Naming Things
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Naming Things

The Hardest Problem in Software Engineering

About the Book

Naming is one of the most difficult and enduring challenges in software engineering, but few of us do it well. This practical and comprehensive book provides a set of principles, rules, and application guidelines for efficiently choosing good names in your code.

These skills can be used throughout your career, and they’re useful for every programming language, technical domain, and experience level. The book incorporates real-world examples to illustrate how to choose good names and avoid bad names.

This book includes:

  • Rules for how to choose good names and avoid bad names
  • Principles to help you remember the general qualities of good names
  • Real-world examples
  • Guidelines on the application of these rules and principles, including balancing tradeoffs, renaming best practices, and choosing domain-specific names
  • Tips on how to develop your naming skills throughout your career

Printed copies of this book are available on Amazon.

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  • Categories

    • Software Engineering
    • Computers and Programming
    • Software Architecture
    • Refactoring
    • Computer Science
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About the Author

Tom Benner
Tom Benner

Tom has over 15 years of software engineering industry experience in startups and public companies, including roles as engineering manager, software architect, technical lead, and CTO. He has professional experience across a variety of technical domains, including software engineering, product engineering, data engineering, ML engineering, and infrastructure engineering. In his free time, he has created two successful SaaS businesses, mentored software engineering students, spoken at technology meetups, and built several popular open source projects.

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. I. Introduction
    1. 1. Purpose of this book
    2. 2. Why is naming important?
      1. 2.1. Understandable code
      2. 2.2. Productivity and happiness
      3. 2.3. Career growth
    3. 3. Why is naming hard?
      1. 3.1. Dynamic, subjective requirements
      2. 3.2. Insufficient best practices and tooling
      3. 3.3. Short-term costs and long-term value
      4. 3.4. How can we make naming easier?
    4. 4. Scope of this book
  3. II. Principles
    1. 5. Overview
      1. 5.1. List of principles
    2. 6. Understandability
      1. 6.1. Overview
      2. 6.2. Rules
    3. 7. Conciseness
      1. 7.1. Overview
      2. 7.2. Rules
    4. 8. Consistency
      1. 8.1. Overview
      2. 8.2. Rules
    5. 9. Distinguishability
      1. 9.1. Overview
      2. 9.2. Rules
  4. III. Application
    1. 10. Overview
    2. 11. Tradeoffs
      1. 11.1. Overview
      2. 11.2. Consistency vs. other principles
      3. 11.3. Understandability vs. Conciseness
      4. 11.4. Understandability vs. Distinguishability
      5. 11.5. Conciseness vs. Distinguishability
    3. 12. Identifier types
      1. 12.1. Overview
      2. 12.2. Classes
      3. 12.3. Variables
      4. 12.4. Methods
      5. 12.5. Method arguments
      6. 12.6. Interfaces
      7. 12.7. Constants
      8. 12.8. Packages/modules/namespaces
    4. 13. Style guides
    5. 14. Controlled vocabularies
      1. 14.1. Evolution of controlled vocabularies
      2. 14.2. Further reading
    6. 15. Renaming
      1. 15.1. Scope
      2. 15.2. Principal and interest
      3. 15.3. Process
    7. 16. Domain-specific names
      1. 16.1. Consult domain-related resources
      2. 16.2. Consult domain experts
      3. 16.3. Consult team members
    8. 17. Developing naming skills
      1. 17.1. Improving your naming skills
      2. 17.2. Improving your team’s naming skills
  5. IV. Appendix
    1. 18. Common antonyms
    2. 19. Visually similar characters
    3. 20. Rejected principles
      1. 20.1. Length
      2. 20.2. Searchability
      3. 20.3. Pronounceability
      4. 20.4. Meaningfulness
      5. 20.5. Austerity
      6. 20.6. Accuracy
      7. 20.7. Precision
      8. 20.8. Concision
  6. References

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