User:Jon Denning/Projects/Function Naming

Intro to this Doc

I created this document as a simple guide to help me understand how functions are currently named and called, especially since some functions rely heavily on many levels of indirect calling. Presently, this document is only based on my experience and understanding and some feedback, so it likely contains errors.

I have two hopes for this document:

  • after being reviewed, corrected, and improved, that this document could be made available to newcomers as part of their onboarding, and
  • this document could morph into a function naming design doc

Notes: This is far from exhaustive or comprehensive, as I have only explored a small subset of the codebase. Also, this is (mostly) my understanding of the code base, which could be incorrect.

Let me know if you find bugs or other ways to improve this document!


  • A static function is only accessible within that file (limited scope, not a "global" function, which is the default). While this qualifier is not part of the function's name, it is still useful to know for understanding the scope of functions.
  • Naming should follow the snake_case convention.
  • Different areas of code may adopt different coding styles, so prefixes and suffixes may not be correct or consistent.
  • Many of these conventions will (hopefully!) change as Blender moves away from C and toward C++ (yay, namespaces!).

Other Links

Always refer to official documentation. Listed below are some great starting places.


The mathematics code has its own naming convention.


Vector functions have a prefix that indicates what operation is performed, a possible infix and 1+ suffixes to indicate vectors. The first vector passed (whether infix or suffix if no infix) is usually considered the destination, and the second vector passed (if applicable) is considered the source. If three or more vectors are given in total, the first is the destination, and the other two are sources.

Due to the limitations of C (no function overloading), a final suffix could be added to indicate that the vector types are double (db), int (i), short (short), etc. If no type is given, float (fl) is assumed.

Note: a singleton vector (a single float) is denoted with i, fl, or db.

Prefix Meaning Analogy Description
zero_A zero A=0 sets A to 0
is_zero_A test if zero A==0 returns true if A is exactly 0 (no epsilon)
negate_A negation A=-A negates values of A
negate_A_B negated store A=-B stores in A the negated values of B
copy_A_B copy A=B copies values from destination (B) to source (A)
swap_A_B swap T=A; A=B; B=T swaps values in A with B
add_A_B incremental add A+=B adds values in B into A
add_A_BC add (overwrite) A=B+C stores sum of values in B and C in A
madd_A_BC Multiply and incremental ADD A+=B*C adds product of B and C to A
madd_A_BCD weighted addition A=B+C*D stores in A the weighted sum of B (scaled by 1) and product of C and D
sub_A_B decrement subtract A-=C subtracts values in B from A
sub_A_BC subtract (overwrite) A=B-C stores the difference of values of B and C in A
mul_A_B scaling A*=B scales values of A by B
mul_A_BC multiply (overwrite) A=B*C stores in A the product of B and C
invert_A invert A=1/A inverts values of A
invert_A_safe safe invert A=(1/A) if A!=0 inverts values of A, but only if non-zero
abs_A ABSolute A=abs(A) stores in A the absolute value of A
abs_A_B ABSolute A=abs(B) stores in A the absolute value of B
dot_AB DOT (inner) product A·B returns the inner product of A and B
dot_ABC DOT product (B-A)·(C-A) returns the inner product of vector from A to B with vector from A to C
angle_ABC angle acos(norm(A-B)·norm(C-B)) returns angle between direction from B to A and direction from B to C
... ... ... ...


Some general notes follow.

  • If the function begins with a capitalized letter, these functions should be considered as "public" and therefore part of the Blender API (callable from other parts of Blender code).


Module prefixes can be in all caps (indicating public functions), but not always. A module prefix indicates the module to which that function "belongs" (see Modules).

The following list includes modules as well as subprojects, subareas, and other module-like groups of functions.

Prefix Meaning Link Description
BKE_* Blender KErnel Core Module These functions are usually core Blender functions and should be considered low-level
BM* / BM_* BMesh Modeling Module Deal with the BMesh data structure. Most (all?) mesh altering operations (think Edit Mode) manipulate the mesh through BMesh operations.
ED_* EDit Modeling Module Manipulate Object data (Mesh, Curve, Text, etc.), used in Edit Mode.
EDBM_* EDit mesh + BMesh ? Edit mesh / BMesh manipulation functions.
VIEW3D_* VIEWport 3D EEVEE & Viewport Module Render code for 3D Viewport
WM_* Window Management User Interface Module Deals with window interaction


  • I'm not sure what distinguishes the EDBM_* fns differ from the BM* / BM_* fns, other than the BMesh fns are low level while the EDBM fns are higher (calling the BMesh fns) and work to maintain correspondence between edit mesh and bmesh.


Non-module prefixes give indication as to how or why the function is called. Groups of functions can adopt a local prefix (only used in a single file or small number of files) to show their relation (ex: raycast_* in raycast_all_cb, raycast_tri_backface_culling_test, and raycast_obj_fn). The table below covers only the prefixes that are broadly adopted.

Prefix Meaning Description
cb_* CallBack Passed as arguments to other functions or stored in data structures to be called back at a later time. Some example uses of callback functions are list filtering, operating on geometry, handling a timer event, etc. (See *_fn suffix)
register_* Register Register higher order functions (for types, operators, callbacks, etc.) into Blender ecosystem (API) for use in the rest of Blender
test_* Test Perform some binary test (return a bool), without side-effects.



Operators are groups of functions with the same base function name that all work together to perform some operation. The suffix indicates what part that function performs for the overall operation.

Note: this follows the BPY Operator naming conventions. See wmOperatorType.

Suffix Meaning Description
*_exec Execute Performs the operation, and then returns control to caller. Although there could be adjustable parameters, _exec functions perform their job with needing user interaction. They do what they do, then get out of the way.
*_invoke Invoke Performs the operation, but with a period of user interaction (adjusting parameters, cancelled, committed, etc.) before returning control to the caller.
*_poll Poll Return a bool to indicate whether the context is correct for the related _exec and/or _invoke functions to operate.


Suffix Meaning Description
*_clear / *_destroy / *_free Clear / Destroy / Free Frees memory use. Usually related directly with data structures or a process that involves data structures. Think of this as a deconstructor in C. Note: *_clear should probably not deallocate memory, only free / unset it.
*_create / *_init / *_new / *_setup Create / Initialize / New / Setup Allocates and initializes data structures. Usually related directly with data structures or a process that involves data structures. Think of this as a constructor in C.
*_ensure Ensure Make sure that lookups and caches are set up and ready to use
*_ex EXecute Typically a wrapper for another function that has fewer arguments, but sometime it's the implementation it.
*_fn callback FuNction Passed as arguments to other functions or stored in data structures to be called back at a later time. Some example uses of callback functions are list filtering, operating on geometry, handling a timer event, etc. (see cb_* prefix above)
*_get Getter Return a value that requires some calculation (could be cached, conditional, computed, etc.)
*_impl ? A "backend implementation" (think virtual function in C++) helper function. Typically, a main function will take an object as an argument, and then call the correct implementation for the given object.


  • Should get be a final suffix as in *_color_get, or should it be a verb of the suffix as in *_get_color?