Naming your code after something sensible. Or not...

Posted on 12 February 2009 in BBC red button (1 comment)

One of the colleagues has recently been spending some time trying to make some sense out of a series of long lasting code that has been given some slightly odd and meaningless names.

I'm sure anyone who has worked in software for some time has seen examples of that happening - project names creeping in to code bases and the internal lexicon. Despite my best efforts in the four years since it launched, I still haven't been able to stop the department from calling Page Numbers by their project name of QuickCodes for example, whilst the Sport Multiscreen looks set to be forever known by its project name of My Sport Now - usually abbreviated to MSN, which causes no end of mystery to new people joining the department.

Still, neither are as bad as one of the names that's currently a target for "rebranding" to something more logical.

The system in question is one which allows us to schedule a link on the BBC Red Button homepage at any arbitrary time of the day, and for any arbitary time duration. It's usually used to promote the big, programme related services like Elbow in Concert, or Wimbledon.

The link has, for the last five years, been called an MSA link. Link is of course a great term because it is a link. MSA is, however, not to so good.

And MSA isn't even a project name for the link. Oh no. This one is more obscure.

For this link is named after a room in Television Centre.

The Multi Streaming Area.

The room where someone would press the button that published the link onto the homepage.

The MSA was actually part of the BBC's old playout area within Television Centre - there were two areas. One area controlled the playout of BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four, whilst another (the MSA) controlled the playout of BBC Three and a host of BBC and UKTV commercial channels, in the UK and abroad.

In the BBC One/Two/Four zone, one person was required to look after each channel. In the MSA one person would monitor several channels at once, which were played out automatically.

However the MSA went into history - about four or five years ago, the two playout areas were merged together and moved into a new playout centre. No more MSA.

Except in the world of BBC Red Button where it stubbornly hung on for dear life.

Until now anyway, as it's soon going to be rebranded a far more logical and sensible name. "Scheduled Bridge Link". Says what it does on the tin.

So bye bye MSA. Finally you will soon be gone and no more will you confuse new people.

Well hopefully anyway´┐Ż

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Adam Lounds said:

Good luck with that if you don't mandate a full-on search/replace over the entire codebase.

Of course the correct solution is to create a new backronym for MSA :-)

Posted on 9 March 2009 at 10:12 AM

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