Free PHP course. Sign Up for tracking progress →

PHP: Choosing a variable name

Let's imagine that the program from the last lesson looks like this:


$x = 'Father!';

It still works, but it's changed the variable name to $x. The computer doesn't care what we call variables, it's just a soulless machine, but programmers do. We read code much more often than we write it. And not your own either, but rather code written by other people. The quality and clarity of variable names is half the battle in code analysis.

It's better to sit around and come up with a name that describes the essence, the meaning of the variable, than to name it whatever you want, and then redo it in the future. Try to give them names so that they're as clear as possible without context, without needing to learn the surrounding code.

There is a joke among developers: "The most difficult things in programming are naming variables and invalid cache". It's really hard to come up with names. What would you call the variable that stores the number of unpaid orders from customers in arrears in the previous quarter?

Self-Check. Think of a name for the variable that will store the «number of siblings of the king». Write it down in a notebook or email it to yourself. Don't put anything in there except the name of the variable. And in a few lessons we'll come back to this topic ;-)


Create a variable describing the number of my brothers and assign it the value 2. Print its contents. Then compare your name with the name used in the teacher's solution.

The exercise doesn't pass checking. What to do? 😶

If you've reached a deadlock it's time to ask your question in the «Discussions». How ask a question correctly:

  • Be sure to attach the test output, without it it's almost impossible to figure out what went wrong, even if you show your code. It's complicated for developers to execute code in their heads, but having a mistake before their eyes most probably will be helpful.
In my environment the code works, but not here 🤨

Tests are designed so that they test the solution in different ways and against different data. Often the solution works with one kind of input data but doesn't work with others. Check the «Tests» tab to figure this out, you can find hints at the error output.

My code is different from the teacher's one 🤔

It's fine. 🙆 One task in programming can be solved in many different ways. If your code passed all tests, it complies with the task conditions.

In some rare cases, the solution may be adjusted to the tests, but this can be seen immediately.

I've read the lessons but nothing is clear 🙄

It's hard to make educational materials that will suit everyone. We do our best but there is always something to improve. If you see a material that is not clear to you, describe the problem in “Discussions”. It will be great if you'll write unclear points in the question form. Usually, we need a few days for corrections.

By the way, you can participate in courses improvement. There is a link below to the lessons course code which you can edit right in your browser.


If you got stuck and don't know what to do, you can ask a question in our community