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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Computer Operations Naming Conventions

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An interesting thread on the CTI forum caught my interest. It was a new user talking about how to name things in CTI. As I thought about the topic, it became pretty clear to me that in IMHO, naming conventions of your layout can be one of the more strategic and important decisions one can make. The impact of poor planning in this regard can have a bigger impact than many might realize.

There are a number of strategies for naming sensors, turnouts and signals. Each has it's own set of pro's and con's. I use a matrix to organize my thoughts around a topic. Here is my current thinking on this topic. Certainly there needs to be more thought put into this, but I've captured my initial thinking. Please, feel free to comment.

Layout Grid Locations
Since I use the grid layout method to identify objects on my layout, I needed to establish the grid for my Parkdale RR v2. Here is the simple Excel grid I used to identify sections of my layout.

As I use CTI's Trainbrain software to automate the Parkdale RR, a CTC panel has been part of the deliverables one gets from CTI. To help me know the actual locations of different objects (Signals, Sensors & Turnouts) on the railroad, I have put their unique identifiers on the CTC panel. Since CTI will allow for multiple CTC panels, one of my next tasks will be to develop a CTC panel that is designed around the LOGIC of the railroad program and not necessarily around the CTC panel or the physical layout. This panel will be used for troubleshooting program logic, which by the very definition of what we are doing here, gets somewhat complicated. I think this necessary complication is the reason why it is so important to think the naming convention through long before you have a lot of spaghetti code to maintain. Here is what my CTC panel looks like at the moment.


Layout Naming Conventions
What is your naming convention for your railroad?
Array notation (random no logic)
Layout location grid
Layout sequences
Layout 'names' Stations, bridges, cites etc
I really have not thought about it
I use a mix of all of it
I don't name things
Other, tell us what you do
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