Some roses are red…(1)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet: Act 2 Scene 2

Names are labels we give to things to provide mental holding places for what a thing is; I am Michael, author of this blog and you, dear folks, are my readers.(2) Humans are flexible and we can assign different names to the same thing and still know it is a rose. Computer programs however….

Naming conventions

Many moons ago I wrote a post on naming conventions; (3) this is the first stage in the software “name game.” For software names have to be descriptive (with naming conventions) and unique.

Where things go wrong: Scope

Error, stop, fault, or startup: If you look into almost any set of code you will find these common variable names. If the variables are scoped to just the given module, things are okay, but often things “leak out.”

If you look at the interface variables, e.g. the bus (structures in C), enumerations, and all global data, you will see that enumerations, given the “state” nature, commonly reuse the same names.

ICD and Data Dictionaries

First, a note on the image. Since this is a blog on Names, the use of acronyms is especially important. When I write “ICD” I am thinking of Interface Control Documents; but it can also mean “Implantable Cardiovascular Device.” But enough side bars…

Our goal to have unique names (at the project scope) aided by two things; ICD and Data Dictionaries. The object here is to augment these base tools with integrity checking tools to validate full systems.

  • Tag the scope of data in the data dictionary: Enable scope detection for the data in the system.
  • Enforce naming rules: For both root and sub-data names.


  1. It has always bothered me that the poem goes “Roses are red, violets are blue“; properly speaking violets are by their very name the color violet.
  2. At some point in the future your role will change and you will have another name.
  3. The image to the right is exactly what a naming convention looks like; everyone comes together and picks names.

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