Newsletter Apr16 – 1 : Consistency in Production: Naming Variables for E-Learning


Consistency is one of the most important parts of the course production process. And one way to maintain consistency is to determine your naming conventions. And this is especially true of variables for e-learning.

In a previous post, we looked at ways to manage and name your course files. And if you’re working inside an authoring tool like Storyline you want to name your objects and layers. You can also name your objects in PowerPoint using the selection pane.

variables for e-learning and consistent design

Following these steps will make your production process less frustrating especially if you put the project away for a period of time and revisit it later. Poor names and sloppy file management will really slow down your work flow and often introduces errors in the production.

And now for naming variables for e-learning….

How to Name Variables for E-Learning
I’ve been working on a series that covers the basics of using variables in elearning. And be sure to check out these examples and tutorials.

One of the most frequent questions for those getting started is why did you name the variable the way you did? I learned to name variables a certain way (without spaces) but there’s some latitude.

variables for e-learning naming e-learning variables

Don’t Use Spaces.

Here’s the deal, you can name your variables anything you want. However, there are usually a few constraints. One of them is that you can’t use spaces. Which means your variable name can’t be Module 1 Complete. So instead of using spaces, you can use some of these tricks:

Use underscores to separate the words (Module1_Complete) or
Use capital letters to separate words (Module1Complete).
Be Descriptive.

Name the variable so it’s specific and make sense. For example, if I am tracking completion of a module, which name is the most descriptive?

Variable = Complete1 or
Variable = Module1Complete
If you don’t use descriptive names and use lots of variables you’ll find it a challenge to quickly process what you see.

Shorter is Better.

Be as descriptive as you can with the fewest letters possible.

What and when.

Some people use a What_When process. For example:

CountClicks is what do you do (Count) and when do you do it (on click).
Another example, Module1Complete_Exit indicates that the variable changes when the module is complete on exit.
The main point in all of this is to come up with a protocol that makes sense and apply it consistently. If you’re working with a team you’ll find this saves a lot of time and confusion, especially as you revisit projects and make updates.