Clean Code: Naming Conventions

A series of blog posts based on Robert C. Martin’s book “Clean code : a handbook of agile software craftsmanship“.

You can find the book here.

As a programmer, we are going to be naming lots of variables, classes, and methods. According to Uncle Bob in Clean Code, we should name a variable with the same care we do in naming a first-born child. After all, we are going to need to be able to call it, know what it’s for, and not confuse it with any other variables in our classes.

When we name with care, we name with “intention-revealing” names. Naming well saves you more time in the long run, saves everyone more time, and prevents a snowball of bad things happening to your precious code. The names we choose should answer the big questions:

Why does it exist?
What does it do?
How is it used?

Good and bad naming examples in code.

We need to be able to tell what the code is doing. In the example picture, it is very easy to see what the purpose is of the last three names versus the first name. Explicit names help immediately see what is going on in the code. If you MUST use a single letter name, it is best practice to use it as a local variable inside a short method. The length of a name should correspond to the size of its scope.

Using a name like h, we would have to mentally map what this variable is doing, translating it in our brain to what it actually does, using much more memory. Clarity is king. Use your powers for good naming practices to write code that everyone can understand. Pretend like the next person who will read your code is a violent psychopath who knows your address. It’s serious business!

Class and Method Names

This is something that needs to be written on your computer or tattooed on your arm or put anywhere you can see it, like an affirmation you are practicing, only programmer edition.

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

Class names should have a noun or noun phrase. Class names should not be verbs.

Methods should have verb or verb phrases. Accessors, mutators, and predicates should be named for their value and prefixed with get, set, and is according to the javabean standard.
(“Oracle Java Technologies | Oracle,” 2019).

Don’t be cute in naming. Clever names are memorable only to people who share the same humor and some of us are the only ones laughing at our jokes. I know I’m funny, but others may not think so. Clarity is more important than entertainment. Our cleverness only goes so far as our cultural slang. Naming something dirtNap() meaning kill() or wipeout() meaning DeleteItems() is cute, but the latter is understood by all. A consistent lexicon is worth its weight in gold for the programmers who must use your code.

Other Important Naming Concepts

Pick one word for an abstract concept and stick with it. Using fetch, retrieve, and get as similar methods in different classes goes back to using too much mental memory. Ask yourself some questions about what these methods are doing and see if they are all serving the same purpose to choose an appropriate word.

Don’t Pun. Converse to using one word per abstract concept, do not use the same word for two purposes. Doing so would be a pun. Using “one word per concept”, could end up with a lot of classes using an “add” method as described in the book. If we are using the word for consistency rather than intent, it can get very confusing. Ask yourself what the method is actually doing so you know if you need to name it “insert” or “append”.

Use Solution Domain Names. Programmers will be reading your code so go ahead and use terms that other programmers understand like algorithm names, math terms, and pattern names.

Use Problem Domain Names. Problem domains refers to all the information that defines the problem (i.e. the problem you are solving with code). If there are no programming or computer science terms for what the code is doing, use the name from the problem domain. Good programmers and designers have the important task of separating solution and problem domain concepts.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Add Meaningful Context, But Not Gratuitous Context. Most of the time we have successfully added meaningful context by using good naming, separation of concerns, and well-defined classes. As a last resort, you may have to add some prefixing. If you saw firstName, lastName, street, houseNumber, city, state, and zipcode in a method, you would assume it’s an address. If city was used alone in a method, would you assume it’s part of an address? The context can be added by prefixing with addrState, addrCity, etc so it’s explicitly part of an address.

This doesn’t mean to do this always. Adding gratuitous context can be very confusing, like prefixing every method with the acronym of the application. “ABCFirstName, ABCLastName, ABCStreetAddress” are too much. Shorter names are generally better than long ones when they are clear.

Following some of these rules and asking yourself the important questions about your code will help get you thinking about what and why you are naming things and keeping the code understandable for all, saving you many headaches in the future. Happy coding!

References:

Oracle Java Technologies | Oracle. (2019). Retrieved March 29, 2020, from Oracle.com website: https://www.oracle.com/java/technologies/

Martin, R. C. (2009). Clean code: A handbook of agile software craftsmanship. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.




Android N Developer Course: D5

Today I created a higher or lower game in Android Studio. Used Random class to generate a random number when the app launches.

Created a method that takes the user input when a button is clicked and converts the String to an int. Then I used If statement to take the int object and compare it to the random number that is generated. The app will tell the user higher or lower based on which statement is true. If the number is correct, it tells the user “That’s right! Try again!” and added the Random number code to generate a new number so the user can play again.

Went one step further and created a method called makeToast that takes a String object as its parameters and will display a message to the screen. So when the makeToast function is called, it will display the appropriate message.

This was super fun and it was great to see how to further simplify code by creating the makeToast function. I didn’t see it right away that it was possible, but with time I think I will get better at simplifying my code. And a photo of the app!

Android N Developer Course: D2

Day 5 of 100 days of code.

Learned about Toast today. I think its cute they call it toast because it pops up at the bottom of the screen like toast does out of the toaster.

Toast can only be Long or Short: meaning it will show up at the bottom of the screen for a short or long time. You can also use the variableName.getText().toString() to retrieve what the user entered and display it to the bottom of the screen as well as concatenate any message you want to go along with it. In this case, I added “Hi there, ” so it would display before the name retrieved.

I made a small toast program that has a TextView, a PlainText spot to enter your name, and a button that says “Click me!”.

In the MainActivity, I created an EditText variable and typecasted so the program can find it in the Resources. Here is the code to create this program and the result below!

Overall, I thought this was a neat little bit. I remember watching this video like a year ago and I didn’t think I was ever going to understand it. Well, LOOK AT ME NOW! 🙂

Android N Developer Course: D1

Days 3 and 4 of 100 days of code.

What I’ve Learned:

I had a problem getting my project set up and kept getting the error “Add Google Maven Repository and Sync Project”. The solution to this was to go into the Gradle Project: Build files, find “allprojects” and inside of “repositories” add google() and sync. This error was realized in the MainActivity, my class file for the “import android.support.v7.app.AppCompatActivity;” was read and the AppCompatActivity was red. So, if you ever have this problem.. this solves it. I was trying to run a version of Android that was too old since I am working on the Android N Developer course and had to update it to SDK version 28 and it required the Maven repository.

If you are struggling with getting layout to work in the activitymain.xml, check one of two things. First, go into your component tree and see if you have ConstraintLayout or RelativeLayout. RelativeLayout is a lot easier to work with since you can drag and drop the components onto the screen. Right click ConstraintLayout and “convert view”.

Second, if you ARE using RelativeLayout and they keep popping to the top left corner, go to the top left of your design screen and you will see a tiny little magnet. Click this to turn autoconnect on/off.

Something interesting I found out is 1 dp is roughly 1/60th of an inch. So 160dp is about 1″ on any Android Screen. Good to know for design!

If you are working with TextView and trying to retrieve the text from it by clicking a button, you will create a function that is called when you click the button. You will declare a variable of EditText and typecast EditText to the findViewById (since find VIEW is obviously looking for a view). “R” is for resources and then you will find the ID you entered for the component in the xml file. The button you created on the screen will also need an onClick function saved to it in the XML. You can use Log.i which takes a String tag and String msg parameter. I used the tag as “Info” and used the ID and getText().toString() function to return what it retrieved and convert it to string to display to the log. Code below to explain!

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Why Read My Blog?

If you’re reading this, chances are you are in the same boat as I am: learning to code and finding your way. Most likely, you’re interested in other things and maybe you share some of the same passions as me.

I am in my last year of my BS in Information Technology with a specialization in Software Development. I have worked with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Java, JavaFX, FXML, XML, Kotlin, and have a passion for mobile applications.

I am also interested in health and fitness, meal prepping, nutrition, helping women in technology, sharing knowledge, reading self-help books, self-care, playing piano, and advocating for others struggling with addictions and helping them overcome it.

The main focus of this blog is just to jot down all the little tips and tricks I learn along the way while coding and also post what I am working on to Twitter. I think that those things need to be shared with others (and having a log of those things will also help me remember how I did something!). How many times have you encountered an error or worked through a problem only to encounter it again and say, “I did this before and I don’t remember how to do it now! ARGH!”. Well, I have done that more times than I want to admit so this will be a collective journal that hopefully someone other than just myself will get use out of!

I would love to connect with other tech women and share experiences and learn from each other. I think that education is a social endeavor and the more we can communicate and learn from each other, the faster it will help all of us advance.

I am starting with the 100daysofcode challenge and will be updating this regularly with my progress. If you are doing the same challenge or want to learn more about it, connect with me and we can work through it together! I love accountability partners.