Re: Should WM_USER-like things be defines or consts?

James Kanze <>
Thu, 10 Dec 2009 01:28:10 -0800 (PST)
On Dec 10, 7:00 am, "dragan" <> wrote:

James Kanze wrote:

On Dec 9, 5:01 pm, Jonathan Lee <> wrote:

On Dec 9, 6:00 am, "dragan" <> wrote:

It's a question about defining manifest constants (at
least I think that the WM_USER-like stuff fits that

For things where the value of the constant is irrelevant,
but I need uniqueness, I prefer enums. So WM_XXX events
would fit in this category for me. It's less maintenance,
and I don't feel compelled to use all-capitals for the
name, which I find ugly.

Typically, all-capitals are reserved for macros, which don't
obey scope.

And manifest constants.

That's not the generally recommended practice in C++. (It was
recommended practice in C, but that was at least partially
because manifest constants were macros.)

At least _I_ am one who likes those things to stand out
plainly in the code, but maybe I like code that is more
visually "immediately" comprehensible.

But what do you want to stand out?

At least at present, in most environments, you have a lot less
alternatives than you have distinctions. Even important
distinctions: in order to simply parse the language, you need to
separate macros, type names, template names, and all of the
rest. That's four distinct categories, and I don't know of four
distinct naming conventions which can easily be used. (An
interesting convention would be for templates to be in italics,
but the standard doesn't support semantic meaning for different
type faces, and nor do any of the compilers I know, even as an
extension.) I've also seen a lot of people who want to
distinguish functions from non-functions, even to the point of
using the same conventions for functions and types.

Distinguishing between constants and variables, on the other
hand, is a sort of hungarian notation which will bite you in the
long run. One man's constant is another man's variable, as they
say, and today's manifest constant will be read from a
configuration file in the future.

I also don't follow the convention that macros are all upper
case: I make them title case. To each their own (unless you
are in the awful position of being a "team coder" in a
corporate setting "managed" by a post-menapausal MBA who has 1
million "business rules" for you to integrate into HER
software program! Hell hath no fury like...!).

There's no inherent merit in one convention over another, as
long as it is coherent, and the important differences are made.
Given this, it's a lot easier to flow with the croud; people
coming to your code from other projects will have to adapt less,
and you won't have to adapt when you want to read their code.
All caps for macros is about the only convention for which a
sort of a consensus exists, so it's really pretty stupid not to
follow it. (Regretfully, there aren't any other consensuses that
I know of, so I usually have to re-adapt every time I change
jobs. It would be nice if there really was one universal
indentation style, and universal naming conventions.)

And if you're producing quality software, you're a team
programmer, because one person, working alone, with no code
reviews and no discussions with other programmers, can't produce
quality code. Programming is a team activity.

James Kanze

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