Naming things is hard, but it doesn't have to be

Barry Hennessy

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things

Phil Karlton circa. 19961

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: X and naming things

Virtually every software engineer since 1996234

Naming things is hard

Everything in software needs a name: variables, functions, packages, services, tables, columns, files, documents. Even the registers buried in your computers processer got named way back when5.

At some point, even the best of us struggle to find a concise, fitting term. This isn’t the hardest thing we do either, but if we don’t pay attention it can trip up and slow down entire teams, now and in the future.

It doesn’t have to be

I’ve got an extremely powerful tool-tip for you that I’m surprised I don’t see used more often:

A thesaurus.

Specifically, online ones, like thesaurus.com/browse/synonym.

So when you find yourself staring at an ill-fitting alias, chuck it into the search bar. And drill down to find the one most befitting your abstraction.

Just don’t overdo it like I just did or you’ll come across pompous.