[webkit-dev] Bools are strictly worse than enums

Darin Adler darin at apple.com
Mon Dec 6 10:15:44 PST 2010

On Dec 4, 2010, at 3:01 PM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> Passing a true or false literal (at least in cases where it's not the sole argument) is a likely indicator of unclear style, as opposed to taking a boolean argument.


> In fact, even putting a boolean literal in a named variable and then passing that is likely to be fairly clear.

Use of a boolean literal can easily hide the fact that a call site is passing a boolean to the wrong argument or even has the sense of the boolean backward. The enum technique is considerably more powerful in the way that it ties the call site to the called function, providing a benefit that goes beyond readability.

That having been said the enum has at least these costs:

- The enumeration definition has to be in a file included anywhere it’s used.
- Coming up with good names for the enumeration and its values can be difficult.
- At call sites that need to compute a value to pass in rather than passing a constant the enum can obscure the code’s meaning rather than clarifying it.
- Mangled names of functions get longer.

    -- Darin

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