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Re: Best practice for naming of options

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  • Subject: [mg71518] Re: Best practice for naming of options
  • From: "Andrew Moylan" <andrew.j.moylan at>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 07:05:15 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <ejtd4d$ijf$>

Hi David,

Thanks for your reply. I agree that using a name like
MySpaceScaleFunction appears to be the best possible solution.

As for what is wrong with it: it's that it appears to be inconsistent
with the option naming conventions employed throughout Mathematica. For
example, in Mathematica we have the option Method, and we don't have
the options NIntegrateMethod or NLimitMethod, even though the values
that may be used for the Method option are completely different in the
cases of NIntegrate and NLimit. In both cases "Method" is the best
possible name.

In constrast, I think it is unfortunate that, whereas the functions
NLimit, ND, and EulerSum all expose an option called Terms (a clear,
unambiguous, intuitive name), the function NSum instead exposes an
option called NSumTerms. What do you think?


On Nov 21, 10:18 am, "David Park" <d... at> wrote:
> Andrew,
> What is wrong with using a name like MySpaceScaleFunction, or assuming that
> the option is actually associated with some function Foo, FooScaleFunction?
> You say that it produces cumbersome option names but if you have a usage
> message for it one can then use command completion Ctrl-K to bring up the
> options or routines that start with Foo say. So it is not all that
> cumbersome, and having longer specific names vastly cuts down on the
> possibility of conflicts. In my opinion, longer specific names are much
> better than short ambiguous names.
> David Park
> d... at earthlink.net
> From: Andrew Moylan [mailto:andrew.j.moy... at]
> Hi all,
> When writing my own functions that use options, I sometimes have a
> problem where option names become shadowed by other packages that are
> loaded later. For example, I might want to use an option called
> ScaleFunction:
> BeginPackage["MySpace`"];
> ScaleFunction::"usage" = "hello";
> EndPackage[];
> Needs["Graphics`"]
> Now the name ScaleFunction is shadowed by the option of the same name
> from the Graphics package:
> Evaluating
>   ? ScaleFunction
> gives
>   Graphics`Common`GraphicsCommon`ScaleFunction
> I can think of two possible solutions to this problem, each with a
> different problem:
> (1) I could try to always choose unique names for my options. This
> produces cumbersome option names and in any case only works until I or
> someone else writes a package with that option name.
> (2) I could use _strings_ for option names instead of symbols:
> Func["ScaleFunction" -> x] instead of Func[ScaleFunction -> x]. I have
> seen this done sometimes in the built-in Mathematica functions.
> Unfortunately, with this approach it no longer becomes possible to
> define usage text for options in the usual way:
>   "ScaleFunction"::usage = "ScaleFunction is an option to Func that
> ...";
> gives the warning
>   Message::name : Message name ScaleFunction::usage is not of the form
> \
> symbol::name or symbol::name::language.
> Is there a way to get the best of both worlds (define usage strings AND
> ensure that option names don't become shadowed)?
> Cheers,
> Andrew
> P.S. I observe that the built-in function NSum has an option called
> NSumTerms. I think this option would be better called Terms. Could it
> be that the writers of that function faced the same dilemma that I am
> facing?

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