What's in a Name? - Arthur Dick

Friday, April 19th, 2024

In the grand language of code, variables, functions, and classes play together to create the symphony of our programs. But what makes the music clear and beautiful? Just like a well-written piece relies on each note, the readability and maintainability of code depend heavily on one crucial element: naming.

Sure, you can technically name a function "doStuff" and a variable "temp," but future you (or any poor soul collaborating with you) will be left scratching their heads. Meaningful names are the cornerstones of clean code, and in this post, we'll delve into why they matter and explore best practices for crafting names that sing.

Why Naming Matters

Imagine walking into a library where every book is simply labeled "Book 1," "Book 2," and so on. Finding what you need would be a nightmare! Code suffers the same fate with unclear names. Here's how meaningful names benefit you:

Crafting Clear Names: Best Practices

Now that we've established the importance of naming, let's explore some best practices to guide you:

Examples and Anti-Examples

Let's see some examples to illustrate the power of clear naming:


function processInfo(data) {
  // complex logic here
  return result;

let temp = fetchData();
let finalResult = processInfo(temp);

Explanation: This code is difficult to understand. What kind of information is being processed? What does "temp" hold?

Improved Example:

function calculateCustomerDiscount(customerData) {
  // logic to calculate discount based on customer data
  return discountAmount;

let customerInfo = getCustomerDetails();
let discount = calculateCustomerDiscount(customerInfo);

Explanation: Here, the names are clear and descriptive. We understand what the function does and what data it operates on.

Naming Conventions: A Team Effort

While these best practices provide a strong foundation, consider establishing specific naming conventions within your team or project. This ensures consistency and makes the codebase even more navigable for everyone involved. Many programming languages and communities have established conventions (e.g., PSR-1 for PHP), so look for those as a starting point.


A well-named variable or function is like a friendly face in the crowd of code. It welcomes you in, explains its purpose, and makes you feel comfortable. By adopting meaningful naming practices, you can write code that is not only functional but also a joy to read, maintain, and collaborate on. Remember, clear and descriptive names are an investment in the future readability and maintainability of your codebase, saving you and your fellow programmers time and frustration down the road. So go forth, name with purpose, and create code that sings!

Tags: software developmentclean code

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