Names Matter, Pick Your Battles


Recently I was asked why we spend so much time, effort, and energy discussing names on the 6 Figure Developer. Well, names matter.

What’s in a name?

Names are used to describe and define things. They’re used to communicate intent and meaning. Chances are, unless you’re an 80’s pop star you have more than one name yourself.

When we were children we gave your stuffed animals names like Rammy or Sealy. We knew our friends by their names. We learned the names of cities and the planets. We’ve been learning the importance of names since we learned to communicate.

Names are important

Having spent more time than I care to admit maintaining other peoples code, I will reemphasize the importance of names. There have been times that I’ve grown frustrated with a past author at their lack of descriptive names, only to find out I was the offending author. Save others (and potentially yourself) some heartache. Use descriptive names whenever possible.

When choosing to declare a variable, choose the name wisely. A few carefully spent seconds could save hours later. Don’t use names like templist when you know the purpose of the variable. Use descriptive method names like SaveDocument instead of Process. Odin help you if you use a variable name for anything other than a loop counter.

Uncle Bob even devoted an entire chapter in Clean Code on the subject!

Don’t die on that hill!

Don’t get religious with names. If you lose a colleague or coworker on the names discussion, you’re in for greater troubles ahead. The most important thing here is that you and your team decide what’s best for the team on any given project. Come to an agreement that you all can live with. I would urge the team to lean towards being more communicative, but certainly not at the risk of anyone’s comfort.

Pick your battles carefully

With that in mind, its important to pick your battles carefully. Remember, if you can’t get names right on a team you’re going to have much larger problems with communication. You’re going to spend a lot of time working with each other. Make sure your work environment is a pleasant experience.

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So I say to you dear reader, fret not. We’ll continue onto bigger and better topics soon. However, we may need to revisit some topics from time to time. I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates with 1 year of experience repeated 23 times. It may take us some time to get everyone up to speed.

A Microsoft MVP, John has been a professional developer since 1999. He has focused primarily on web technologies and has experience with everything from PHP to C# to AngularJS to SignalR. Clean code and professionalism are particularly important to him, as well as mentoring and teaching others what he has learned along the way.

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