I am reading Clean Code by Uncle Bob. Because I am not a native-English speaker, I couldn't understand following statement:

Classes and objects should have noun or noun phrase names like Customer, WikiPage, Account, and AddressParser. Avoid words like Manager, Processor, Data, or Info in the name of a class. A class name should not be a verb.

As I know, none of the Manager, Processor, Data, and Info is a verb, isn't it? What is the actual point he want to emphasize?

  • maybe Uncle Bob is adopting RESTful thinking in extolling the virtues of resource-as-objects. – rwong May 9 '13 at 19:35

The three points are separate:

  • Class names should be nouns or noun phrases. This means that the name of the class should be something that would be the subject of a verb. In the case of object-oriented design, methods would be the verbs that take place on the thing that the class is a representation of.

  • Some words should be avoided. Manager indicates a possible god class. Info and Data may indicate a dummy data container. Words like this may indicate poor modeling of the problem space.

  • Verbs should never be class names. See the first point - classes model things, methods model actions.

  • 1
    Words like this may indicate poor modeling of the problem space. - Well, one would think, either the problem space is modelled poorly or not, independent of the names choosen. A good name doesn't help a poor design; and a good design is only marginally hurt by a poor name. – Ingo May 9 '13 at 22:15
  • And you could take this a step lower when considering how you actually build your class and how it interacts with the outside world - the class's properties would generally be nouns, while the class's methods would generally be verbs – PeteH May 10 '13 at 19:59
  • If your project has a class that you would consider calling "Manager" or "Info" or "Data" then it likely has a dozen such classes, which means you wouldn't use these names. You would have a ThisManager and ThatManager and AnotherManger and so on. – gnasher729 Aug 15 '15 at 22:06
  • He says verbs should never be in class names, but I was just rereading Adding Meaningful Context, and in his example on page 29, he names a class GuessStatisticMessage. Now I am confused on the rule, because I interpret his usage of Guess as a verb, as opposed to a noun. dictionary.com/browse/guess?s=t – Devin Gleason Lambert May 4 '17 at 20:28
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    @DevinGleasonLambert But it's not Guess. It's a Guess Statistic Message. A message is a noun. Guess Statistic just describes the type of message that it is - one that messages about guess statistics. – Thomas Owens May 4 '17 at 21:02

He's trying to draw a distinction between things (nouns) and actions (verbs). In conventional objected-oriented design, we think of classes as things, and their methods as the actions those things can perform. To manage is to take care of or coordinate, while manager is a person or thing that manages.

Introductory books usually boil this down to the simplest and most obvious terms possible like a class named Dog, with methods Bark and Bite. In real world classes, the distinction is often a little more subtle, but it's still there. I believe the point Uncle Bob is making, however, is that while manager is a noun, but it puts a lot of attention on the what the manager does, and not what it is-it's too vague of a word for describing exactly what is being managed or how.

  • 5
    Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can lead to wrong designs. One of the prime examples is the classic introductory example of a bank account. In almost all OO textbooks, Account is an object, balance is a field and transfer is method. But the correct design would be: Transfer is an object, account is a field and balance is a method. That's how banking systems are actually implemented and how banking actually worked before computers. – Jörg W Mittag May 10 '13 at 1:03
  • @JörgWMittag: that cautionary tale is well worth posting as an answer; that these are general guidelines, and can in certain rare cases lead to bad decomposition. – smci Mar 11 at 6:19

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