Why are coding standards arse about face at times and other things from FotB day 2

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

One of the talks I went to today at Flash on the Beach was by Grant Skinner and it was entitled “Things Every ActionScript Developer Should Know”. It was an interesting set of programming tips, geared loosely toward AS3 developers. As is often the case for me at such talks, a small thing will often set me thinking and that is the detail I remember from the talk. On this occasion, Grant was talking about coding standards, and when to capitalize the first letter of a name, and when not to. Like me – and probably most people – he adopts the rule of classes are capitalized, instances aren’t. For some reason, Grant’s talk set me thinking though. Why do we do it this way around. Let me give you two examples of English language:

My Dad is capitalised; other dads are not.

Grant and Niqui were two of today’s speakers.

In English, instances of something are capitalized; the something isn’t. So what? Well to me it highlights how important a key point Grant was making is: there are no right ways in programming. As long as “classes are capitalized, instances aren’t” is consistently applied within your team, then it is a good rule. Oh and in case you are tempted to argue that if English does it a certain way, coding standards should follow, remember English gives us the insanity that is the spelling of though, through, thorough, bough and trough. So I’d argue that it doesn’t have a leg to stand on in dictating rules that coding standards should follow.

Another notable presentation today was by Niqui Merret on the topic of Accessibility. I was impressed with the talk, not least because she didn’t just present accessibility as making your apps compatible with a screen reader. She also touched on Braille displays, magnifiers, high contrast colours for those with poor vision and low contrast for those with dyslexia. Flex has accessible features turned off by default, and I know next to nothing about accessibility in Flash, so Niqui’s talk was invaluable to me.

Two days down and – so far – I’m more than happy with this year’s Flash on the Beach. There seems to be more developer-orientated content this year, and less arty “look at me and my pretty Flash-generated pictures; aren’t I clever” content. Roll on tomorrow…