Coding Guidelines


Use the .clang-format file supplied in alpaka’s top-level directory to format your code. This will handle indentation, whitespace and braces automatically. Checkout on how to run it.


  • Types are always in PascalCase (KernelExecCuda, BufT, …) and singular.

  • Variables are always in camelCase (memBufHost, …) and singular by default. Use plural for collections.

  • Namespaces are always in lowercase and singular is preferred.

  • Avoid consecutive upper case letters. E.g.: AccOpenMp instead of AccOpenMP, or HtmlRenderer instead of HTMLRenderer. This makes names more easily readable.

Type Qualifiers

The order of type qualifiers should be: Type const * const for a const pointer to a const Type. Type const & for a reference to a const Type.

The reason is that types can be read from right to left correctly without jumping back and forth. const Type * const and const Type & would require jumping in either way to read them correctly. clang-format should handle this automatically in most cases.


  • Variables should be initialized at definition to avoid hard to debug errors, even in performance critical code. If you suspect a slowdown, measure first.

  • Variables should be const to make the code more easy to understand. This is equivalent to functional programming and the SSA (static single assignment) style.

  • Prefer direct-initialization using braces for variable definitions, e.g. T t{...}, over copy-initialization, e.g. T t = {...}. Avoid direct-initialization using parenthesis, e.g. T t(...).


  • Always use C++-style comments //


  • Always use the trailing return type syntax, even if the return type is void:

auto func() -> bool
  • This leads to a consistent style for constructs where there is no alternative style (lambdas, functions templates with dependent return types) and standard functions.


  • Template parameters, which are not a single letter, are prefixed with T to differentiate them from class or function local aliases.

template<int I, typename TParam, typename TArgs...>
auto func() -> bool
  • Always use typename instead of class for template parameters. There is NO semantic difference between them, but typename matches the intent better.


  • Trait classes must have one additional template parameter (defaulted to void) then required to enable SFINAE in specializations:

template<typename T, typename TSfinae = void>
struct GetOffsets;
  • Traits for implementations always have the same name as the accessor function but in PascalCase while the member function is camelCase again: sin(){...} and Sin{sin(){...}};