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Thursday, 18 December 2008 at

Notes from a fry-up lunch - A System of Names

Today we were discussing the wiki entry by Ward Cunningham on a System of Names

These were the thoughts that we had:

* Sometimes you need a name that doesn't mean anything - like MacGuffin

* The best names are the ones that you've arrived at with others that you're working with.

* Sometimes getting the name right completely changes the way that you think about things e.g. Changing the idea of a file being encrypted to a file being sealed

* Sometimes there's a terrible wrench every time you use a "properly" named object because what the object is/how it's used has changed since you named it. You need to be able to carry on changing the name of things throughout the process. In some languages, this is very difficult, if not impossible (Rails was mentioned as one).

* Ward Cunningham's suggestion that you use a thesaurus isn't a very good one - it betrays a misunderstanding of what language is, how it works. What are you going to use instead of "Master"? "Dominator"? "Dominatrix"?

* The canonical "misunderstanding" cases like "add" and "plus" can't be solved by just getting the right name. They can only really be solved by having some kind of convention of usage. It's not a list of names - it's a system.

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