Programming Chi

Tomasz Fijałkowski's programming blog.

Metrics as Public Variables, Is it Bad?

This article is also available on as Metryki jako zmienne publiczne, czy to złe? [Polish]
The illustration shows a terrified person surrounded by charts, metrics and terms such as metrics, public variables, getter and setter

Global state is evil until proven otherwise.

Martin Fowler

On this blog, I sometimes touch upon taboo subjects like in post Optional as a Field and what are you going to do to me about it?. This time, it’s about static public variables. Much has already been said about the harm their usage has inflicted on the world. In this post, I’d like to analyze a specific case of their usage, namely metrics.

Metrics, Metrics Everywhere

In the Mierz logi na zamiary (bite off more than you can measure) post by Bartek Gałek, he described how important metrics are. Collecting metrics is also very straightforward. In the Spring framework, all you need to do is inject MeterRegistry

Well, yes, just inject MeterRegistry. But does everything in my code have to be a Bean just to collect metrics? If I want to collect metrics in a POJO, do I have to create a factory that will be a Bean and set the MeterRegistry in the POJO instance?

Of course NOT! After all, if you want to log something, you don’t inject a logger (at least I haven’t encountered that). Instead, you use a static instance and log whatever and wherever you want. I assume that logs and metrics are not that distant from each other. So let’s try to apply a similar approach to metrics.

Global Variables Come to the Rescue

In the simplest approach, we could just create a class with a public static field holding an instance of MeterRegistry. We would initialize this field at the start of the application and then use it freely. Below is a slightly more elaborate implementation, where the mutator has package visibility and the accessor is public.

public class MeterRegistryHolder {
    private static MeterRegistry aMeterRegistry;
        static void init(MeterRegistry meterRegistry) {
            aMeterRegistry = meterRegistry;
        public static MeterRegistry meterRegistry() {
            return aMeterRegistry;
public class MeterRegistryHolderInitializer {
    MeterRegistryHolderInitializer(MeterRegistry meterRegistry) {

This implementation is very simple yet provides immense flexibility for adding metrics in the code.

If you need several instances of MeterRegistry because, for example, you send metrics to different places, you can extend the MeterRegistryHolder class to hold multiple instances.

For convenience, you can add a static import for MeterRegistryHolder.meterRegistry. The code will remain largely unchanged. Instead of meterRegistry.counter(), it will be meterRegistry().counter().

You can also use the Metrics class from Micrometer. It has a much more extensive API through which, although we don’t have access to the MetricRegistry object, we have a range of methods for generating metric instances associated with the global MetricRegistry.


Global variables are not without reason infamous. Below are two limitations of the discussed approach to keep in mind.

If you need to test metrics, you can achieve this by setting Spy/Mock in MeterRegistryHolder or initialize it by SimpleMeterRegistry. However, note that in this case, metric tests should not be run concurrently.

Also, note that in this implementation, we do not control the order in which beans are initialized and when MeterRegistryHolder will be initialized. Therefore, if you try to collect metrics during application context initialization, the meterRegistry reference may be empty. In such a situation, you can either expand the MeterRegistryHolder (I have prepared a sample implementation on GitHub) or resort to the old proven injection. A simple implementation of MeterRegistryHolder can be used for everything that happens after the context is initialized.

I’m not assuming that this approach will work in all cases. In my recent projects, it worked great, providing a lot of freedom for adding metrics.

Message for Today

Give global variables a chance (especially when you limit their variability to the package scope).