Hungarian notation, what do I think?

Hungarian notation, what do I think?

A girl at work asked me yesterday about whether or not encoding a variable’s type into its name — aka Hungarian Notation — was a good idea (she’s a designer who secretly wants to be a developer). I thought I might have written an article here before about it, but it seems I haven’t, so here goes.

Encoding the purpose of a variable into its name is a good idea. For example:

customerFormpasswordHashfirstNamesubmitButtonbodyHtmlerrorMessagecountries (plural = a collection of some sort)

This is just common-sense good naming.

On the other hand, I think encoding the variable’s runtime type into its name is brain-damaged — it usually doesn’t help much and just decreases code clarity. For example:


I don’t think prefixes like this add any real value at all, because you could probably guess what type they are from their names and context in which they appear. Therefore they are simply clutter.

If you need them, however, then that suggests to me you have either 1) poor variable names that fail to properly explain their purpose or 2) your methods are too long and need to be refactored. Either way, fudging variable names so you can remember what type they were declared as 300 lines earlier is not the right answer, and will probably make your code even less readable.

The difference between these two naming styles is officially known as apps vs systems Hungarian notation. Joel Spolsky has a good article on the difference and how one became perverted into the other.