11 July, 2010

Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names

From kalzumeus.com:
... I have never seen a computer system which handles names properly and doubt one exists, anywhere. So, as a public service, I'm going to list assumptions your systems probably make about names. All of these assumptions are wrong. Try to make less of them next time you write a system which touches names.
  • People have exactly one canonical full name.
  • People's names fit within a certain defined amount of space.
  • People's names change, but only at a certain enumerated set of events.
  • People's names are written in ASCII.
  • People's names do not contain numbers.
  • My system will never have to deal with names from China.
  • Or Japan.
  • Or Korea.
  • Or Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Botswana, South Africa, Trinidad, Haiti, France, or the Klingon Empire, all of which have "weird" naming schemes in common use.
  • That Klingon Empire thing was a joke, right?
  • I can safely assume that this dictionary of bad words contains no people's names in it.
  • People's names are assigned at birth.
  • OK, maybe not at birth, but at least pretty close to birth.
  • Alright, alright, within a year or so of birth.
  • Five years?
  • You're kidding me, right?
  • People whose names break my system are weird outliers. They should have had solid, acceptable names, like 田中太郎.
  • People have names.
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