Programming Conventions

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Imposing a standard usually is restrictive and annoying. But having a coding convention can help in understanding better and faster the code written by a team or even by only one programmer. The coding convection used in Kratos are described briefly in following sections.



Class names must be in lower case except the first letter of each word in upper case as separator. This format is called UpperCamelCase. For example:

 class MyClassNameExample

Try to describe the type of the class with its name. Some typical cases are:

  • Elements name must be finished with Element word:
 class MyShellElement
  • Conditions name must be finished with Condition word:
 class My2DLoadCondition
  • Linear solvers name must be finished with Solver word:
 class GmresSolver
  • Application classes must be started Kratos and finished with Application :
 class KratosStructuralApplication

It can be seen that in all cases only the first letter of each word is in capital. It's important to mention that there is NO initial letter (like "C") to distinguish a class.

Class Members

Class members are in lower case with first letter of each word in capital starting with following prefixes:

  • lower case m to indicate that they are member variables:
   int mNumberOfElements;
  • lower case mp to indicate that they are member pointers:
   Node::Point mpFirstNode;
  • lower case mr to indicate that they are member references:
   Matrix& mrLocalMatrix;

Class Methods

Is UpperCamelCase without any underline "_". It has the same convention as the class name.


Macros in Kratos are all uppercase with underline "_" as seperator and always starting with KRATOS_ as prefix:



Write arguments with a UpperCamelCase format. First input arguments, then output arguments. If the argument is passed as a reference, add 'r' at the beginning of the name. If the argument is a pointer, add 'p' at the beginning of the name.

void CopyModelPart(ModelPart& rSourceModelPart, ModelPart& rDestinationModelPart);
void AddNodeToModelPart(Node::Pointer pNodeToInsert, ModelPart& rModelPart){}

Local Variables

Local variables in Kratos must be written in lowercase, with underscores between words if necessary.

double a = 0.0;
const unsigned int vector_of_neighbours_size = mVectorOfNeighbours.size();

Good Hints in programming

  • avoid using raw pointers and C-arrays! C-arrays are EVIL!
  • do not use the structure new/delete or even worst malloc/free. Do memory management via Boost::shared_ptr!
  • do not reimplement linear algebra! use ublas instead!
  • Use the Kratos data structures as much as possible! They will simplify your life!
  • Use the const attribute as much as you can ... it will avoid many errors!


Commenting for classes consist of a brief description and a detailed one as follow:

/// Brief description.
/** Detailed description. 

which must be placed just befor the class definition. for example in Geometry.h:

///Geometry base class.
/** As a base class Geometry has all the common
    interface of Kratos' geometries. Also it contains array of
    pointers to its points, reference to shape functions values in
    all integrations points and also local gradients of shape
    functions evaluated in all integrations points.
    Geometry is a template class with just one template parameter: 
    - TPointType which reperesent the type of the point this geometry
    type contain and build on.
    \see Point
    \see Node
    \see Formulation
    \see GeometryAndFormulationElement
 template<class TPointType> 
 class Geometry : public PointerVector<TPointType>

It is very recommended to use the @see command which appears as see also with a link to indicate some related classes.

For methods of the class the same structure can be used but with information about parameters and return value if there is:

/** Jacobian in specific integration point of given integration
    method. This method calculate jacobian matrix in given
    integration point of given integration method.
    \param IntegrationPointIndex index of integration point which jacobians has to
    be calculated in it.
    \param ThisMethod integration method which jacobians has to
    be calculated in its integration points.
    \return Matrix<double> Jacobian matrix \f$ J_i \f$ where \f$
    i \f$ is the given integration point index of given
    integration method.
    \see DeterminantOfJacobian
    \see InverseOfJacobian
    virtual Matrix& Jacobian(Matrix& rResult, IndexType IntegrationPointIndex, IntegrationMethod ThisMethod) const

The following commands can be used in documentation of methods and functions:

  • \param to indicate a parameter of the method
  • \return to indicate the return value of the method
  • \see to include a see also
  • \f$ \f$ Create a Latex formula in the document
  • \f[ \f] for creating a centered latex formula

Here is an example:

/** Calculates center of this geometry by a simple averaging algorithm.
    Each center point component calculated using:
     c_i = \sum_j^n(x_i^j) / n

    where \f$ c_i \f$ is component i of center point and \f$
    X_i^j \f$ is component i of j'th point of geometry and n is
    number of the points in this geometry.

    @return PointType which is the calculated center of this geometry.
virtual PointType Center() const

A quick reference to the doxygen commands can be found here

In kratos/kratos/template directory there is a header_template file prepared with grouping commands for class methods in Kratos.

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