C# Coding Standards and Best Programming Practices

Posted by imomins on October 8, 2012 at 1:25 AM

Anybody can write code. With a few months of programming experience, you can write 'working applications'. Making it work is easy, but doing it the right way requires more work, than just making it work.

Believe it, majority of the programmers write 'working code', but not ‘good code'. Writing 'good code' is an art and you must learn and practice it.

Everyone may have different definitions for the term ‘good code’. In my definition, the following are the characteristics of good code.

·         Reliable
·         Maintainable
·         Efficient

Most of the developers are inclined towards writing code for higher performance, compromising reliability and maintainability. But considering the long term ROI (Return on Investment), efficiency and performance comes below reliability and maintainability. If your code is not reliable and maintainable, you (and your company) will be spending lot of time to identify issues, trying to understand code etc throughout the life of your application.

To develop reliable and maintainable applications, you must follow coding standards and best practices.

The naming conventions, coding standards and best practices described in this document are compiled from our own experience and by referring to various Microsoft and non Microsoft guidelines.

There are several standards exists in the programming industry. None of them are wrong or bad and you may follow any of them. What is more important is, selecting one standard approach and ensuring that everyone is following it.

If you have a team of different skills and tastes, you are going to have a tough time convincing everyone to follow the same standards. The best approach is to have a team meeting and developing your own standards document. You may use this document as a template to prepare your own document.

Distribute a copy of this document (or your own coding standard document) well ahead of the coding standards meeting. All members should come to the meeting prepared to discuss pros and cons of the various points in the document. Make sure you have a manager present in the meeting to resolve conflicts.

Discuss all points in the document. Everyone may have a different opinion about each point, but at the end of the discussion, all members must agree upon the standard you are going to follow. Prepare a new standards document with appropriate changes based on the suggestions from all of the team members. Print copies of it and post it in all workstations.

After you start the development, you must schedule code review meetings to ensure that everyone is following the rules. 3 types of code reviews are recommended:

  1. Peer review – another team member review the code to ensure that the code follows the coding standards and meets requirements. This level of review can include some unit testing also. Every file in the project must go through this process.
  2. Architect review – the architect of the team must review the core modules of the project to ensure that they adhere to the design and there is no “big” mistakes that can affect the project in the long run.
  3. Group review – randomly select one or more files and conduct a group review once in a week. Distribute a printed copy of the files to all team members 30 minutes before the meeting. Let them read and come up with points for discussion. In the group review meeting, use a projector to display the file content in the screen. Go through every sections of the code and let every member give their suggestions on how could that piece of code can be written in a better way. (Don’t forget to appreciate the developer for the good work and also make sure he does not get offended by the “group attack”!)

Note :
The terms Pascal Casing and Camel Casing are used throughout this document.
Pascal Casing - First character of all words are Upper Case and other characters are lower case.
Example: BackColor
Camel Casing - First character of all words, except the first word are Upper Case and other characters are lower case.
Example: backColor

1.      Use Pascal casing for Class names

public class HelloWorld

2.      Use Pascal casing for Method names

void SayHello(string name)

3.      Use Camel casing for variables and method parameters

int totalCount = 0;
void SayHello(string name)
            string fullMessage = "Hello " + name;

4.      Use the prefix “I” with Camel Casing for interfaces ( Example: IEntity )

5.      Do not use Hungarian notation to name variables.

In earlier days most of the programmers liked it - having the data type as a prefix for the variable name and using m_ as prefix for member variables. Eg:

string m_sName;
int nAge;

However, in .NET coding standards, this is not recommended. Usage of data type and m_ to represent member variables should not be used. All variables should use camel casing.

Some programmers still prefer to use the prefix m_ to represent member variables, since there is no other easy way to identify a member variable.

6.      Use Meaningful, descriptive words to name variables. Do not use abbreviations.


string address
int salary

Not Good:

string nam
string addr
int sal

7.      Do not use single character variable names like i, n, s etc. Use names like index, temp

One exception in this case would be variables used for iterations in loops:

for ( int i = 0; i < count; i++ )

If the variable is used only as a counter for iteration and is not used anywhere else in the loop, many people still like to use a single char variable (i) instead of inventing a different suitable name.

8.      Do not use underscores (_) for local variable names.

9.      All member variables must be prefixed with underscore (_) so that they can be identified from other local variables.

10.  Do not use variable names that resemble keywords.

11.  Prefix boolean variables, properties and methods with “is” or similar prefixes.

Ex: private bool _isFinished

12.  Namespace names should follow the standard pattern


13.  Use appropriate prefix for the UI elements so that you can identify them from the rest of the variables.

There are 2 different approaches recommended here.

a.      Use a common prefix ( ui_ ) for all UI elements. This will help you group all of the UI elements together and easy to access all of them from the intelligence.

b.      Use appropriate prefix for each of the ui element. A brief list is given below. Since .NET has given several controls, you may have to arrive at a complete list of standard prefixes for each of the controls (including third party controls) you are using.


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