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Monday, April 8, 2013

Naming is indeed a difficult problem

There are a bunch of made-up "G" words for products and other things associated with the 500 lb gorilla of Mountain View. There's Gmail, which I assume most people have encountered at one time or another. There's "Gtalk", a common shortening of their XMPP chat service. There's "Gbike" for the colorful bikes which are frequently stolen and carted all over the Bay Area.

In terms of programming, there's Gtest and Gmock. These two projects are open-source, so they tend to show up in #include directives in external projects, too. The last one I could think of was "GVENT": the SMS short code used for updating your calendar.

I suspect there are others, but I must have forgotten them (or blocked them out, take your pick). There are also a bunch of initialisms or acronyms, some of which are better known than others, but most are not particularly well-known outside the company:

GWS, GWT, GWE, GWO, GSU, GFE, GHR, GDC, GFS, GAR(field), GRADS.

You'll see "gws" in HTTP headers on the outside world, but that's about it. GWT made it to the outside world as open-source, and GFS has starred in a white paper or two. For the others, well, you'll just have to guess what they all mean. Sorry.

As you can see, there's a certain scheme here, where you purposely try to name things to start with a G to give a sense of cohesion. The company's initial gets to start in your project or product's name. You can see that it's "G + mail", and "G + bike" and "G + mock", and so on.

The "G + this" and "G + that" pattern is why this last one stuck in my head. I can't imagine why it was named what it was, but it happened.

The project was named grape... you know, like the things you squash to make juice, ferment to make wine, and dry out to have raisins?

Only... it was in that "G + blah" environment. Given that frame of mind, what does that name look like to you now?

Yeah. I don't get it.