Software engineering

Composition Over Inheritance: A Better Approach to Software Design

This principle advocates for favoring composition-based relationships between classes rather than relying heavily on inheritance

When it comes to designing robust and maintainable software systems, one of the key principles that developers often adhere to is Composition over Inheritance. This principle advocates for favoring composition-based relationships between classes rather than relying heavily on inheritance.

In this blog post, we'll explore why composition is often a better choice and provide code examples to illustrate its benefits.

Understanding Composition and Inheritance

Before diving into the advantages of composition over inheritance, let's briefly review what these concepts entail:

Inheritance: Inheritance is a mechanism in object-oriented programming (OOP) where a class (subclass) can inherit attributes and behaviors from another class (superclass). Subclasses extend and specialize the functionality of their superclasses.

Composition: Composition, on the other hand, involves creating complex objects by combining simpler objects or components. Rather than inheriting functionality, a class contains instances of other classes as members, allowing it to leverage their functionalities.

Advantages of Composition Over Inheritance

1. Flexibility and Reusability

Composition offers greater flexibility compared to inheritance. With composition, you can dynamically change the behavior of a class by replacing its components at runtime. This promotes code reusability as components can be reused across different classes.

Let's consider an example:

# Using Composition
class Engine:
    def start(self):
        print("Engine started")

class Car:
    def __init__(self):
        self.engine = Engine()

    def start(self):

# Creating a Car instance
my_car = Car()
my_car.start()  # Output: Engine started

In this example, the Car class uses composition to incorporate an Engine component. This allows the Car to leverage the start functionality of the Engine without inheritance.

2. Reduced Coupling and Improved Modularity

Composition leads to reduced coupling between classes, making the codebase more modular and easier to maintain. Classes are decoupled from each other, and changes in one class are less likely to impact other classes.

# Using Inheritance (high coupling)
class Animal:
    def make_sound(self):

class Dog(Animal):
    def make_sound(self):

class Cat(Animal):
    def make_sound(self):

# Using Composition (low coupling)
class Sound:
    def make_sound(self):

class Dog(Sound):
    def make_sound(self):

class Cat(Sound):
    def make_sound(self):

In the above code snippets, the composition-based approach promotes lower coupling between Dog and Cat classes, as they are not directly tied to an Animal superclass.

3. Encapsulation and Information Hiding

Composition encourages encapsulation and information hiding, leading to better code organization and improved readability. Classes expose only necessary interfaces, enhancing the overall design of the system.

# Using Inheritance
class Animal:
    def __init__(self, name): = name

class Dog(Animal):
    def __init__(self, name):

    def bark(self):
        print(f"{} barks")

# Using Composition
class Animal:
    def __init__(self, name, sound): = name
        self.sound = sound

    def make_sound(self):

# Creating instances
# Inheritance
my_dog = Dog("Buddy")
my_dog.bark()  # Output: Buddy barks


my_animal = Animal("Buddy", "Woof!")
my_animal.make_sound()  # Output: Woof!

In this example, the composition-based Animal class encapsulates both name and sound, promoting better information hiding and encapsulation compared to the inheritance-based approach.


Composition over inheritance offers numerous advantages in software design, including flexibility, reduced coupling, improved modularity, and better encapsulation. By embracing composition-based relationships, developers can create more maintainable, reusable, and scalable codebases.

Remember, while inheritance has its place in certain scenarios, especially for establishing is-a relationships, composition often provides a more robust and adaptable solution for building modern software systems.