Avoid abbreviating variables

Do you know what’s super annoying when reading someone else code? Abbreviated variable or function names. Until late 2017 I hadn’t done any coding in years so I was rusty as all hell, and truthfully I still am. One thing I noticed when looking at other peoples code was how it made it far slower to read and learn from when all the variables and function names are abbreviated. Yes, it might be faster for the person writing the code at the time, but anyone else exposed to that code carries a bit more mental load to decipher it. Take this simple code for example:

var prsn = {
  n: "Emma",
  a: 7,
  loc: "Palmerston North",
  frnds: [ "Ella", "Megan", "Tom" ]

prsn.prntFrnds = function() {
  this.frnds.forEach( function( frnd ) {
    console.log( frnd );
} );

Now compare this to the same function without abbreviated variables and function names:

var person = {
  name: "Emma",
  age: 7,
  location: "Palmerston North",
  friends: [ "Ella", "Megan", "Tom" ]

person.printFriends = function() {
  this.friends.forEach( function( friend ) {
    console.log( friend );
} );

Both examples are technically the same. However, it’s far easier to understand the second example at a glance, especially for a beginner who’s already looking at something relatively unfamiliar.

So the next time you catch yourself writing a block of code just remember to take a second for the next person reading it. Your code should be as descriptive as possible, so even a junior developer understand what it’s for at a glance… or someone who hasn’t seen the code in a long while… chances are that someone will be you at some point.