Lolcat-inspired naming conventions
We all know that consistent, meaningful names are helpful in planning database architecture, but I wanted to bring to your attention this stunning, simple example of good naming convention at work:
Note the two key elements, helpful in developing nearly any taxonomy:
Highly usable mixed case
The mixed case of “Cheetah” makes text more readable. (The bucket was clearly labeled by someone other than the all-caps writer of the “ALL BUCKETS…” command.) No doubt a more detailed name would be in CamelCase, e.g., FelineCheetahKitten. (Any other ex-Pascal programmers out there? You’ll recognize this as Pascal style.) Naturally, naming conventions can vary from CamelCase and still be highly useful—much depends on the needs of the team and application being used.
Please note: if you’re naming web pages or directories, you might want to avoid mixed or CamelCase, as most users type URLs in lower case, and browsers are case sensitive below the domain level.
The bucket identifies what’s in it simply and clearly, making it easier for others working in this architecture to know what to expect. No one will look for walruses in this bucket!
The goal in choosing a naming convention for your tables, columns, classes, directories, etc., is to make it clear what’s happening. It may be necessary to:
- Implement a controlled vocabulary, to avoid misunderstandings.
- Establish reserved words, to avoid confusion. For example, Active Directory reserves terms such as Users, World, Terminal Server, and Null.
- Disallow specific characters. At my previous employer, HBX Analytics used to become confused by the pipe ( | ) character, so we stopped using it to separate browser title sections at an old workplace.
Whatever you’re working on, it’s good practice to establish a basic naming convention at the outset, readily understandable by current and new team members.