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Ask HN: Anyone have process for creating good internal application names?
11 points by alanl on Nov 26, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments
I work at a large financial institution, and we are really bad at naming our internal applications. They usually end up as some four or five letter acronym of the process or problem. I’m sure others people have worked with application names like CAPS, MAPPS, TRAXS CRIMS and thought they suck.

So does anyone have a nice process for coming up with internal application names?

I was a 'corporate giant' a number of years ago and developing internal applications, and I always made a point of naming my applications with absolutely ridiculous names.

A script for calculating the rate of employee attrition (voluntary departure) in Human Resources was named the "Quantitative Attrition Calculator" or "QuAC" for short. The icon was a duck.

I always had a laugh when they said the name - some got the joke and loved it, which was great... but, even better was the one who "refused to be made a fool of" and would always make a point of saying the letters. (Bless her :) )

Just last year, I had to write some Customer Relationship Management Software - which brought back memories of Quac and I went with the name "Customer Relationship Management Interface" or "CRMI" the logo was a frog and the interface was green. It's not easy being green.


My suggestion: make it as fun as you can.

I once named a deployment system "Parachute".

Because, as with a parachute... we were f*cked if it didn't deploy properly.

A tenuous link, but we still laugh about it now. And because of that, you would never forget what it actually does.

I can't believe no body has made this quote yet either...

"There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things" - Phil Karlton

I agree with the ridiculous names, especially if they fit will.

I managed to name a 'reminder system' the 'CRS'. Supposedly that stands for 'company reminder system', but we all know what it really means. ;) (Wow, a Google search doesn't turn that up as an acronym... It starts with 'Can't remember', for those that don't know. ;) )

Ha, I like that, I'm not the funniest, guy in the world but some of the guys I work with are pretty funny. I suspect my biggest problem with this is that a ridiculous name won’t get past some of the more serious old school members of upper mgmt.

Anyone pronounce CRMI as "crummy"?

With internal applications you likely won't have concerns about domain name availability, trademarks, etc., so how about a simple, plain English naming scheme, e.g., "Timesheet," "Expenses," "Inventory"?

There are often several systems being used concurrently that do the same thing: either due to different departments reinventing the wheel, or by somebody rewriting an application without retiring the previous one.

True, but that sounds like "security through obscurity" with regard to naming conflicts--two departments could both invent the same acronym as easily as a plain English equivalent (there must be a ton of "CMS" systems out there, considering "case" and "content" management).

As always it's a people problem that requires communication and coordination (and until that happens we're stuck with CLOTS, BUGR, and NIPL).

It won't ever be externally facing, so no problems with domain names.

Sets of animal names are always popular - I've worked with many Cobras and Eagles. Fierce animals such as snakes and birds of prey seem to come up often, particularly with business-facing applications.

My preferred technique is to come up with a catchy name, then derive a backronym for it that has some kind of connection to the process or problem. For instance, MACRAL could be the market and credit risk analysis library.

We once used the Latin names for constellations.

For example:

Pyxis -> "Compass"

Orion -> "Hunter"

There's usually a good mapping from the constellation name to a meta-feature of the app, for example, a large bloated app might be called Cetus (the whale).


I've used Star Wars planet names for quite a while, they sound good and most of them are pretty easy to remember.

You should check Wikipedia's list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Wars_planets_(C%E2...

So did Mozilla when they came out with "Bespin" as in the "Cloud" city. Ah... so witty... immediately every Star Wars geek knew what they were doing.

Wikipedia has a rather extensive list of greek mythological deities and mortals. Surely there is something appropriate in there ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Greek_mythological_figu...

I asked a similar question here (http://answers.onstartups.com/questions/5887/how-do-you-choo...). Hope it can help.

What about Culture Ship Names?


Perhaps with acronyms for the longer ones e.g.

Sense Amid Madness, Wit Amidst Folly (SAMWAF)

It's an old one, but I still think of it every time someone is trying to come up with an acronym: http://dilbert.com/fast/1993-06-23/

One syllable, funny-sounding abbreviations. When an entire org is saying, writing, dreaming about the same thing -- make it memorable, efficient and as fun as it can be.

Pick whatever naming scheme comes to mind, but something that vaguely relates to the program's functionality + a degree of silliness makes the name easier to remember.

Pick from the Top Ten Deadliest Animals: Dart Frog, Cape Buffalo, etc. Had a buddy who used names of Fender Guitars, boss wasn't as amused as us ;)

Muppets. Current major app being worked on is called "Statler". There's probably a "Waldorf" coming up as well in the future.

I found http://wordoid.com funny and useful for finding names.

Our company is a Greek word so we tend to use Greek names/words.

Sure. We usually come up with job titles describing the "human" equivalent of what function the application performs; e.g:

The Warden - an set of scripts to manage chroot jailed workers

The Middleman - a heavily customized MQ/ESB

The Coxswain - an app that monitors/controls system components

I name them after herbs

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