Use Pronounceable Names

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Humans are good at words. A significant part of our brains is dedicated to the concept of words. And words are, by definition, pronounceable. It would be a shame not to take advantage of that huge portion of our brains that has evolved to deal with spoken language. So make your names pronounceable.

If you can’t pronounce it, you can’t discuss it without sounding like an idiot. “Well, over here on the bee cee arr three cee enn tee we have a pee ess zee kyew int, see?” This matters because programming is a social activity.

A company I know has genymdhms (generation date, year, month, day, hour, minute, and second) so they walked around saying “gen why emm dee aich emm ess”. I have an annoying habit of pronouncing everything as written, so I started saying “gen-yah-muddahims.” It later was being called this by a host of designers and analysts, and we still sounded silly. But we were in on the joke, so it was fun. Fun or not, we were tolerating poor naming. New developers had to have the variables explained to them, and then they spoke about it in silly made-up words instead of using proper English terms. Compare:

class DtaRcrd102 {
    private Date genymdhms;
    private Date modymdhms;
    private final String pszqint = "102";
    /* ... */


class Customer {
    private Date generationTimestamp;
    private Date modificationTimestamp;;
    private final String recordId = "102";
    /* ... */

Intelligent conversation is now possible: “Hey, Mikey, take a look at this record! The generation timestamp is set to tomorrow’s date! How can that be?”