Topics covered:

  • General Naming Guidelines
    • The Power of Meaningful Names
  • Naming Classes / Types / Applications
    • Naming Classes, Interfaces, Types, Delegates, Enumerations, Namespaces, Files, Folders, Assemblies, Applications
  • Naming Methods and Method Parameters
  • Naming Variables and Constants
  • Other Naming Guidelines

Video (in Bulgarian)

Presentation Content

General Naming Guidelines

  • Always use English
    • How will you feel if you read Vietnamese code with variables named in Vietnamese?
    • English is the only language that all software developers speak
  • Avoid abbreviations except accepted ones
    • Example: scrpCnt vs. scriptsCount
  • Avoid hard-to-pronounce names
    • Example: dtbgRegExPtrn vs. dateTimeBulgarianRegExPattern

Use Meaningful Names

  • Always prefer meaningful names
    • Names should answer these questions:
      • What does this class do? What is the intent of this variable? What is this variable / class used for?
    • Correct examples:
      • FactorialCalculator, studentsCount, Math.PI, configFileName, CreateReport
    • Incorrect examples:
      • k, k2, k3, junk, f33, KJJ, button1, variable, temp, tmp, temp_var, something, someValue

Names Should Be Meaningful in Their Context

  • Whether a name is meaningful or not depends on its context (its enclosing type)
  • Examples of meaningful names:
    • Generate() in the class LabyrinthGenerator
    • Find(string fileName) in the class FileFinder
    • Deposit(decimal amount) in the class Account
  • Examples of meaningless names:
    • Generate() in the class Program
    • Find(string name) in the class Program

Fake Meaningful Names

  • Junior developers often use “fake” meaningful names that are in fact meaningless
    • Bad naming examples:
      • Topic6Exercise12, LoopsExercise12, Problem7, OOPLecture_LastExercise
    • Yes, Topic6Exercise12 indicates that this is solution to exercise 12, but what is it about?
      • Sum of numbers or Tetris game?
    • Better naming:
      • MaximalNumbersSubsequence

Naming Classes and Types

  • Naming types (classes, structures, etc.)
    • Use PascalCase character casing
      • In C#, JavaScript, Java, PHP
    • Correct examples:
      • RecursiveFactorialCalculator, TreeSet, XmlDocument, IEnumerable, Color, TreeNode, InvalidTransactionException, MainForm
    • Incorrect examples:
      • recursiveFactorialCalculator, recursive_factorial_calculator, RECURSIVE_FACTORIAL_CALCULATOR

Naming Classes and Structures in C#, JavaScript, C++ and Java

  • Use the following formats:
    • [Noun]
    • [Adjective] + [Noun]
  • Correct examples:
    • Student, FileSystem, BinaryTreeNode, Constants, MathUtils, CheckBox, Calendar
  • Incorrect examples:
    • Move, FindUsers, Fast, ExtremlyFast, Optimize, Check, FastFindInDatabase

Naming Interfaces in C#

  • Following formats are acceptable:
    • I’ + [Verb] + ’able
    • I’ + [Noun], ’I’ + [Adjective] + [Noun]
  • Correct examples:
    • IEnumerable, IFormattable, IDataReader,IList, IHttpModule,ICommandExecutor
  • Incorrect examples:
    • List, iFindUsers, IFast, IMemoryOptimize, Optimizer, FastFindInDatabase, CheckBox

Naming Interfaces in Java

  • Following formats are acceptable:
    • [Verb] + ’able
    • [Noun], [Adjective] + [Noun]
  • Correct examples:
    • Serializable , Enumerable, Comparable, Runnable, CharSequence, OutputStream
  • Incorrect examples:
    • list, FindUsers, Run, Inumber, OPTIMIZER, IMemoryOptimize, FastFindInDatabase

Naming Enumerations in C#

  • Several formats are acceptable:
    • [Noun] or [Verb] or [Adjective]
  • Use the same style for all members
  • Correct examples:
    • enum Day {Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, …}, enum AppState {Running, Finished, …}, enum WindowState {Normal, Maximized, …}
  • Incorrect examples:
    • enum Color {red, green, blue, white},enum PAGE_FORMAT {A4, A5, A3, LEGAL, …}

Naming Enumerations in Java

  • Several formats are acceptable:
    • [Noun] or [Verb] or [Adjective]
  • Use PascalCase for the enumeration and CAPITALS for its members
  • Correct examples:
    • enum Suit {CLUBS, DIAMONDS, HEARTS, SPADES}, enum Color {RED, GREEN, BLUE, …}
  • Incorrect examples:
    • enum Color {red, green, blue, white},enum PAGE_FORMAT {A4, A5, A3, LEGAL, …}

Naming Special Classes

  • Attributes
    • Add ’Attribute’ as suffix
    • Correct example: WebServiceAttribute
    • Incorrect example: WebService
  • Collection Classes
    • Add ’Collection’ as suffix
    • Correct example: StringsCollection
    • Incorrect example: ListOfStrings
  • Exceptions
    • Add ’Exception’ as suffix
    • Use informative name
    • Correct example: FileNotFoundException
    • Incorrect example: FileNotFoundError
  • Delegate Classes
    • Add ’Delegate’ or ’EventHandler’ as suffix
    • Correct example: DownloadFinishedDelegate
    • Incorrect example: akeUpNotification

The Length of Class Names

  • How long could be the name of a class / struct / interface / enum / delegate?
    • The name should be as long as required
    • Don’t abbreviate the names if this could make them unclear
    • Your IDE has autocomplete, right?
  • Correct examples: FileNotFoundException, CustomerSupportNotificationService
  • Incorrect examples: FNFException, CustSuppNotifSrvc

Naming Namespaces in C#

  • Namespaces naming guidelines
    • Use PascalCase
  • Following formats are acceptable:
    • Company . Product . Component .
    • Product . Component .
  • Correct example:
    • Telerik.WinControls.GridView
  • Incorrect examples:
    • Telerik_WinControlsGridView, Classes

Naming Java Packages /JS Namespaces

  • Packages naming guidelines
    • Use camelCase
  • Following formats are acceptable:
    • com . company . product . component .
    • product . component .
  • Correct examples:
    •, hibernate.core
  • Incorrect examples:
    • IBM.DB2.Data, ibm.db2_data, Tetris.UI

Naming Project Folders

  • Project folders’ names should follow the project namespaces / packages
  • Correct examples:
    • com
      • apple
        • quicktime
    • Telerik.WinControls.GridView
  • Incorrect examples:
    • com_apple_quicktime, quicktime.src

Naming Files in C# / Java

  • Files with source code should have names matching their content
    • File containing a class Student should be named Student.cs /
  • Correct examples:
  • StudentDAO.cs,, CryptographyAlgorithms.cs
  • Incorrect examples:
    • Program.cs,, _d2.cs, WebApplication1.jsp, Page1.aspx

Naming Files in JavaScript

  • Use small letters and hyphensfor JavaScript file names (+ optionally .min + version)
    • Put a single library / component in a single file
  • Correct examples:
  • jquery-1.8.2.min.js, widgets.js, kendo.common.min.js, scriptaculous.js
  • Incorrect examples:
    • KendoUI.js, jQuery_classes.js, MyAjax.Library.js, jQuery-1.8.2.js

Naming .NET Assemblies

  • .NET assembly names should follow the root namespace in its class hierarchy
  • Correct examples:
    • Oracle.DataAccess.dll
    • Interop.CAPICOM.dll
    • Telerik.WinControls.GridView.dll
  • Incorrect examples:
    • OracleDataAccess.dll
    • Telerik_WinControlsGridView.dll

Naming JAR Files in Java

  • JAR files names should consist of single word or several words separated by hyphen
    • Can contain version information
  • Correct examples:
    • xalan25.jar
    • ant-apache-log4j.jar
  • Incorrect examples:
    • Ant.Apache.Log4J.jar
    • Oracle.JDBC.Drivers.jar

Naming Applications

  • Applications should be named meaningfully
    • Use [Noun] or [Adjective] + [Noun]
    • Use PascalCase
  • Correct examples:
    • BlogEngine
    • NewsAggregatorSerivice
  • Incorrect examples:
    • ConsoleApplication4, WebSite2
    • zadacha_14, online_shop_temp2

Naming Methods

  • Methods naming guidelines
    • Use meaningful method names
    • Method names should answer the question:
      • What does this method do?
    • If you cannot find a good name for a method, think about whether it has a clear intent
  • Correct examples: FindStudent, LoadReport, Sinus
  • Incorrect examples: Method1, DoSomething, HandleStuff, SampleMethod, DirtyHack
  • Use PascalCase for C# and camelCase for JavaScript, PHP and Java
    • Example (C#): LoadSettings
    • Example (JS/PHP/Java): loadSettings
  • Prefer the following formats:
    • [Verb], [Verb] + [Noun],[Verb] + [Adjective] + [Noun]
  • Correct examples: Show, LoadSettingsFile, FindNodeByPattern, ToString, PrintList
  • Incorrect examples: Student, Generator, Counter, White, Approximation, MathUtils

Methods Returning a Value

  • Methods returning values should describe the returned value
  • Examples:
    • ConvertMetersToInches, not MetersInches or Convert or ConvertUnit
    • Meters2Inches is still acceptable
    • CalculateSinus is good but Sinus is still acceptable
    • Ensure that the unit of measure is obvious
      • Prefer MeasureFontInPixels to MeasureFont

Single Purpose of All Methods

  • Methods should have a single purpose!
    • Otherwise they cannot be named well
    • How to name a method that creates annual incomes report, downloads updates from internet and scans the system for viruses?
    • CreateAnnualIncomesReportDownloadUpdatesAndScanForViruses is a nice name, right?
  • Methods that have multiple purposes (weak cohesion) are hard to be named
    • Need to be refactored instead of named

Consistency in Methods Naming

  • Use consistent naming in the entire project
    • LoadFile, LoadImageFromFile, LoadSettings, LoadFont, LoadLibrary, but not ReadTextFile
  • Use consistently the opposites at the same level of abstraction:
    • LoadLibrary vs. UnloadLibrary, but NOT FreeHandle
    • OpenFile vs. CloseFile, but NOT DeallocateResource
    • GetName vs. SetName, but NOT AssignName

The Length of Method Names

  • How long could be the name of a method?
    • The name should be as long as required
    • Don’t abbreviate
    • Your IDE has autocomplete
  • Correct examples (C#):
    • LoadCustomerSupportNotificationService, CreateMonthlyAndAnnualIncomesReport
  • Incorrect examples:
    • LoadCustSuppSrvc, CreateMonthIncReport

Naming Method Parameters

  • Method parameters names
    • Preferred form: [Noun] or [Adjective] + [Noun]
    • Should be in camelCase
    • Should be meaningful
    • Unit of measure should be obvious
  • Correct examples: firstName, report, speedKmH, usersList, fontSizeInPixels, font
  • Incorrect examples: p, p1, p2, populate, LastName, last_name, convertImage

Naming Variables

  • Variable names
    • Should be in camelCase
    • Preferred form: [Noun] or [Adjective] + [Noun]
    • Should explain the purpose of the variable
      • If you can’t find good name for a variable check if it has a single purpose
      • Exception: variables with very small scope, e.g. the index variable in a 3-lines long for-loop
    • Names should be consistent in the project

Naming Variables – Example

  • Correct examples:
    • firstName, report, config, usersList , fontSize, maxSpeed, font, startIndex, endIndex, charsCount, configSettingsXml, dbConnection, createUserSqlCommand
  • Incorrect examples:
    • foo, bar, p, p1, p2, populate, LastName, last_name, LAST_NAME, convertImage, moveMargin, MAXSpeed, _firtName, __temp, firstNameMiddleNameAndLastName

More about Naming Variables

  • The name should address the problem we solve, not to the means used to solve it
    • Prefer nouns from the business domain to computer science terms
  • Correct examples:
    • accounts, customers, customerAddress, accountHolder, paymentPlan, vipPlayer
  • Incorrect examples:
    • paymentsPriorityQueue, playersArray, accountsLinkedList, customersHashtable

Naming Boolean Variables

  • Give to boolean variables names that imply true or false
  • Use positive boolean variable names
    • Incorrect example:
  • Correct examples:
  • hasPendingPayment, customerFound, validAddress, positiveBalance, isPrime
  • Incorrect examples:
    • notFound, findCustomerById, player, programStop, run, list, isUnsuccessfull

Naming Special Variables

  • Naming counters
    • Establish a convention, e.g. [Noun] + ’Count
    • Examples: ticketsCount, customersCount
  • State
    • Establish a convention, e.g. [Noun] + ’State
    • Examples: blogParseState, threadState
  • Variables with small scope and span
    • E.g. loop counters
    • Short names can be used, e.g. index, i, u

Temporary Variables

  • Do you really think temporary variables exist?
    • All variables in the program are temporary because are used temporary only during the program execution, right?
  • Temporary variables can always be named better than temp or tmp:
// Swap a[i] and a[j]
int temp = a[i]; (why not? int oldValue = a[i];)
a[i] = a[j];
a[j] = temp; (a[j] = oldValue;)

The Length of Variable Names

  • How long could be the name of a variable?
    • Depends on the variable scope and live time
    • More “famous” variables should have longer and more descriptive name

Naming Constants in C#

  • Use CAPITAL_LETTERS or PascalCase for const fields and PascalCase for readonly
  • Use meaningful names that describe their value
  • Correct examples:
private const int READ_BUFFER_SIZE = 8192;
public static readonly PageSize DefaultPageSize = PageSize.A4;
private const int FONT_SIZE_IN_POINTS = 16;
  • Incorrect examples:
public const int MAX = 512; // Max what? Apples or Oranges?
public const int BUF256 = 256; // What about BUF256 = 1024?
public const string GREATER = ">"; // GREATER_HTML_ENTITY
public const int FONT_SIZE = 16; // 16pt or 16px?
public const PageSize PAGE = PageSize.A4; // Maybe PAGE_SIZE?

Naming Constants

  • Use CAPITAL_LETTERS for JavaScript /Java / PHP / C++ constants
  • Use meaningful names
    • Constants should describe their value
  • Correct examples:
public static final int READ_BUFFER_SIZE = 8192;
public static final PageSize DEFAULT_PAGE_SIZE = PageSize.A4;
public static final int FONT_SIZE_IN_POINTS = 16;
  • Incorrect examples:
public static final int NAME = "BMW"; // What name? Car name?
public static final int BufSize = 256; // Use CAPITALS
public static final int font_size_pixels = 16; // CAPITALS

Names to Avoid

  • Don’t use numbers in the identifiers names
    • Example:
      • PrintReport and PrintReport2
      • What is the difference?
    • Exceptions:
      • When the number is part of the name itself,e.g. RS232Port, COM3, Win32APIFunctions
  • Don’t use Cyrillic or letters from other alphabet
    • FindСтудентByName, DisplayΩ2Protein

Never Give Misleading Name!

  • Giving a misleading name is even worse than giving a totally unclear name
  • Example:
    • Consider a method that calculates the sum of all elements in an array
    • Its should be named Sum or CalculateSum
    • What about naming it CalculateAverage or Max or CheckForNegativeNumber?
    • It’s crazy, but be careful with “copy-paste”

What’s Wrong with This Code?

FileStream fs = new FileStream(FILE_NAME, FileMode.CreateNew);
// Create the writer for data.
BinaryWriter w = new BinaryWriter(fs);
// Write data to
for (int i = 0; i < 11; i++)
  w.Write( (int) i);
// Create the reader for data.
fs = new FileStream(FILE_NAME, FileMode.Open, FileAccess.Read);
BinaryReader r = new BinaryReader(fs);
// Read data from
for (int i = 0; i < 11; i++)