CppCon 2019: Naming is Hard: Let's Do Better--Kate Gregory

This year, CppCon 2020 is going virtual. The dates are still the same – September 14-18 – and we are aiming for the CppCon live event to have pretty much everything you’re familiar with at CppCon except moved online: multiple tracks including “back to basics” and a new “embedded” track; live speaker Q&A; live talk time zones friendly to Americas and EMEA (and we’re going to try to arrange around-the-clock recorded repeats in all time zones, where speakers who are available can be available for live Q&A in their repeated talks too, and we’ll do that if it’s possible – but we’re still working on it!); virtual tables where you can interact face-to-face online with other attendees just like at the physical event; virtual exhibitor spaces where you can meet the folks on your favorite product’s teams to ask them question face-to-face; pre- and post-conference classes; and even the CppCon house band playing live before every plenary session. All talk recordings will be freely available as usual on YouTube a month or two after the event, but everything else above will be available only live during CppCon week.

To whet your appetite for this year’s conference, here’s another of the top-rated talks from last year. Enjoy – and register today for CppCon 2020 – all the spirit and flavor of CppCon, this year all virtual and online!

Naming is Hard: Let's Do Better

by Kate Gregory

Summary of the talk:

C++ developers are famously bad at naming: our idioms, guidelines, and lore are rich in examples of terrible names. For example, consider RAII, which stands for scope bound resource management, or west const which perhaps should be const west, or all the samples that feature an object called x which is an instance of a class called X, and so on.

The good news is that naming well is a learned skill, and you can learn it, and start to name better right away. In this talk, I'll tell you why names matter, what benefits a good name can bring, and how to be better at naming. I'll discuss some categories of names and some common decisions within those categories. I'm not going to give you a set of rules to follow: this is about thinking and considering the meaning of the things you are naming. I will give you some questions to ask yourself and some structure that I use to help me to help those who read what I write.

I'll also address renaming things in existing (legacy) code, why and when to do it, and why getting it right the first time may not even be a realistic goal. You should be a lot more confident naming things after we spend this time together.

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