in Development

The Importance of Being Earnest

I was commenting with friends some mistakes I found while reviewing the book Pro LINQ Object Relational Mapping with C# 2008. Despite the error's importance, it would be better that they do not appear in the book, moreover when the book must pass a technical review before be printed. i.e.

There is a paragraph that says “…one of the new features in .NET 3.0: the var keyword….” This is incorrect, the var keyword (in the context is used) does not appear in .NET 3.0, but in .NET 3.5 with the implicitly typed local variables and has a different syntax in other languages like VB. Therefore a more accurate affirmation could be “…one of the new features in C# 3.0: the var keyword….”.

Or “…the CLR is doing the heavy lifting for you by translating your queries into method calls…”. This is also incorrect since the Common Language Runtime (CLR) does not translate the LINQ queries into methods; instead each language compiler is in charge of that conversion, something that you can easily see by checking the IL and metadata generated by the compiler. This error is a bit more serious, because the reader can think it is better to use the method syntax instead of the LINQ syntax to avoid the translation performance cost during runtime, when it is not the case.

Anyway, the controversy came out when I said the author talks in the Entity Framework chapter about "Single-Table Mapping", regardless if the term is correct or not, the expression used in EF is a different one: Table-per-hierarchy. I think the author should have utilized the same term as in EF documentation. Names are very important to recognize the concepts behind them and the best is that within a context everybody uses the same, in this case the context was Entity Framework.

In my business area, credit card processing, we are sick to see how acquiring banks and payment processors use the same term for different things. i.e. Void, Reversal, Cancellation can be exactly the same operation or a totally different one depending on the company using the term, which can cause lot of confusion until you do not agree a nomenclature. Tables, views, methods, variables, classes … none of them are an exception when you need to decide a good term. But IT world is not the only place where having the right name can help you to success, just remind the Oscar Wilde's play "The Importance of Being Earnest".  

Therefore, next time you need to select a name try to invest time enough deciding a good one that is descriptive enough, it would be better than having to waste it later on checking the documentation to remember what the term intended to mean.