Friday, September 17, 2010

Specific cases of naming enhancing naming style

The term find can be used in methods where something is looked up.

vertex.findNearestVertex(); matrix.findSmallestElement(); node.findShortestPath(Node destinationNode);
Give the reader the immediate clue that this is a simple look up method with a minimum of computations involved. Consistent use of the term enhances readability.

The term initialize can be used where an object or a concept is established.
printer.initializeFontSet();
The American initializeshould be preferred over the English initialise. Abbreviation init must be avoided.




Plural form should be used on names representing a collection of objects.
Collection points; int[] values;
Enhances readability since the name gives the user an immediate clue of the type of the variable and the operations that can be performed on its elements.
 

n prefix should be used for variables representing a number of objects.
nPoints, nLines
The notation is taken from mathematics where it is an established convention for indicating a number of objects.

Note that Sun use num prefix in the core Java packages for such variables. This is probably meant as an abbreviation of number of, but as it looks more like number it makes the variable name strange and misleading. If "number of" is the preferred phrase, numberOf prefix can be used instead of just n. num prefix must not be used.

No suffix should be used for variables representing an entity number.
tableNo, employeeNo
The notation is taken from mathematics where it is an established convention for indicating an entity number.

An elegant alternative is to prefix such variables with an i: iTable, iEmployee. This effectively makes them named iterators.

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