Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Janakiram MSV, Steven Mandel, John Basso, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: PowerBuilder, Microsoft Cloud

PowerBuilder: Article

Elegant Programming: The Art of Naming (Part 1)

Names should be self-explanatory

Give all entities mentioned in the code (DB tables, DB tables' fields, variables, classes, functions, etc.) meaningful, descriptive names that make the code easily understood. The names should be so self-explanatory that it eliminates the need for comments in most cases.

Use the words per and by as often as possible - they really simplify a developer's life. A variable's name li_cows_per_farm is better than li_total_cows, and a function name uf_retrieve_city_by_country tells us more than uf_retrieve_city, especially if it doesn't have parameters that supply the "by what" information.

Don't use abstract words like "actual" and "total' in variables names as they will madden you, forcing to spend extra time trying to understand what is "actual," what is "not actual" and which grouping level is "total" for. Is li_total_cows field total per barn? per farm? per village? per province? per country? per the Universe? If, for example, per farm, then how will you name the total per village? It's also "total"! So, don't write simply "total" - write total PER WHAT! Use only exact definitions that produce no (or minimum) questions, even if that results in longer variables names.

*** BAD code: ***

ldc_total_salary = ldc_actual_salary * ldc_total_hours

*** GOOD code: ***

ldc_salary_per_day = ldc_salary_per_hour * ldc_hours_per_day

Exact Meaning
Consistency

Don't produce different versions of a same entity name (like emp_id / employee_id, inv_num / invoice_num).

When you use values retrieved from database tables, try to name the corresponding variables exactly by the DB fields (of course, adding naming convention prefixes where needed). But you can use local variables' names more freely, especially when the coded logic is complicated while the tables fields are not informative enough (see the previous rule).

Long, Descriptive Names
The common, obvious practice is to give variables and functions short names. But, sometimes, there are situations when it makes sense to break that rule and use long, "real-English" names that will clearly describe what they are for.

For example, it can be done when a variable is in a rare use (like an instance var, which is referenced only a couple of times), but not a local var which is mentioned in the code many times. Anyway, don't be afraid to give long names any time you feel it will simplify working with the code. See the difference between:

is_main_filter = uf_get_main_filter()

and

is_filter_by_selected_row_in_summary_win = uf_get_filter_by_selected_row_in_summary_win()

As you can see, names of variables can tell the whole story. Even if it makes a line too long, there is no problem breaking it into two lines - it's better than looking at a variable and having no idea what is stored in it (or to search its declaration in hopes that a clarifying comment exists). But remember - names of that style should be an exception, not a rule.

Exact Action Timing
Names describing actions must express if the action should be done in the future or was done in the past.

Giving names to variables, don't force readers to guess an action timing. A good example of a bad variable name is lb_is_calculation. How must the condition "if lb_is_calculation then..." be understood? As you can see, there is no problem exists understanding what it means if the variable is named lb_is_calculation_done (lb_is_calculated) or in the imperative form - lb_do_calculation (or simply lb_calculate).

The common advice is to use words do..., ...to_do, perform..., execute..., ...to_apply, etc., for stuff that should take place in the future, and ...done, ...performed, ...executed, ...occurred, ...passed, ...applied, etc., for things that have taken place in the past.

Constants
Constants for [Meaningless] Application Codes

Don't hard code numbers if they are not apparent - use constants instead.

Okay, it's still possible to understand what "if li_inv_year > 2011..." or "if li_month = 4..." is but what do you want to say to a programmer who has written "if li_window_mode = 3..." or "if li_inv_status = 8..."?

Local and Instance Constants Management
Giving names to local and instance constants, divide the family prefix from the mnemonic description by two underscores.

Now let's discuss local and instance-scope constants. Their names must consist of two parts:

  • Group (or "family") - like "ORDER_STATUS" or "INVOICE_STATUS". A few constants of the same family can co-exist in the scope (for example, an order can have many statuses). In fact, it's a prefix before the main descriptive part.
  • Description (or mnemonic part) - like "OPEN" or "CLOSED". There can be many constants with the same description (for example, both - an order and an invoice - can have the status "OPEN").

Using two underscores (instead of one) to connect both parts will allow code readers to easily distinguish between them, especially when each part consists of a number of words. For example:

private:

constant string ORDER_STATUS__OPEN = "OPN"
constant string ORDER_STATUS__CLOSED = "CLS"
constant string ORDER_STATUS__CANCELED = "CNCL"

constant string INV_STATUS__OPEN = "OPN"
constant string INV_STATUS__CLOSED = "CLS"
constant string INV_STATUS__CANCELED = "CNCL"

Global Constants Management
Constants, used globally (in different parts of the application), must be declared in not-autoinstantiated NVOs - one NVO per each constants group (or "family") - and accessed via the automatically created global reference variable with the same name, without declaring additional variables and creating instances.

For example, you can have an NVO named n_color for color constants, n_order_status for order statuses constants, etc. It's a good idea to keep them all in one PBL so developers can easily check if the NVO for the group they need already exists or must be created. The constants are declared in the instance variables declaration section in a very straightforward way. Here is a possible set for n_order_status:

public:

constant string OPEN = "OPN"
constant string CLOSED = "CLS"
constant string CANCELED = "CNCL"

If you open any not-autoinstantiated class in the "View Source" mode, you can see that PowerBuilder automatically creates a global variable of that object's type with the same name as the class (PB doesn't know that we add "g" to global vars! :-D ). For example, if you create n_order_status class (not-autoinstantiated, remember?) and look at its source, you'll see the following line:

global n_order_status n_order_status

That's exactly the mentioned declaration of the global var. You don't need to declare a variable of the object each time you need to use a constant in your script - you already have a variable ready for use. That's how you mention a constant in the code:

n_order_status.OPEN

Looking pretty similar to enum of C# but, unfortunately, it's not an enumerated type; you cannot declare a function argument of type n_order_status and pass to that function one of the statuses (which is of type string) defined in the type - you can only pass a reference to n_order_status object, which doesn't solve the problem of passing type-safe arguments. You can make the argument of type string to pass a particular status, but this approach doesn't supply type safety - nothing prevents you from passing an invoice status or even the name of your cat...

Pay attention that PowerBuilder only declares a global variable; it doesn't create an object referenced by that variable. Practically it means that we can use only constants because they belong to a type (not an instance) definition (something similar to static data in C#). If you try to access an instance variable or a function of that global var, then you will get the "Null object reference" error. As opposed to C#, which will happen even if the function doesn't access instance data, so there is nothing like C#'s "static function" behavior in PowerBuilder.

For standalone constants (not belonging to any family) create one common NVO named, let's say, n_const.

More Stories By Michael Zuskin

Michael Zuskin is a certified software professional with sophisticated programming skills and experience in Enterprise Software Development.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.