As part of our larger project on API Usability, we have studied the issue of
naming of methods, classes and parameters. It can definitely have a
At one point, we tried to design an experiment to test the hypothesis that
there was a "sweet spot" in terms of the length of the name -- not too short
and not too long, but we never were able to separate the length from the
semantics of the words. However, we did report on names that were clearly
too long in the SAP eSOA API.
And we identified naming as a key aspect of the design that an API designer
must take into account in our taxonomy of design issues.
Another study showed that people often navigate an API by guessing names
first, and you should reserve the most general name (like "File") for
classes that people actually use, instead of the current common practice of
using the general name for an interface or top-level class that is never
actually used, except as a superclass for what people actually are supposed
These results are not collected in one place, however, and are distributed
throughout our papers. References for the papers that report on all of these
From: Raoul Duke [mailto:rao...@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 6:09 PM
Subject: Re: studies of naming?
> Check out my paper from PPIG 2006:
Thanks, I just skimmed it. I probably haven't explained well at all
what I had in mind. I searched for "bug" and "error" with no hits. It
so far appears to me to be a review of how naming is used; doesn't get
into the resulting impacts of those uses and choices.
Now that I think about it, I guess the sort of thing I have in mind
is: has anybody somehow managed to study a bug database and the fixes
and figure out %ages of what caused the bugs, and if it is possible to
figure out that naming was a problem, how much was due to problems
with naming? I guess it would be quite hard to tease it out.
Presumably naming hasn't caused Arianne to crash or anything like that
(http://www.sans.org/top25-software-errors/) so I'm really probably
only ranting about my own little pet peeve. Apologies.
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