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Java naming conventions

Make your life easier

Scott W. Ambler (scott_ambler@ca.ibm.com), Practice Leader, Agile Development, Rational Methods Group, IBM
Scott W. Ambler is President of Ronin International, a consulting firm specializing in object-oriented software process mentoring, architectural modeling, and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) development. He has authored or co-authored several books about object-oriented development, including the recently released The Object Primer 2nd Edition, which covers, in detail, the subjects summarized in this article. He can be reached at scott.ambler@ronin-intl.com and at his Web site at www.ambysoft.com.

Summary:  In this first tip from Scott Ambler, he presents some guidelines for naming various Java elements, to make your job easier.

Date:  13 Jul 2000
Level:  Introductory

Comments:  

Use full descriptors that accurately describe the variable, field, or class

For example, use names like firstName, grandTotal, or CorporateCustomer. Although names like x1, y1, or fn are easy to type because they're short, they do not provide any indication of what they represent and result in code that is difficult to understand, maintain, and enhance.


Use terminology applicable to the domain

If your users refer to their clients as customers, then use the term Customer for the class, not Client. Many developers make the mistake of creating generic terms for concepts when perfectly good terms already exist in the industry or domain.


Use mixed case to make names readable

You should use lowercase letters in general, but capitalize the first letter of class names and interface names, as well as the first letter of any non-initial word.


Use abbreviations sparingly and intelligently

This means you should maintain a list of standard short forms (abbreviations), you should choose them wisely, and you should use them consistently. For example, if you want to use a short form for the word number, then choose one of nbr, no, or num, document the one you choose (it doesn't really matter which one), and use only that one.


Avoid long names (15 characters max is a good idea)

Although the class name PhysicalOrVirtualProductOrService might seem to be a good class name at the time (OK, I'm stretching it on this example), this name is simply too long and you should consider renaming it to something shorter -- perhaps something like Offering.


Avoid names that are too similar or that differ only in case

The variable names persistentObject and persistentObjects should not be used together, nor should anSqlDatabase and anSQLDatabase.


Capitalize the first letter of standard acronyms

Names will often contain standard abbreviations, such as SQL for Standard Query Language. Names such as sqlDatabase for an attribute or SqlDatabase for a class are easier to read than sQLDatabase and SQLDatabase.


Resources

About the author

Scott W. Ambler is President of Ronin International, a consulting firm specializing in object-oriented software process mentoring, architectural modeling, and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) development. He has authored or co-authored several books about object-oriented development, including the recently released The Object Primer 2nd Edition, which covers, in detail, the subjects summarized in this article. He can be reached at scott.ambler@ronin-intl.com and at his Web site at www.ambysoft.com.

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