A common practice when selecting a naming convention is to use verb first resulting in names that read like an English phrase like GetThisThing. While establishing and sticking with a naming convention is wise, other factors are presented that may prove helpful, especially grouping concerns.
Although English words are used as the structure of virtually all programming languages, not all developers speak English as their native tongue. Non-English developers will frequently use English terms for their public classes and may go as far as commenting their code in English.
However the English sentence structure may not be the best when we are attempting to form a valuable descriptive phrase. We should consider the benefits of different sentence structures, most notably the position of the verb, when we form names.
If we have a class that has a value that we need to get, set and toggle we might have functions GetThisThing, SetThisThing and ToggleThisThing. We write our class with our three functions plus 38 more. A month later when it is no longer fresh in our minds, or when Joe Developer in the other department needs to make use of our class and work with an instance of ThisThing it is natural to use IntelliSense to find the functions we need.
We can assume that if we start typing .g that IntelliSense will quickly get us to the GetThisThing function. The same is true for our set function. However, since we don't remember or are not familiar with the code, we may not know that there is a toggle function that we require and end up doing the get, toggle, set sequence ourselves. IntelliSense will show us the toggle function, but not until we start with .t. When there are a lot of functions in our class, we are unlikely to notice it.
If we put the verb on the end, our function names would be ThisThingGet, ThisThingSet, ThisThingToggle. Now when we are working with an instance of the class and we need to work with ThisThing and we start typing .t we end up with all of our functions that address ThisThing together.
The use of namespaces allows us to group functional areas together which aids in code manageability. Grouping functions within a class by beginning names with its group accomplishes the same for a class.
We need to balance readability in an English sense and usability from a developer’s perspective. After all, the code is intended to be read by developers and not a general audience.
- 25th July, 2008: Initial post
ShofarNexus™ is software project started in 1998 with a lot of testing and rejecting of methodologies. Our goals were fast startup and execution, a clean presentation and reliable data distribution. We take ReST to the extreme. We focus some on eye-candy and mostly on the meat and vegetables that are good for business.
ShofarNexus™ mentality is well described by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who wrote “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
ShofarNexus™ is single-handedly written by John Kozlowski, with over 35 years of software development experience and a lot of hardware design in the first two decades.