The Case for Camels


When it comes to efficiently conveying information we often use shortened forms of words or phrases. Stay with me. Sometimes we need to name an object without using spaces. As an example, I might create a VM that is my “production web server number 3 in my Auckland datacentre”. That name is rather long. Since VMs are often stored in folders with the same name there could be a nasty folder name. Naming that VM in a shorter form would make a lot of sense, maybe prodweb03akl. Now I have a short folder name with no white space. So far I’m sure you are all on the same page and wondering what my point is.

It’s time for a digression to the trigger for this post. Last week, I was at VMworld USA in San Francisco. One evening I was in a whiskey bar talking to Shawn Cannon. I know Shawn from seeing his twitter handle @rolltidega. I had always wondered about his twitter handle as it made no sense to me. It turns out Shawn is a fan of the University of Alabama athletics and is living in Georgia. The chant for Alabama’s Crimson Tide athletics team is “roll tide”. So Shawn’s twitter handle is actually “roll tide Georgia”. To make it readable, I would write it as @RollTideGA. At least for me this makes the words stand out far more than @rolltidega. This is also why my twitter handle is @DemitasseNZ. It conveys my company name and location. This use of capitals at the start of each word is called CamelCase since there are humps. It is widely used by software developers for naming functions and variables. Anywhere that you run together multiple words you can use CamelCase. Just capitalize the first letter of each word. This would make my web server ProdWeb03AKL, again a little more readable than the all lower case form. It is amazing that a small change can make a cryptic name much easier to understand.

Some CamelCase purists will also tell you not to capitalize the first letter of the first word. This is Microsoft’s preferred style for writing code. Personally I do capitalize because I’m usually naming an object (or person when it’s a Twitter handle). Whatever form you use CamelCase is a great way to improve understandability of run together words.

© 2015, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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2 Responses to The Case for Camels

  1. Paul Braren says:

    You’d link I’d look down at your badge’s Twitter handle and see NZ, when chatting with you a few days ago at The Reckoning 2015. That might have spared me the embarrassment of asking “where do you live?” Then again, so would paying better attention to your presentation introduction. Oops!

    I’m that sleep-deprived guy who then talked about mics with you. Sure wish we talked about AutoLab too, oh well.

    Hope our paths cross again someday…
    –Paul Braren, home lab enthusiast/blogger, @paulbraren or @PaulBraren 😉

  2. Alastair says:

    I also missed talking to you when you did a TechTalk on home lab tips at VMworld!
    No doubt we will meet again.

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