Renaming Variables, Fields and Types

Cryptic names are a common code smell. Renaming them on the spot is often a good strategy in this situation. This learning hour is about renaming.

Learning Goals

Session Outline

Connect - Fill-in-the-blanks “Naming”

Prepare a fill in the blanks exercise with at least 10 missing words in several paragraphs about readability and naming. (Chat-GPT works ok for this.) This is a self-correcting exercise. Each participant works on his/her own.

The exact exercise for this learning hour is:

Developers should prioritize writing their code for ___________ first, considering human readability over machine comprehension. For code clarity, ___________ should be used to effectively convey the purpose of the associated code. Incorporate ___________ to assign descriptive names to temporary values or expressions within your code. More names mane it easier to understand the code’s ___________.

Avoid using ___________ in identifiers, except for cases like ID and perhaps URL. Choose ___________ for variables and functions, as they aid in discussions and recall. The practice of ___________ notation negatively impacts code readability due to longer and less intuitive names. It further complicates code maintenance when types ___________ or change.

Ensure that variable names correspond closely with the ___________ they represent, emphasizing ___________. Function names must reflect the ___________ they execute, emphasizing ___________.

With the used words (in that order):

people, expressive names, explanatory variables, intent, abbreviations, pronounceable names, Hungarian, evolve, entities, nouns, action, verbs

Concept - Discuss importance of domain specific names

Lecture using slides or frames: Recap the warmup’s important things about naming. Only show a summary. Then state the importance of names being from the problem domain. This is one of the most important things about naming.

If necessary do a short demo of rename in the chosen refactoring tool and show what works and what does not work.

Concrete Practice - Rename the Finder

The Finder Refactoring Kata is small but terrible code. No one can understand what it does. At least there are unit tests to prove the code is working. You job is to refactor the code and make it readable, while keeping the code in working order (pass all tests). (Quoted from its readme)

People work in pairs. Make sure people start working on the Finder class, which is the entry point.

Facilitation Hints (spoiler)

Do not read ahead before you have tried the kata yourself. Here are some spoiler hints to help people if they are stuck.

Conclusions - What did you learn?

Ask “What did you learn about Rename?” and then, when the group size allows, do a round-robin style answering the question. Ask participants to list 3 things each. If the group is larger, let them talk to each other.