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Looking for good naming convention for class attributes

P: n/a
For many years I have been following the convention of naming all
class attributes with a leading underscore. This enables me to
quickly identify the class attributes when I encounter them in the
source code. Even the GoF book follows this convention, although it's
true that the GoF book is not an authoritative source for coding
guidelines.

Recently a colleague remarked that using a leading underscore is a bad
programming practice that should be avoided at all costs. According
to her this has to do with the fact that the compiler naming mangling
procedure also sticks leading underscores and therefore using
underscores in the source code makes the job of following the
post-processed source code (should there ever be a need) very
difficult.

Any comments?

Regards,
Sandeep
Jul 22 '05 #1
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9 Replies


P: n/a
Sandeep Sharma wrote:
For many years I have been following the convention of naming all
class attributes with a leading underscore. This enables me to
quickly identify the class attributes when I encounter them in the
source code. Even the GoF book follows this convention, although it's
true that the GoF book is not an authoritative source for coding
guidelines.

Recently a colleague remarked that using a leading underscore is a bad
programming practice that should be avoided at all costs. According
to her this has to do with the fact that the compiler naming mangling
procedure also sticks leading underscores and therefore using
underscores in the source code makes the job of following the
post-processed source code (should there ever be a need) very
difficult.

Any comments?

Regards,
Sandeep


It's not just the (relatively obscure) issue you mention. You're not
allowed to use leading underscores; they're reserved for the
implementation, per section 17.4.3.1.2 of the standard. You see lots of
leading underscores in standard library code; using leading _ yourself
can interfere with the library, and certainly isn't portable.

Jul 22 '05 #2

P: n/a
"Jeff Schwab" wrote...
For many years I have been following the convention of
naming all class attributes with a leading underscore.
This enables me to quickly identify the class attributes
when I encounter them in the source code. Even the GoF
book follows this convention, although it's true that
the GoF book is not an authoritative source for coding
guidelines.

Recently a colleague remarked that using a leading
underscore is a bad programming practice that should be
avoided at all costs. According to her this has to do
with the fact that the compiler naming mangling procedure
also sticks leading underscores and therefore using
underscores in the source code makes the job of following
the post-processed source code (should there ever be a
need) very difficult.

Any comments?

Regards, Sandeep


As Jeff already pointed out, the leading underscore is reserved by the
implementation. Using leading underscores is not only bad practice
but also not permitted by the standard. These days many books prefer
the *trailing* underscore:

struct X
{
int someDataMember_;
};

I don't like this convention and prefer an m_ prefix (despite it's
affiliation with Microsoft):

struct Y
{
int m_someDataMember;
};
Jul 22 '05 #3

P: n/a
Derek wrote in news:bu************@ID-46268.news.uni-berlin.de:

As Jeff already pointed out, the leading underscore is reserved by the
implementation. Using leading underscores is not only bad practice
but also not permitted by the standard. These days many books prefer
the *trailing* underscore:


Using a leading underscore is leagal as long as:

A) it isn't followed by another underscore,
B) it isn't followed by an uppercase letter,
C) it doesn't declare an identifier in the global namespace.

Additionally identifiers with 2 consecutive underscores are
allways reserved (hence (A) above).

Rob.
--
http://www.victim-prime.dsl.pipex.com/
Jul 22 '05 #4

P: n/a
Rob Williscroft wrote:
Derek wrote in news:bu************@ID-46268.news.uni-berlin.de:

As Jeff already pointed out, the leading underscore is reserved by the
implementation. Using leading underscores is not only bad practice
but also not permitted by the standard. These days many books prefer
the *trailing* underscore:

Using a leading underscore is leagal as long as:

A) it isn't followed by another underscore,
B) it isn't followed by an uppercase letter,
C) it doesn't declare an identifier in the global namespace.

Additionally identifiers with 2 consecutive underscores are
allways reserved (hence (A) above).

Rob.


Excuse me, you're quite right. Leading underscores inside namespaces
(outside std) should be OK, although I personally detest them. I am
also a fan of m_name for private member data, mostly because I haven't
thought of anything better.

Jul 22 '05 #5

P: n/a
Jeff Schwab wrote:
Rob Williscroft wrote: [discussion of standard redacted]
I am
also a fan of m_name for private member data, mostly because I haven't
thought of anything better.


Yep. That's the only good Hungarianism I've found.

Jul 22 '05 #6

P: n/a

"Rob Williscroft" <rt*@freenet.REMOVE.co.uk> wrote in message
news:Xn**********************************@195.129. 110.130...
Derek wrote in news:bu************@ID-46268.news.uni-berlin.de:

As Jeff already pointed out, the leading underscore is reserved by the
implementation. Using leading underscores is not only bad practice
but also not permitted by the standard. These days many books prefer
the *trailing* underscore:
Using a leading underscore is leagal as long as:

A) it isn't followed by another underscore,
B) it isn't followed by an uppercase letter,
C) it doesn't declare an identifier in the global namespace.


This true but why do you want to have to remember these cases?
It's simpler just to say never to leading underscores.
Additionally identifiers with 2 consecutive underscores are
allways reserved (hence (A) above).

Rob.
--
http://www.victim-prime.dsl.pipex.com/

Jul 22 '05 #7

P: n/a
sa*********@yahoo.com (Sandeep Sharma) wrote:
For many years I have been following the convention of naming all
class attributes with a leading underscore. This enables me to
quickly identify the class attributes when I encounter them in the
source code. Even the GoF book follows this convention, although it's
true that the GoF book is not an authoritative source for coding
guidelines.

Recently a colleague remarked that using a leading underscore is a bad
programming practice that should be avoided at all costs. According
to her this has to do with the fact that the compiler naming mangling
procedure also sticks leading underscores and therefore using
underscores in the source code makes the job of following the
post-processed source code (should there ever be a need) very
difficult.


The point here is to try to convey a certian piece of information, that
the variable in question is a member-variable. I see no reason to use
two characters to convey that information when one will do, so using
underscore + lower case (_variable) or 'm' + upper case (mVariable) both
seem like good options, but combining them into 'm_' seems like a waste.

Having a trailing underscore, (or any sort of trailing character) is
hard to parse for me. Maybe I'm too old school.

But why do we have to convey this particular piece of information? If
the variable is local, then it will be defined right there in the
function and will be obvious. If the variable is global... Well globals
are quite frowned upon aren't they? Maybe it's the global that needs
some special sort of code. Something to think about.

How about this, quite off the wall but interesting idea. Variables that
have a scope smaller than a function should be 1-2 characters long,
varibles with function scope should be 3-4 characters long, variables
with class scope should be 5-6 characters long, variables with file
scope 7-8 chars and variables with multiple file scope should be greater
than 8 characters. Just an idea...
Jul 22 '05 #8

P: n/a

"Daniel T." <po********@eathlink.net> wrote in message
news:po******************************@news06.east. earthlink.net...
sa*********@yahoo.com (Sandeep Sharma) wrote:
For many years I have been following the convention of naming all
class attributes with a leading underscore. This enables me to
quickly identify the class attributes when I encounter them in the
source code. Even the GoF book follows this convention, although it's
true that the GoF book is not an authoritative source for coding
guidelines.

Recently a colleague remarked that using a leading underscore is a bad
programming practice that should be avoided at all costs. According
to her this has to do with the fact that the compiler naming mangling
procedure also sticks leading underscores and therefore using
underscores in the source code makes the job of following the
post-processed source code (should there ever be a need) very
difficult.
The point here is to try to convey a certian piece of information, that
the variable in question is a member-variable. I see no reason to use
two characters to convey that information when one will do, so using
underscore + lower case (_variable) or 'm' + upper case (mVariable) both
seem like good options, but combining them into 'm_' seems like a waste.

Having a trailing underscore, (or any sort of trailing character) is
hard to parse for me. Maybe I'm too old school.

But why do we have to convey this particular piece of information? If
the variable is local, then it will be defined right there in the
function and will be obvious. If the variable is global... Well globals
are quite frowned upon aren't they? Maybe it's the global that needs
some special sort of code. Something to think about.


What about file static/unnamed namespace?
I like to use s_ for these and I use them a lot.

I am undecided about class static - where possible I prefer to use file
static instead but where
not I use a prefix - I just can't decide whether to use m_,s_ or something
else.

How about this, quite off the wall but interesting idea. Variables that
have a scope smaller than a function should be 1-2 characters long,
varibles with function scope should be 3-4 characters long, variables
with class scope should be 5-6 characters long, variables with file
scope 7-8 chars and variables with multiple file scope should be greater
than 8 characters. Just an idea...


variable names should always describe what they are.
Jul 22 '05 #9

P: n/a
Daniel T. wrote:

The point here is to try to convey a certian piece of information, that
the variable in question is a member-variable. I see no reason to use
two characters to convey that information when one will do, so using
underscore + lower case (_variable) or 'm' + upper case (mVariable) both
seem like good options, but combining them into 'm_' seems like a waste.


Why is there a shortage of Ms?

We use m_ for members and s_ for statics. However, a_ for
arguments and l_ for locals are IMO warts too far.

Jul 22 '05 #10

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