Ken Lee, thoughts and et cetera

Naming Things

April 24, 20201 min read

Naming things is one of the two hard things in Computer Science.

Probably a phrase that you have seen hundreds of times. But why is it hard? Isn’t naming things simply an act of assigning characters to that particular entity? Heck, in Computer Science, the name does not even need to be pronounceable.

So what exactly is the fuss about naming things?

Let me ask you, why do we name? No I am not speaking about this or that.

We name variables, to express an intention. To explain what we want to achieve, or how we are achieving it.

For instance, a function that compares two numbers and returns the larger number.

func a(int b, int c) {
  return b > c ? b : c;
}

Notice that we have used the arbitrary characters a, b, c to name the function and parameters. By practising good naming conventions, we can better express our intent.

func getLargerInt(int l, int r) {
  return l > r ? l : r;
}

It is up to us, to name a value a, or l, or left. How do we decide exactly how to name?

This, my friend, is the fuss about naming things.

We know that naming things a is bad most of the time. But some of the time, acceptable.

We know that naming things left is good most of time, but on occasions, bad.