Monday, November 19, 2012

var p = new Bp()

Don't use abbreviations in your variable, method, or class names. Just don't.

Sure, you save 2 or 3 seconds, and a few characters on the screen, but so what? You, or whoever is looking through your code, loose even more time when you have to look around to find out that cs is an array of Customers. Then you have to spend time trying to figure out why you have this array. Are they delinquent customers? New customers? Customers who have a birthday today? What's the intent of this thing? This is especially bad with primitives or collections of primitives because they have even less inherent meaning. It's also bad when the same variable is used for multiple things. If cs is an array of customer indexes on one line, an array of page numbers on another, and x, y, and z coordinates for an airplane on another line then you can't give it a good name and it should be split into three separate variables: customerIndexes, pageNumbers, and airplaneCoordinate.

Worst names:

Bad names:

Good names:

A name is more than just a unique identifier: it's a way to express intent and meaning. The compiler doesn't care what you use - it's just as fine with zhqxv as it is with unwantedLocationNames - but I know which one I'd prefer.

I can only think of one reason to have a one character or abbreviated name: if it's a well known and commonly accepted part of that domain. Gui and hud may be acceptable names within a user interface domain and x and y sound acceptable when talking about cartesian coordinates. If you look at it a certain way, i and j could be considered valid names within the "looping through a collection with an index" domain, but even then, there's probably a better name.

Try it for a few weeks and see what happens. I think that replacing abbreviations with real, intention revealing names is one of the easiest ways to improve code.

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