CppCon 2019: Naming is Hard: Let’s do Better

Kate Gregory

gregcons.com/kateblog

Naming things

  • It matters
  • It’s a learned skill

Not Naming conventions

  • camelCase, snake_case, PascalCase ….

Names carry meaning

  • expire date vs end date
  • is a date or datetime
  • It matters everywhere
  • Bad names confuse
  • Giving something the correct name may happen long after it’s first written

Naming requires empathy

  • sort/partial_sort/partial_sort_copy
  • top_n() is better name

Consitency

  • Names exist outside of your code
    • Headings n reports
    • Emails
  • Alaows call things by their proper names, everywhere
  • Don’t use same words for different things
  • Don’t accept similar English words in conversation
  • Don’t invent business works
  • Avoid pre/post and other “dependent” names
    • Unless the business uses them
  • Prefer single English words like “Save” or “Location” vs UpdateConfigFile and StorageCoOrdinates
  • Don’t mimsmatch
    • begin goes with end, …
  • Functions are verbs
  • Helper verbs: isEmpty() less ambigrous then empty()
  • isShippable() vs canShip() vs getShipStatus()
    • avoid the “-able”
  • Tools matter
    • alphabetical lists
  • Classes are Nons
    • Anything ending in “er (et al) is suspect without a noun
  • Adjectives are your friend
    • FullName not Name
  • Avoid encoding type
    • exceoptions: Date, asX
  • Maybe avoid leaking enums? e.g. instead of getStatus() == Application::OK maybe isApproved()
  • Don’t abbreviate
  • templates:
    • One? T is ok
    • Two: make meaningful
  • When to name things? When you know what it is
    • Sometimes before you even write the code
    • Never miss an opportunity to fix a name
    • Sometimes when code chnags the names need to change

Better naming

  • Care about the code you write and the people who will read it
  • Think about the purposes names server
  • Don’t be paralyzed
    • Fix it later
  • Demand good names
  • When you learn what something is, fix its name

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