Factory Design Pattern Template

I came across the following code

public class MessageSupportFactory
{
    private static MessageSupportFactory instance = null;

    private MessageSupportFactory()
    {
     .....
    }

   static { 
         instance = new MessageSupportFactory(); 
         }

   public static MessageSupportFactory getInstance()
   {
      return instance;
   }

.....
}

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The question is when should we use a template like this and what does it accomplish?
Thank you.
skiaboxAsked:
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Sharon SethCommented:
The code(template) in MessageSupportFactory class is more about singleton pattern . Singleton pattern is where you want a single instance of the class . The constructor is made private here , so that clients cannot instantiate it .The only way to get an instance of this class is the getInstance() method.  Singletons are used mostly for resources like connectionfactories , applicationcontexts etc.
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Sharon SethCommented:
If you are looking for the Factory design pattern -  As its name implies classes implementing this pattern act as factories that produce instances . Suppose you want to get a connection object to an underlying database . Instead of directly using the new operator and instantiating the connection object , you would approach the factory class (say , ConnectionFactory) to give you an instance of the connection object.

The advantage of using factory pattern . Tomorrow , if you move to a different database vendor , you need not change client code to implement connection logic for that specific vendor . Instead , the connectionFactory (which would have been coded to return specific instances for specific DB vendors) , would handle that

So , in simpler terms , this pattern  creates an abstraction over how classes(in our example , connections) are created
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