Python Names

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Revision as of 07:55, 20 October 2019 by Russ hensel (Talk | contribs)

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In programming a constant task is to make up names for things you wish the program to work with. Numbers, names.... functions, objects... classes all need names. There are some good practices in making up name and not so good ones. Python even has an official document PEP 8, I think it is called, that discusses this. I have not found the document all that useful. I will give you my version here.


When to use Good Names

The right answer is all the time, but in practice people go to more effort when they expect the program to be around for a longer time. Also in practice programs tend to be around longer than you expect. Try to develop good habits, it will pay off.

Short vs Long

Really short names are rarely good they just have too little meaning. You should remember that a program is more often read than written ( only once not counting fix up ) so make it easy to read. That said names can get too long. Over 12 characters?: take a second look. Abriviations are fine but should be consistent. I use hi and lo for high and low, max and min for maximinum and minimum. But n for number? Too short, also may hide an important function n().

Short vs long also applies to how long the variable will exist, or be in scope. If the scope of a variable is short, it is easier to live with a short, and less clear, name.

Avoid Reserved Words

Reserved words are woods that are reserved for the language that you are not suppose to use, words like if, else, while, def. Python will actually throw an syntax error in most cases if you use them.

There are even more words that you should treat as reserved words, that is do not use them. These words are ones that other parts of the language may already be using. Suppose that you are doing some math. Then you might suspect that words like sin, sine, min, max, random might already be in use. Try to be a bit careful. In some contexts both n and i are already defined ( i for the imaginary unit, n for a function that forces numerical evaluation )

For words that are reserved, are already in use, or look as if they might be, I often prefix them with "a_". So if I have a reference to a thread I will call it something like "a_thread".

Break into Words

If you use temp for temperature ( and beware some people use it for temporary ) then the high and low temperatures would be hi_temp and low_temp. Another style is HiTemp and LoTemp. The second is called camel case.

Most Python is written using underscores for variable name and functions, camel case is used for class names. Again be consistent.

Verbs and Nouns

Most functions ( methods... ) do something. So make them verbs or verb like. Classes are typically more like things, so make them noun like.

      self.monitor_state  = 1                # noun
      plug_adapter        = PlugAdapter()    # noun
      def display_help():                    # verb like

Class Instance Variables

I try to name variables that refer to classes with names that reflect the class. Since the class is in camel case and the instance variable uses underscores this is often simple

      self.gui       = Gui()
      plug_adapter   = PlugAdapter()





Too Good

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