Lesson 44 - Naming Conventions for Identifiers

Tutorial Series: Free C# Fundamentals via ASP.NET Web Apps

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This lesson discusses the topic of naming conventions for common coding elements, such as, public classes, methods and properties, private fields, locally scoped variables, and so on. There are naming conventions that are established by the developer community at large. Then there are project-specific conventions agreed upon within the organization that you work in. Naming conventions are put in place to make it easier to discern meaning, and intent, in code.

Step 1: Understanding PascalCasing vs camelCasing

Capitalization schemes are a common convention used to made code easier to read and follow. Often times, capitalization helps to distinguish the item that is being named. The two main capitalization schemes are “PascalCasing,” where each word in the identifier is capitalized, and “camelCasing” where the first word is lower case followed by capitalization for subsequent words:


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In general, everything that is public will be PascalCase while everything that is private will be camelCase. Take, for instance, this block of code:


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  1. The public class name Hero is PascalCase.

  2. The public property Name is PascalCase.

  3. The private backing field _name is camelCase

  4. Thee private heroHelperMethod() method is camelCase.

  5. The public AttackPattern() method is PascalCase.


Step 2: Using Underscores for Backing Fields

Notice how the backing field is prefixed with a single underscore. This is a general convention programmers adhere to when referring to backing fields. One of the reasons for doing so is you can quickly see, via Intellisense, that the member is a field.

Notice, too, the use of an underscore inside the constructor method for the Hero class. This is a naming convention used by programmers to help distinguish the private variables inside a class constructor from the input parameters displayed to the user. When creating methods, you want IntelliSense to display something easily understandable when showing what input parameters the method takes in. In this case, the Hero takes in a name and hitPoints:


underscoreCasing


What this does is:

  1. Creates the input parameter (name)
  2. Creates a local variable (_name)
  3. Sets _name equal to the input parameter "name"

You, the programmer, can then know which variable you are modifying, all while displaying easily understandable instructions to the end user:


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Variables that are locally scoped – that is to say, initially declared within the body of a method – are generally supposed to be camelCase. In this example, the hero, battle and damageInflictedOnMonster objects/variables are only “alive” within the context of this local Page_Load() method, so they are set to lower-case/camelCase accordingly:


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Step 3: Where Server Control Property References Come From

You may have noticed that we have been referencing Server Controls in the Default class through class-level instances of these Controls. However, you may be wondering where exactly that instance was defined. As you can see the Default class is declared as a partial class which means that this is only a partial representation of it and another part of it is somewhere else. If you were to right-click on a Server Control via its instance, such as the resultLabel, you can select “Go To Definition” to see the other part of this class definition:


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You can see that the instance is indeed a field within the broader class definition for the Default class. You will also see that it has a protected accessibility modifier, meaning it is private to this class and inheriting classes, which is why camelCase is used.as Also, on the topic of Server Controls, notice how we have been including the Control name within the identifier to help communicate what it is an instance of. This is similar to a practice called “Hungarian Notation”:


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Step 4: Older Conventions Like ‘Hungarian Notation’

While not common within the .NET development community, you may see some code that subscribes to the “Hungarian Notation” naming convention. The hallmark of this convention is the inclusion of the variables type – usually trimmed down to three characters or less – prefixed directly to the variable name. Here is the meaning behind the Hungarian Notation used below:

  • The ‘i’ in iCOunter refers to type int.

  • The ‘str’ in strFirstName refers to type string.

  • The ‘btn’ in btnOk refers to the Server Control type.

  • The ‘C’ in CPerson refers to this as being a class.


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Tip:

Hungarian Notation may seem like a good idea, but is generally considered to be an outdated way of representing coding elements. This convention lost favor for a host of reasons including the fact that the intended meaning tends to be forgotten in a broader system and is difficult to remember and enforce.

When using a development environment as sophisticated as Visual Studio, it becomes quite redundant to include type and scope information directly within the variable name itself. You have a variety of tools that will volunteer this information to you with as little as moving the cursor over the variable name:


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Related Articles in this Tutorial:

Lesson 1 - Series Introduction

Lesson 2 - Installing Visual Studio 2015

Lesson 3 - Building Your First Web App

Lesson 4 - Understanding What You Just Did

Lesson 5 - Working with Projects in Visual Studio

Lesson 6 - Simple Web Page Formatting in Visual Studio

Challenge 1

Solution 1

Lesson 7 - Variables and Data Types

Lesson 8 - Data Type Conversion

Lesson 9 - Arithmetic Operators

Lesson 10 - C# Syntax Basics

Challenge 2 - ChallengeSimpleCalculator

Solution - ChallengeSimpleCalculator

Lesson 11 - Conditional If Statements

Lesson 12 - The Conditional Ternary Operator

Challenge 3 - ChallengeConditionalRadioButton

Solution - Challenge Conditional RadioButton

Lesson 13 - Comparison and Logical Operators

Lesson 13 Challenge - First Papa Bob's Website

Solution - Challenge First Papa Bob's Website

Lesson 14 - Working with Dates and Times

Lesson 15 - Working With Spans of Time

Lesson 16 - Working with the Calendar Server Control

Challenge 4 - Challenge Days Between Dates

Solution - Challenge Days Between Dates

Lesson 17 - Page_Load and Page.IsPostBack

Lesson 18 - Setting a Break Point and Debugging

Lesson 19 - Formatting Strings

Challenge 5 - Challenge Epic Spies Assignment

Solution - Challenge Epic Spies Assignment

Lesson 20 - Maintaining State with ViewState

Lesson 21 - Storing Values in Arrays

Lesson 22 - Understanding Multidimensional Arrays

Lesson 23 - Changing the Length of an Array

Challenge 6 - Challenge Epic Spies Asset Tracker

Solution - Challenge Epic Spies Asset Tracker

Lesson 24 - Understanding Variable Scope

Lesson 25 - Code Blocks and Nested If Statements

Lesson 26 - Looping with the For Iteration Statement

Challenge 7 - Challenge For Xmen Battle Count

Solution - Challenge For Xmen Battle Count

Lesson 27 - Looping with the while() & do...while() Iteration Statements

Lesson 28 - Creating and Calling Simple Helper Methods

Lesson 29 - Creating Methods with Input Parameters

Lesson 30 - Returning Values from Methods

Lesson 31 - Creating Overloaded Methods

Lesson 32 - Creating Optional Parameters

Lesson 33 - Creating Names Parameters

Lesson 34 - Creating Methods with Output Parameters

Challenge 8 - Challenge Postal Calculator Helper Methods

Solution - Challenge Postal Calculator Helper Methods

Mega Challenge Casino

Solution - Mega Challenge Casino

Lesson 35 - Manipulating Strings

Challenge 9 - Phun With Strings

Solution - Challenge Phun With Strings

Lesson 36 - Introduction to Classes and Objects

Challenge - Hero Monster Classes Part 1

Solution - Hero Monster Classes Part 1

Challenge - Hero Monster Classes Part 2

Solution - Challenge Hero Monster Classes Part 2

Lesson 37 - Creating Class Files Creating Cohesive Classes and Code Navigation

Lesson 38 - Understanding Object References and Object Lifetime

Lesson 39 - Understanding the .NET Framework and Compilation

Lesson 40 - Namespaces and Using Directives

Lesson 41 - Creating Class Libraries and Adding References to Assemblies

Lesson 42 - Accessibility Modifiers, Fields and Properties

Lesson 43 - Creating Constructor Methods

Lesson 44 - Naming Conventions for Identifiers

Lesson 45 - Static vs Instance Members

Challenge 10 - Challenge Simple Darts

Solution - Challenge Simple Darts

Lesson 46 - Working with the List Collection

Lesson 47 - Object Initializers

Lesson 48 - Collection Initializers

Lesson 49 - Working with the Dictionary Collection

Lesson 50 - Looping with the foreach Iteration Statement

Lesson 51 - Implicitly-Typed Variables with the var Keyword

Challenge 11 - Challenge Student Courses

Solution - Challenge Student Courses

Mega Challenge War

Solution - Mega Challenge War

Lesson 52 - Creating GUIDs

Lesson 53 - Working with Enumerations

Lesson 54 - Understanding the switch() Statement

Lesson 55 - First Pass at the Separation of Concerns Principle

Lesson 56 - Understanding Exception Handling

Lesson 57 - Understanding Global Exception Handling

Lesson 58 - Understanding Custom Exceptions

Lesson 59 - Creating a Database in Visual Studio

Lesson 60 - Creating an Entity Data Model

Lesson 61 - Displaying the DbSet Result in an ASP.NET GridView

Lesson 62 - Implementing a Button Command in a GridView

Lesson 63 - Using a Tools-Centric Approach to Building a Database Application

Lesson 64 - Using a Maintenance-Driven Approach to Building a Database Application

Lesson 65 - Creating a New Instance of an Entity and Persisting it to the Database

Lesson 66 - Package Management with NuGet

Lesson 67 - NuGet No-Commit Workflow

Lesson 68 - Introduction the Twitter Bootstrap CSS Framework

Lesson 69 - Mapping Enum Types to Entity Properties in the Framework Designer

Lesson 70 - Deploying the App to Microsoft Azure Web Services Web Apps

Papa Bob's Mega Challenge

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 1 - Setting up the Solution

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 2 - Adding an Order to the Database

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 3 - Passing an Order from the Presentation Layer

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 4 - Creating the Order Form

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 5 - Adding Enums

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 6 - Creating an Order with Validation

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 7 - Calculating the Order Price

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 8 - Displaying the Price to the User

Papa Bob's Mega Solution Part 9 - Creating the Order Management Page


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