Try to avoid having BOOL function parameters

Raymond Chen


Generally speaking, I believe that you should try to avoid giving functions a boolean parameter (BOOL, bool, etc.) unless the meaning of that boolean parameter is blatantly obvious. Examples of obvious meaning would be the second parameter to the EnableWindow function (TRUE obviously means the window is being enabled and FALSE means that it’s being disabled) and the final parameter to ShowScrollBar (TRUE obviously means the scroll bar is being shown and FALSE means that it’s being hidden). In both of these cases, the meaning of the boolean parameter is encoded in the name of the function itself.
But for functions like CreateEvent, what does that first BOOL parameter mean? First, you have to realize that the first BOOL parameter controls whether you get an auto-reset event or a manual-reset one. Does FALSE create a manual-reset event? Or is that done by passing TRUE? I can never remember and I have to go looking it up each time. That first parameter should have been declared as, say, a DWORD or, even better, an enum with two legal values, EVENTTYPE_AUTORESET and EVENTTYPE_MANUALRESET.
Even worse is that CreateEvent has two BOOL parameters. Like anybody reading the code later can remember which comes first.
And the mystery bools keep coming. Consider, for example, StreamReader(Stream, bool). What does true mean? Or false? Heck if I know.

Mind you, this is just my opinion. Others may disagree with me.

Raymond Chen
Raymond Chen

Follow Raymond