Naming the Patron Object


Filed under: Vigil Journey

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.

-Phil Karlton

To any seasoned developer, this is entirely too true, and many people have written extensively on why this is so hard. For this particular exercise, I have to decide what to the call the core object that represents a (potentially) giving unit in Vigil. Trolling through existing applications, here some options I have come across, and why I rejected them:

  • Client - feels too impersonal for a DRM, though I know there are non-profits that use this as their preferred term.
  • Constituent - the term is mostly used with voting system. Also, I am really loathe to type out "Constituent" thousands of times.
  • Customer - this term is associated more with a point-of-sale system than a donation tracking system.
  • Donor - not all names in the database are going to be actual donors. Some will just be people that purchased something, many will not even have given (in a system I recent worked on, around 55% of the names were non-donors).
  • Entity - this conflicts heavily with Entity Framework, where the Entity object is used everywhere.
  • Patron - this is a compelling term, since it has the dual definition of being both a person who gives financially, and a customer to a store.

The other part of the name is that it needs to pair with all of the auxilary tables that will be prefixed with:

  • __Address
  • __Attachment
  • __BankAccount
  • __Code
  • __ContactBase
  • __CreditCard
  • __Date
  • __Email
  • __Identifier
  • __Note
  • __Number
  • __Payment
  • __Person
  • __Phone
  • __Relationship

And that's just the preliminary list!

I had initially gone with Entity, since that it is what our current system uses. However, I quickly tired of running into the namespace conflicts with EF, and thus went searching for alternatives. I had almost settled on Constituent, until I went to start the re-factoring and after the twelfth time of typing it, realized it was going to cause CTS. Patron was a late find that I stumbled upon. Thesauruses are my friends. So far, I am really digging it. I figure I get one re-factoring before I hit the point of no return. I am hoping this is the right one.