Roblox Lua Style Guide

This style guide aims to unify as much Lua code at Roblox as possible under the same style and conventions.

This guide is designed after Google's C++ Style Guide. Although Lua is a significantly different language, the guide's principles still hold.

Guiding Principles

  • The purpose of a style guide is to avoid arguments.
    • There's no one right answer to how to format code, but consistency is important, so we agree to accept this one, somewhat arbitrary standard so we can spend more time writing code and less time arguing about formatting details in the review.
  • Optimize code for reading, not writing.
    • You will write your code once. Many people will need to read it, from the reviewers, to any one else that touches the code, to you when you come back to it in six months.
    • All else being equal, consider what the diffs might look like. It's much easier to read a diff that doesn't involve moving things between lines. Clean diffs make it easier to get your code reviewed.
  • Avoid magic, such as surprising or dangerous Lua features:
    • Magical code is really nice to use, until something goes wrong. Then no one knows why it broke or how to fix it.
    • Metatables are a good example of a powerful feature that should be used with care.
  • Be consistent with idiomatic Lua when appropriate.

File Structure

Files should consist of these things (if present) in order:

  1. An optional block comment talking about why this file exists
    • Don't attach the file name, author, or date -- these are things that our version control system can tell us.
  2. Services used by the file, using GetService
  3. Module imports, using require
  4. Module-level constants
  5. Module-level variables and functions
  6. The object the module returns
  7. A return statement!

Requires

General

  • All require calls must be at the top of a file, making dependencies static.
  • Requires should be sorted alphabetically by module name.

Requires Structure

In order to maintain readability, require statements can be grouped into blocks. Require blocks should mimic the project's internal structure and consist of these things (if present) in order:

  1. A definition of a common ancestor.
  2. A block of all imported packages.
  3. A block for definitions derived from packages, which may be broken down recursively by subfolder.
  4. A block for modules imported from the same project, which may be broken down recursively by subfolder.

If blocks of requires are used: * Blocks should be sorted alphabetically, first by the name of the subfolder which groups the block, and then by module name. * If multiple require statements share a common path, prefer to move those to a separate block.

Requiring Libraries

Libraries are projects which define an API for external consumers to use, typically by providing a top-level table which requires other modules. Libraries will typically provide a structured public API composed from internal modules. This allows libraries to have stable interfaces even when internal details may change, and can be used both for sharing code as well as for organizing one's own code.

  • Library internals should require their public and private modules directly, eg.

    -- in MyLibrary/Foo.lua
    local MyLibrary = script.Parent
    local MyModule = require(MyLibrary.MyModule)
    
  • Consumers of libraries should require the API definition and then path to a public module, eg.

    local ReplicatedStorage = game:GetService("ReplicatedStorage")
    local MyLibrary = require(ReplicatedStorage.MyLibrary)
    local MyModule = MyLibrary.MyModule
    

Example

For a project that looks like the following:

MyProject
|- FooBar
| |- Foo.lua
| |- Bar.lua
|- MyClass.lua
|- Packages
| |- Baz.lua
| | |- Bazifyer.lua
| | |- UnBazifyer.lua

MyClass should define the following import block:

-- 1. A definition of a common ancestor.
-- Use a relative path to make sure your project works in multiple locations!
local MyProject = script.Parent

-- 2. A block of all imported packages.
-- Baz is a library we depend on in our project, so we require its API directly...
local Baz = require(MyProject.Packages.Baz)

-- 3. A block for definitions derived from packages.
-- ...and then access its members through that API. These are simple so we don't need to break them down.
local Bazifyer = Baz.Bazifyer
local UnBazifyer = Baz.UnBazifyer

-- 4. A block for modules imported from the same project.
-- Defining the path to FooBar separately makes it faster to write and for others to read!
local FooBar = MyProject.FooBar
local Foo = require(FooBar.Foo)
local Bar = require(Foobar.Bar)

Metatables

Metatables are an incredibly powerful Lua feature that can be used to overload operators, implement prototypical inheritance, and tinker with limited object lifecycle.

At Roblox, we limit use of metatables to a couple cases:

  • Implementing prototype-based classes
  • Guarding against typos

Prototype-based classes

The most popular pattern for classes in Lua is sometimes referred to as the One True Pattern. It defines class members, instance members, and metamethods in the same table and highlights Lua's strengths well.

First up, we create a regular, empty table:

local MyClass = {}

Next, we assign the __index member on the class back to itself. This is a handy trick that lets us use the class's table as the metatable for instances as well.

When we construct an instance, we'll tell Lua to use our __index value to find values that are missing in our instances. It's sort of like prototype in JavaScript, if you're familiar.

MyClass.__index = MyClass

In most cases, we create a default constructor for our class. By convention, we usually call it new.

Methods that don't operate on instances of our class are usually defined using a dot (.) instead of a colon (:).

function MyClass.new()
    local self = {
        -- Define members of the instance here, even if they're `nil` by default.
        phrase = "bark",
    }

    -- Tell Lua to fall back to looking in MyClass.__index for missing fields.
    setmetatable(self, MyClass)

    return self
end

We can also define methods that operate on instances. These are just methods that expect their first argument to be an instance. By convention, we define them using a colon (:):

-- This is functionally identical to `function MyClass.bark(self)`
function MyClass:bark()
    print("My phrase is", self.phrase)
end

At this point, our class is ready to use!

We can construct instances and start tinkering with it:

local instance = MyClass.new()

-- Properties on the instance are visible, since it's just a table:
print(instance.phrase) -- "bark"

-- Methods are pulled from MyClass because of our metatable:
instance:bark() -- "My phrase is bark"

-- We can also invoke methods with a dot by explicitly passing `instance`:
MyClass.bark(instance)
instance.bark(instance)

Further additions you can make to your class as needed:

  • Introduce a __tostring metamethod to make debugging easier
  • Define quasi-private members using two underscores as a prefix
  • Add a method to check type given an instance, like:

    function MyClass.isMyClass(instance)
        return getmetatable(instance).__index == MyClass
    end
    

Guarding against typos

Indexing into a table in Lua gives you nil if the key isn't present, which can cause errors that are difficult to trace!

Our other major use case for metatables is to prevent certain forms of this problem. For types that act like enums, we can carefully apply an __index metamethod that throws:

local MyEnum = {
    A = "A",
    B = "B",
    C = "C",
}

setmetatable(MyEnum, {
    __index = function(self, key)
        error(string.format("%q is not a valid member of MyEnum",
            tostring(key)), 2)
    end,
})

Since __index is only called when a key is missing in the table, MyEnum.A and MyEnum.B will still give you back the expected values, but MyEnum.FROB will throw, hopefully helping engineers track down bugs more easily.

General Punctuation

  • Don't use semicolons ;. They are generally only useful to separate multiple statements on a single line, but you shouldn't be putting multiple statements on a single line anyway.

General Whitespace

  • Indent with tabs.
  • Keep lines under 100 columns wide, assuming four column wide tabs.
    • Luacheck isn't accurate with tab characters, favor using StyLua instead.
  • Wrap comments to 80 columns wide, assuming four column wide tabs.
    • This is different than normal code; the hope is that short lines help improve readability of comment prose, but is too restrictive for code.
  • Don't leave whitespace at the end of lines.
    • If your editor has an auto-trimming function, turn it on!
  • Add a newline at the end of the file.
  • No vertical alignment!

    • Vertical alignment makes code more difficult to edit and often gets messed up by subsequent editors.

    Good:

    local frobulator = 132
    local grog = 17
    

    Bad:

    local frobulator = 132
    local grog       =  17
    

  • Use a single empty line to express groups when useful. Do not start blocks with a blank line. Excess empty lines harm whole-file readability.

    local Foo = require(Common.Foo)
    
    local function gargle()
        -- gargle gargle
    end
    
    Foo.frobulate()
    Foo.frobulate()
    
    Foo.munge()
    
  • Use one statement per line. Put function bodies on new lines.

    Good:

    table.sort(stuff, function(a, b)
        local sum = a + b
        return math.abs(sum) > 2
    end)
    

    Bad:

    table.sort(stuff, function(a, b) local sum = a + b return math.abs(sum) > 2 end)
    

    This is especially true for functions that return multiple values. Compare these two statements:

    Rodux.Store.new(function(state) return state end, mockState, nil)
    Rodux.Store.new(function(state) return state, mockState end, nil)
    

    It's much easier to spot the mistake (and much harder to make in the first place) if the function isn't on one line.

    Rodux.Store.new(function(state)
        return state
    end, mockState, nil)
    Rodux.Store.new(function(state)
        return state, mockState
    end, nil)
    

    This is also true for if blocks, even if their body is just a return statement.

    Good:

    if valueIsInvalid then
        return
    end
    

    Bad:

    if valueIsInvalid then return end
    

    Most of the time this pattern is used, it's because we're performing validation of an input or condition. It's much easier to add logging, or expand the conditional, when the statement is broken across multiple lines. It will also diff better in code review.

  • Put a space before and after operators, except when clarifying precedence.

    Good:

    print(5 + 5 * 6^2)
    

    Bad:

    print(5+5* 6 ^2)
    

  • Put a space after each commas in tables and function calls.

    Good:

    local friends = {"bob", "amy", "joe"}
    foo(5, 6, 7)
    

    Bad:

    local friends = {"bob","amy" ,"joe"}
    foo(5,6 ,7)
    

  • When creating blocks, inline any opening syntax elements.

    Good:

    local foo = {
        bar = 2,
    }
    
    if foo then
        -- do something
    end
    

    Bad:

    local foo =
    {
        bar = 2,
    }
    
    if foo
    then
        -- do something
    end
    

  • Avoid putting curly braces for tables on their own line. Doing so harms readability, since it forces the reader to move to another line in an awkward spot in the statement.

    Good:

    local foo = {
        bar = {
            baz = "baz",
        },
    }
    
    frob({
        x = 1,
    })
    

    Bad:

    local foo =
    {
        bar =
    
        {
            baz = "baz",
        },
    }
    
    frob(
    {
        x = 1,
    })
    

    Exception:

    -- In function calls with large inline tables or functions, sometimes it's
    -- more clear to put braces and functions on new lines:
    foo(
        {
            type = "foo",
        },
        function(something)
            print("Hello," something)
        end
    )
    
    -- As opposed to:
    foo({
        type = "foo",
    }, function(something) -- How do we indent this line?
        print("Hello,", something)
    end)
    

Newlines in Long Expressions

  • First, try and break up the expression so that no one part is long enough to need newlines. This isn't always the right answer, as keeping an expression together is sometimes more readable than trying to parse how several small expressions relate, but it's worth pausing to consider which case you're in.

  • It is often worth breaking up tables and arrays with more than two or three keys, or with nested sub-tables, even if it doesn't exceed the line length limit. Shorter, simpler tables can stay on one line though.

  • Prefer adding the extra trailing comma to the elements within a multiline table or array. This makes it easier to add new items or rearrange existing items.

  • Break dictionary-like tables with more than a couple keys onto multiple lines.

    Good:

    local foo = { type = "foo" }
    
    local bar = {
        type = "bar",
        phrase = "hooray",
    }
    
    -- It's also okay to use multiple lines for a single field
    local baz = {
        type = "baz",
    }
    

    Bad:

    local stuff = { hello = "world", hola = "mundo", howdy = "y'all", sup = "homies" }
    

  • Break list-like tables onto multiple lines however it makes sense.

    • Make sure to follow the line length limit!
    local libs = { "roact", "rodux", "testez", "cryo", "otter" }
    
    -- You can break these onto multiple lines, which makes diffs cleaner:
    local libs = {
        "roact",
        "rodux",
        "testez",
        "cryo",
        "otter",
    }
    
    -- We can also group them, if grouping has useful information:
    local libs = {
        "roact", "rodux", "cryo",
    
        "testez", "otter",
    }
    
  • For long argument lists or longer, nested tables, prefer to expand all the subtables. This makes for the cleanest diffs as further changes are made.

    local aTable = {
        {
            aLongKey = aLongValue,
            anotherLongKey = anotherLongValue,
        },
        {
            aLongKey = anotherLongValue,
            anotherLongKey = aLongValue,
        },
    }

    doSomething(
        {
            aLongKey = aLongValue,
            anotherLongKey = anotherLongValue,
        },
        {
            aLongKey = anotherLongValue,
            anotherLongKey = aLongValue,
        }
    )

In some situations where we only ever expect table literals, the following is acceptable, though there's a chance automated tooling could change this later. In particular, this comes up a lot in Roact code (doSomething being Roact.createElement).

    local aTable = {{
        aLongKey = aLongValue,
        anotherLongKey = anotherLongValue,
    }, {
        aLongKey = anotherLongValue,
        anotherLongKey = aLongValue,
    }}

    doSomething({
        aLongKey = aLongValue,
        anotherLongKey = anotherLongValue,
    }, {
        aLongKey = anotherLongValue,
        anotherLongKey = aLongValue,
    })

However, this case is less acceptable if there are any non-tables added to the mix. In this case, you should use the style above.

    doSomething({
        aLongKey = aLongValue,
        anotherLongKey = anotherLongValue
    }, notATableLiteral, {
        aLongKey = anotherLongValue,
        anotherLongKey = aLongValue
    })

    doSomething(
        {
            aLongKey = aLongValue,
            anotherLongKey = anotherLongValue
        },
        notATableLiteral,
        {
            aLongKey = anotherLongValue,
            anotherLongKey = aLongValue
        }
    )
  • For long expressions try and add newlines between logical subunits. If you're adding up lots of terms, place each term on its own line. If you have parenthesized subexpressions, put each subexpression on a newline.

    • Place the operator at the beginning of the new line. This makes it clearer at a glance that this is a continuation of the previous line.
    • If you have to need to add newlines within a parenthesized subexpression, reconsider if you can't use temporary variables. If you still can't, add a new level of indentation for the parts of the statement inside the open parentheses much like you would with nested tables.
    • Don't put extra parentheses around the whole expression. This is necessary in Python, but Lua doesn't need anything special to indicate multiline expressions.
  • For long conditions in if statements, put the condition in its own indented section and place the then on its own line to separate the condition from the body of the if block. Break up the condition as any other long expression.

    Good:

    if
        someReallyLongCondition
        and someOtherReallyLongCondition
        and somethingElse
    then
        doSomething()
        doSomethingElse()
    end
    

    Bad:

    if someReallyLongCondition and someOtherReallyLongCondition
        and somethingElse then
        doSomething()
        doSomethingElse()
    end
    
    if someReallyLongCondition and someOtherReallyLongCondition
            and somethingElse then
        doSomething()
        doSomethingElse()
    end
    
    if someReallyLongCondition and someOtherReallyLongCondition
        and somethingElse then
            doSomething()
            doSomethingElse()
    end
    

if-then-else expressions

  • Use if-then-else expressions over the x and y or z pattern for selecting a value. They're safer, faster and more readable.

    Good:

    local scale = if someFlag() then 1 else 2
    

    Bad:

    local scale = someFlag() and 1 or 2
    

    • if expressions require an else. In some cases, we only use someFlag() and someObject without the or. It's fine to either leave this as is (it doesn't have the same safety issues) or convert it to if someFlag() then someObject else nil.
  • Don't get carried away trying to fit everything into one statement though. These work best when they comfortably fit on one line.

    • Keep diffs in mind, especially around flags. Removing a condition from the middle of a line makes for a much less readable diff than removing it from between two lines.
  • For multiple line if expressions, put the then and else at the start of new lines, each indented once.

    Good:

    local scale = if someReallyLongFlagName() or someOtherReallyLongFlagName()
        then 1
        else 2
    

    Bad:

    local scale = if someReallyLongFlagName() or someOtherReallyLongFlagName() then 1
        else 2
    
    local scale = if someReallyLongFlagName() or someOtherReallyLongFlagName()
        then 1 else 2
    
    local scale = if someReallyLongFlagName() or someOtherReallyLongFlagName() then
        1 else 2
    

  • If the if expression won't fit on three lines, convert it to a normal if statement.

    Bad:

    local scale = if someReallyLongFlagName()
        or someOtherReallyLongFlagName()
        then Vector2.new(1, 1) + someVectorOffset
            + someOtherVector
        else Vector2.new(1, 1) + someNewVectorOffset
            + someNewOtherVector
    

    Good:

    local scale
    if
        someReallyLongFlagName()
        or someOtherReallyLongFlagName()
    then
        scale = Vector2.new(1, 1) + someVectorOffset
            + someOtherVector
    else
        scale = Vector2.new(1, 1) + someNewVectorOffset
            + someNewOtherVector
    end
    

  • An exception to the above is if the if expression is in the middle of a much larger expression (e.g. a table definition or function call) and converting it to a normal if statement would involve copying a large number of lines.

    Good:

    local thing = makeSomething("Foo", {
        OneChild = if someFlag()
            then makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 1,
            })
            else makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 2,
            }),
        TwoChild = makeSomething("Baz"),
    })
    

    Bad:

    local thing = makeSomething("Foo", {
        OneChild = if someFlag() then
            makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 1,
            })
        else
            makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 2,
            }),
        TwoChild = makeSomething("Baz"),
    })
    
    local thing = makeSomething("Foo", {
        OneChild = if someFlag() then makeSomething("Bar", {
            scale = 1,
        }) else makeSomething("Bar", {
            scale = 2,
        }),
        TwoChild = makeSomething("Baz"),
    })
    

  • If the condition itself is too long to fit on one line, use a helper variable.

    Bad:

    local scale = if someReallyReallyLongFunctionName()
        and someOtherReallyLongFunctionName()
        then 1
        else 2
    

    Good:

    local useNewScale = someReallyReallyLongFunctionName()
        and someOtherReallyLongFunctionName()
    local scale = if useNewScale then 1 else 2
    

  • While if expressions do support elseif, it should be used sparingly. If your set of conditions is complicated enough to need several elseifs, then it may be difficult to read as a single expression. When using an if expression that includes elseif clauses is preferred, put the elseif (condition) then on a new line just like then and else.

    • This is a tradeoff. It would be more consistent to put the second then on a newline indented again, but then you end up deeply indented, which isn't good.
    local scale = if someFlag() then 1 elseif someOtherFlag() then 0.5 else 2
    
    local thing = makeSomething("Foo", {
        OneChild = if someFlag()
            then makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 1,
            })
            elseif someOtherFlag() then makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 0.5,
            })
            else makeSomething("Bar", {
                scale = 2,
            }),
        TwoChild = makeSomething("Baz"),
    })
    

Blocks

  • Don't use parentheses around the conditions in if, while, or repeat blocks. They aren't necessary in Lua!

    if CONDITION then
    end
    
    while CONDITION do
    end
    
    repeat
    until CONDITION
    
  • Use do blocks if limiting the scope of a variable is useful.

    local getId
    do
        local lastId = 0
        getId = function()
            lastId = lastId + 1
            return lastId
        end
    end
    

Literals

  • Use double quotes when declaring string literals.

    • Using single quotes means we have to escape apostrophes, which are often useful in English words.
    • Empty strings are easier to identify with double quotes, because in some fonts two single quotes might look like a single double quote ("" vs '')

    Good:

    print("Here's a message!")
    

    Bad:

    print('Here\'s a message!')
    

    • Single quotes are acceptable if the string contains double quotes to reduce escape sequences.

    Exception:

    print('Quoth the raven, "Nevermore"')
    

    • If the string contains both single and double quotes, prefer double quotes on the outside, but use your best judgement.

Tables

  • Avoid tables with both list-like and dictionary-like keys.
    • Iterating over these mixed tables is troublesome.
  • Iterate over list-like tables with ipairs and dictionary-like tables with pairs.
    • This helps clarify what kind of table we're expecting in a given block of code!
  • Add trailing commas in multi-line tables.

    • This lets us re-sort lines with a single keypress and makes diffs cleaner when adding new items.
    local frobs = {
        andrew = true,
        billy = true,
        caroline = true,
    }
    

Functions

  • Keep the number of arguments to a given function small, preferably 1 or 2.
  • Always use parentheses when calling a function. Lua allows you to skip them in many cases, but the results are typically much harder to parse.

    Good:

    local x = doSomething("home")
    local y = doSomethingElse({u = 1, v = 2})
    

    Bad:

    local x = doSomething "home"
    local y = doSomethingElse{u = 1, v = 2}
    

    Of particular note, the last example - using the curly braces as if they were function call syntax - is common in other Lua codebases, but while it's more readable than other ways of using this feature, for consistency we don't use it in our codebase.

  • Declare named functions using function-prefix syntax. Non-member functions should always be local.

    Good:

    local function add(a, b)
        return a + b
    end
    

    Bad:

    -- This is a global!
    function add(a, b)
        return a + b
    end
    
    local add = function(a, b)
        return a + b
    end
    

    Exception:

    -- An exception can be made for late-initializing functions in conditionals:
    local doSomething
    
    if CONDITION then
        function doSomething()
            -- Version of doSomething with CONDITION enabled
        end
    else
        function doSomething()
            -- Version of doSomething with CONDITION disabled
        end
    end
    

  • When declaring a function inside a table, use function-prefix syntax. Differentiate between . and : to denote intended calling convention.

    Good:

    -- This function should be called as Frobulator.new()
    function Frobulator.new()
        return {}
    end
    
    -- This function should be called as Frobulator:frob()
    function Frobulator:frob()
        print("Frobbing", self)
    end
    

    Bad:

    function Frobulator.garb(self)
        print("Frobbing", self)
    end
    
    Frobulator.jarp = function()
        return {}
    end
    

Comments

  • Wrap comments to 80 columns wide.
    • It's easier to read comments with shorter lines, but fitting code into 80 columns can be challenging.
  • Use single line comments for inline notes:

    • If the comment spans multiple lines, use multiple single-line comments.
    • Sublime Text has an automatic wrap feature (alt+Q on Windows) to help with this!
    -- This condition is really important because the world would blow up if it
    -- were missing.
    if not foo then
        stopWorldFromBlowingUp()
    end
    
  • Use block comments for documenting items:

    • Use a block comment at the top of files to describe their purpose.
    • Use a block comment before functions or objects to describe their intent.
    --[[
        Shuts off the cosmic moon ray immediately.
    
        Should only be called within 15 minutes of midnight Mountain Standard
        Time, or the cosmic moon ray may be damaged.
    ]]
    local function stopCosmicMoonRay()
    end
    
  • Comments should focus on why code is written a certain way instead of what the code is doing.

    Good:

    -- Without this condition, the aircraft hangar would fill up with water.
    if waterLevelTooHigh() then
        drainHangar()
    end
    

    Bad:

    -- Check if the water level is too high.
    if waterLevelTooHigh() then
        -- Drain the hangar
        drainHangar()
    end
    

  • No section comments.

    Comments that only exist to break up a large file are a code smell; you probably need to find some way to make your file smaller instead of working around that problem with section comments. Comments that only exist to demark already obvious groupings of code (e.g. --- VARIABLES ---) and overly stylized comments can actually make the code harder to read, not easier. Additionally, when writing section headers, you (and anyone else editing the file later) have to be thorough to avoid confusing the reader with questions of where sections end.

    Some examples of ways of breaking up files:

    • Move inner classes and static functions into their own files, which aren't included in the public API. This also makes testing those classes and functions easier.
    • Check if there are any existing libraries that can simplify your code. If you're writing something and think that you could make part of this into a library, there's a good chance someone already has.

    If you can't break the file up, and still feel like you need section headings, consider these alternatives.

    • If you want to put a section header on a group of functions, put that information in a block comment attached to the first function in that section. You should still make sure the comment is about the function its attached to, but it can also include information about the section as a whole. Try and write the comment in a way that makes it clear what's included in the section.

      --[[
          All of the readX functions return the next token from the string
          passed in to the Reader or returns nil if the next token doesn't
          match the type the function is trying to read.
      
          local test = "123 ABC"
          i = reader:readInt()
          print(i, ",", test.remaining) -- 123 , ABC
      
          readInt reads an integer, positive or negative.
      ]]
      function Reader:readInt() -- ...
      
      -- readFloat reads a floating point number, but does not accept
      -- scientific notation
      function Reader:readFloat() -- ...
      
    • The same can be done for a group of variables in some cases. All the same caveats apply though, and you have to consider whether one block comment or a normal comment on each variable (or even using just whitespace to separate groups) would be more readable.

    • General organization of your code can aid readability while making logical sections more obvious as well. Module level variables and functions can appear in any order, so you can sometimes put a group of variables above a group of functions to make a section.

Naming

  • Spell out words fully! Abbreviations generally make code easier to write, but harder to read.
  • Use PascalCase names for class and enum-like objects.
  • Use PascalCase for all Roblox APIs. camelCase APIs are mostly deprecated, but still work for now.
  • Use camelCase names for local variables, member values, and functions.
  • For acronyms within names, don't capitalize the whole thing. For example, aJsonVariable or MakeHttpCall.
  • The exception to this is when the abbreviation represents a set. For example, in anRGBValue or GetXYZ. In these cases, RGB should be treated as an abbreviation of RedGreenBlue and not as an acronym.
  • Use LOUD_SNAKE_CASE names for local constants.
  • Prefix private members with an underscore, like _camelCase.
    • Lua does not have visibility rules, but using a character like an underscore helps make private access stand out.
  • A File's name should match the name of the object it exports.
    • If your module exports a single function named doSomething, the file should be named doSomething.lua.

FooThing.lua:

local FOO_THRESHOLD = 6

local FooThing = {}

FooThing.someMemberConstant = 5

function FooThing.go()
    print("Foo Delta:", FooThing.someMemberConstant - FOO_THRESHOLD)
end

return FooThing

Yielding

Do not call yielding functions on the main task. Wrap them in coroutine.wrap or delay, and consider exposing a Promise or Promise-like async interface for your own functions.

Pros:

  • Roblox's yielding model makes calling asynchronous tasks transparent to the user, which lets users call complicated functions without understanding coroutines or other async primitives.

Cons:

  • Unintended yielding can cause hard-to-track data races. Simple code involving callbacks can cause confusing bugs if the input callback yields.

    local value = 0
    
    local function doSomething(callback)
        local newValue = value + 1
        callback(newValue)
        value = newValue
    end
    

Error Handling

When writing functions that can fail, return success, result, use a Result type, or use an async primitive that encodes failure, like Promise.

Do not throw errors except when validating correct usage of a function.

local function thisCanFail(someValue)
    assert(typeof(someValue) == "string", "someValue must be a string!")

    if success() then
        return true, "Congratulations! You won!"
    else
        return false, Error.new("ERR_BLAH", "Something horrible failed!")
    end
end

Pros:

  • Using exceptions lets unhandled errors bubble up 'automatically' to your caller
  • Stack traces are automatically attached to errors

Cons:

  • Lua can only throw strings as errors, which makes distinguishing between them very difficult
  • Exceptions are not encoded into a function's contract explicitly. By returning success, result, you force your caller to consider whether an error will happen.

Exceptions:

  • When calling functions that communicate failure by throwing, wrap calls in pcall and make it clear via comment what kinds of errors you're expecting to handle.

General Roblox Best Pratices

  • All services should be referenced using game:GetService at the top of the file.
  • When importing a module, use the name of the module for its variable name.