Wednesday 9 June 2010

Language in software development

While reading the Martin Fowler Refactoring book on the tube yesterday, I got to thinking about how programming languages are similar to general written and spoken languages.

Here are a couple of examples:
  • Terms that mean the same thing, but are called different names (synonyms).
  • Terms that share the same name, but mean different things (homonyms).
Much like written English, it requires a certain amount of context to determine the meaning of a term within a block of code.

Having a "Ubiquitous Language" within a system, as detailed in Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans, helps to ensure that developers use unambiguous terminology that even the end users of the system should be able to comprehend.

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