Using Case in Your Names in Software

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Using Case in Your Names
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Here is where we receive the fan mail and the hate mail all in one section of the book When it comes to using case, we feel that the best option is to keep everything in your database in lowercase This means it is more difficult to separate two words in an object, so we use underscore characters between them Now, we agree that a name like TblActiveCustomers is a lot nicer to look at than tbl_active_customers, but there is a specific reason we prefer the latter It all goes back to case sensitivity, as we mentioned earlier If you are enforcing good standards in your database and in your code, all references to database objects should match the case of the object name The problem is that so many SQL Servers are set up to be case insensitive that it makes it easy to get lazy With a name like TblActiveCustomer, it s too easy to reference it in the code as tblActiveCustomer or tblactivecustomer This is all fine and good on a case-insensitive box, but if the database is placed on a case-sensitive server then all the code will need to be fixed If everything is always in lowercase, it s a lot easier to remember the standard
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Remember that these are guidelines You can implement however you want, but in the long run, having everything in lowercase will cause you fewer headaches
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When we name our tables, we use a convention of prefacing the table with tbl_ followed by a meaningful name We do this so that you can quickly identify a table when looking at objects or queries Some people would argue that it is obvious which objects are tables, because they are listed as tables in the SQL Server tools and they are always referenced in the same places in T-SQL statements We agree with the first argument, but as for the second, it forgets about views Views and tables are referenced in the same way, and it is often helpful to be able to quickly identify whether a view or table is being used when you re looking at a T-SQL statement Additionally, you might need to look at documentation, such as a data dictionary, offline It is again helpful to be able to quickly identify your tables As for the actual name, we make sure it s meaningful and we separate words with underscore characters One other important note: We never pluralize the names of our tables The table is named for the data it holds, as in tbl_customer; even though it holds multiple customers, we do not name the table tbl_customers Here are some of the tables you will see in the Mountain View Music database:
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tbl_order tbl_customer tbl_product tbl_employee
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That convention handles 80 percent of the tables we will encounter in our database, but there is always the other 20 percent to deal with Some tables serve a special purpose, such as join tables in many-to-many relationships You may decide that you need to set up a M:M relationship between a customer table and an address table If you think about it, this makes sense; a customer can have many addresses, and more than one customer can share an address As we discussed in 3, you need to create a third join table to set up this M:M relationship In this case, we start the table name with tbl_ and then we use both of the other table names in this new name In the example of customers and addresses, we would call the join table tbl_customer_address
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Additionally, for lookup tables, some people like to add a prefix, such as lkup, after tbl_ This would give a table containing status codes a name like tbl_lkup_status_code Although we don t think this is a bad idea, it is not something we implement The main reason we avoid this strategy is that whoever ends being up the DBA for this database shouldn t care whether the table contains lookup data To the DBA it is just another table that the applications need to read, and possibly write to
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