Tips And Resources For Software Consultants

Programming Tip Of The Day #1 – Ternary Operator

So, I though I’d start this series called Programming Tip Of The Day to write about useful things I come across in programming. Both to educate my readers and as a personal archive of ideas and tips.

I will kick it off today with a quick rant about the ternary operator. I <3 the ternary operator. It’s quick, efficient and saves a lot of ugly code.

For those of you who don’t know, the ternary operator is made up of 3 elements: The condition and two results. It is of the form:

(condition) ? (result if true) : (result if false);

This is much nicer than an if statement. So here is a brief example about how a ternary operator can replace an if-statement.


<code class=’c’>if(isSnowing) {
    iMustBe = "cold";
} else {
    iMustBe = "warm";

Same thing using ternary

<code class=’c’>iMustBe = isSnowing ? "cold" : "warm";</code>

That is so much easier to read (IMHO). You can even do clever things in printing. Here is a small example in PHP for using the ternary operator when doing an echo.

<code class=’php’><?php
  echo "I am a ".((height > 72) ? "tall" : "short")." person!";

Most languages support the ternary operator. Check out this wiki page if you want more info.

Happy programming!