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Discussion on: Do you have a process for naming things?

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Jonathan Kuhl

I have a good example for this. I wrote a minesweeper game. I wrote a function called clearBlanks that does what it says, it clears blank squares in a contiguous region when you click on a blank. There's a function defined inside clearBlanks that I had named clear that was recursive. What it does is create an array of the squares adjacent to the ones passed in that need to be cleared.

It does not actually clear them. They get cleared after the recursion is complete and the array is returned back to the clearBlanks function that actually does clear them. So clear was the wrong name for it.

I renamed the recursive function getAdjacentSquares because that's what it actually does, it gets the squares adjacent to the ones passed in. It should probably be further renamed getAdjacentBlankSquares or getSquaresToBeCleared But then we start going down a rabbit hole of finding the perfect name.

The problem in naming is that often as we develop, what our functions do changes from what we initially intended. In this particular example, I rewrote this function (and crashed Chrome with stack overflow errors) several dozen times getting it to work and by the time it did work, getAdjacentSquares had nothing to do with actually clearing the squares.