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How I name my apps (zachwaugh.com)
145 points by zachwaugh on Sept 1, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

I like to name my apps like classical pieces:

App No. 1 in Erlang

App No. 2 in Haskell

Variations on a theme by Hasbro

Knew a guy in college who named every physics assignment.

"A brief treatise in radioactive decay, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the α particle."

In college I had a habit of making sure every app had either the word 'Extreme' or 'Ultimate' in the title. Thankfully I have outgrown this.

This is so awesome I may have to adopt it.

Do remember to check uspto.gov > trademarks > (2) Search Marks to ensure something cool you've picked isn't an active/current registered trademark by another for computer / software / online use.

I like to use http://impossibility.org for naming apps. It ensures you can get an available domain that won't be too hard to type/say.

  $ aspell dump master |sed -n $(echo $(($RANDOM % `aspell dump master|wc -l`)))p

Is aspell a spellchecker? And does this command randomly select one word from its dictionary?

(Note: I'm mostly a Windows user nowadays and I have never personally used aspell, sed, or wc)

What does the p at the end of the line do? Is that a mistake or is it there on purpose?

The p prints the randomly chosen line -- wc -l is the number of lines in the file, (random % lines-in-file) picks a random one, 'sed -n 30p' prints the 30th line.

Any advantage/disadvantage to replacing aspell dump master with cat /usr/share/dict/words ?

Man, I got some really exotic words that way. Out of 10 words the only one I knew was bitripartite.

Too bad zsh caches var expansion. :)

    sh -c 'cat /usr/share/dict/words |sed -n $(echo $(($RANDOM % `cat /usr/share/dict/words |wc -l`)))p'
I don't have aspell installed so 'cat /usr/share/dict/words' in place.

This is actually a good way to go or at least kind of fun for killing some time.

Problem with this (and probably with the aspell version too, but I can't test that just now): $RANDOM only generates a number from 0 to 32767, but /usr/dict/words has (on my Mac) 235886 words.

    sh -c 'cat /usr/share/dict/words | sed -n $(echo $((`cat /dev/urandom | od -N3 -An -i` % `cat /usr/share/dict/words | wc -l`)))p'
This is closer, although you might get sed: illegal option occasionally, I guess. I'm yet to learn how to generate a random number within given limits with bash. Oh wait, we can use Python can't we?

    sh -c 'cat /usr/share/dict/words | sed -n $(echo $((`python -c "import random; print random.randint(1,234935)"` % `cat /usr/share/dict/words | wc -l`)))p'

I always like to hit up "Ten Thousand Statistically Grammar-Average Fake Band Names": http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~bwhitman/10000.html

I'll find words I like and fit them together myself, like Rocketboom, or Humanwire, e.g.

It would be fun (and probably exists) a fake word generator that created words that were easy to spell and pronounce, but were basically meaningless.

This is pretty much exactly what Wordoid does with the bonus of telling you if the domain is available - http://wordoid.com/.

I just number them. e.g. "4 thousand billion". Little Billy Sands we call him.

But seriously, I have given them descriptive names - inspired by the supplier of meat to MacDonalds in Australia called "The 100% Australian Beef Company". I figured it was good for googling, and informative. Also reminded me of Humpty Dumpty (my name means the shape I am). And it worked.

Though I note most people go for clever and/or zany names, with creative spellings (so they be trademarked). An amusing "story" to explain a clever name can operate as a vector for word of mouth: by passing on the story for entertainment value, you also pass on the name. It's kind of like product placement, where the story is the movie. An example is GNU. It can also operate as an in-joke, creating an artificial elite.

I learned of this technique as clustering in a creative writing course: http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/cluster.html And this was the textbook: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Natural-Gabriele-Lusser-Rico/d...

We used a similar method to get to our name: Bindle. I agree with you on a short, single word names. To add to that, I would suggest attempting to use real words, that have simple spelling.

A short naming blogpost can be found here: http://blog.bindle.me/post/9048657705/name

I find this technique works too. Come up with general ideas that describe your product, expand into metaphors. Try synonyms for the metaphors. Combine words.

In the end, the name doesn't have to be descriptive, but it does have to be unique and pronouncable.

And if you really get stuck, try removing vowels and repeating some letters

Just curious... why would you want to do that even if you're stuck? This is more of a quick brainstorm method, I don't think he's even looked to see if the domain name is available at this point.

Also, I'd rather have something like "getflint.com" or "flintapp.com" than "flnnt.com" or something. When you start getting into cutesy abstractions like that it becomes hard to remember.

I don't know about Flint, but many words already have the getname.com and nameapp.com domains taking. You can find more luck if you add hyphens though, but that makes for a pretty ugly domain.

Even .org and .net domains (which I don't mind, and prefer to ccTLDs) are getting sparse.

Randomizing is not always bad, you may just run into a good-looking name that ticks quite well -- often no more than this is needed.


Touché. I wasn't sure if this was a joke or not though. The fact that people actually do this when naming something made it pretty hard to figure out if he was serious.

I'm working to rename my comedy troupe in a similar fashion. My spidergrams (what I call this type of brainstorming) are very similar.

http://www.visualthesaurus.com/ is useful for doing this

I have never liked this naming scheme because it makes names that are existing words. This makes it hard to Google.

Just tack on "ly". In this case he would name the app "Flintly"

You missed a winner with "Spork".

I just go with food. Burger, Salsa, Arrabiata, etc.

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