seperation of concerns and the single responsability principle : 1 method for 1 action.
    If i need to do the action 1 in a case and the action 2 in another case i’ll create action 1 and action2 méthods.
    With the same example :
    method 1 : public boolean isTheTvOn();
    method 2 : public void turnOnTheTv();
    method 3 : public void turnOffTheTv();
    and determine the action to do in a service layer

    1. Hector Fontanez says:

      You are correct in the sense that the pattern was not implemented correctly. The context class should use the stored state object to call the doWhatever() method and not go to a series of nested ifs to figure out what to do. In my opinion, it is also better to show this example with three states instead of two. Toggling between two states is too simplistic. So:

      public abstract class State
      public abstract next(Context c);
      public abstract previous(Context c);

      The concrete state classes must define what are the valid transitions from a current state (if any). Applying this to a simple navigation (wizard), you don’t want to allow navigation from the first state to the third and from the third to the first. Only the second state should allow both a previous and next states.

      The context class should just use the stored (current) state to determine what to do:

      public class Context
      private State current;

      public void setCurrent(State state)
      current = state;

      public void goNext()

      public void goPrev()

      A possible scenario for a concrete state goes as follows:

      public final class SecondState extends State
      private static SecondState INSTANCE = new SecondState();
      private SecondState() {}

      public void next(Context context)
      System.out.println( "Second to Third state transition" );

      public void previous(Context context)
      System.out.println( "Second to First state transition" );

      This respects both the separation of concerns and the single responsibility principle.

      1. Prasanti says:

        Thanks for posting this.

    2. Someone Better says:

      Unfortunately the explanation is wrong. The client in pattern implementation version also sets the required implementation object, that is not how state pattern works. Blogs like this produce huge content with diluted concepts, which is very bad.

      1. JavaAmateur says:

        Yes, I am looking for a standard book that has valid and correct explanations (like SCJP by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates) of design patterns. If you are aware of any, could you please suggest?

  6. Nisha says:

    Very good example to understand the state pattern implementation

  7. Adelin says:

    Hi and thanks for the nice post.

    The thing that I didn’t understand is what is the purpose of the context its only job is to call doAction() of the provided state, why don’t client code call doAction() of state instead, why do I need to create a Context that its only job is to call doAction() ?


    1. CeeJay says:

      Without the context class, there will not be an object that changes its state internally….

  8. Neal says:

    Great explanation, but it’s little bit confusing where it changes the object alternative.

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