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What's in a Project Name?


How about aartoon characters - from a single show to keep the set tight. And as much as I like the shows, be more creative than Kyle, Stan… or Bart, Lisa…

I used to work for a large company where one IT guy joked that every project must start with Step One: Choosing a clever acronym. He was making a good point - it was ridiculous, the extent to which project teams would go to get a catchy name.


We use acronyms, but ours tend to be pretty involved. They’ve included Spartacus and (our current project) Vlad the Impaler.

I’ve got nothing against naming a project for what it does, but sometimes you know a project name won’t be unique. We can’t call something “Accounting Rewrite” when we know that there will be another one in a few years – I guess we could do “Accounting Rewrite 2006” but Spartacus is much easier to say and remember (and keep the documentation organized).


Why not use the operations code name lists from World War II - they were specifically selected to:

  • no give away locations, functions etc,
  • while providing senses of grandeur, importance, and so on.

A number of them are freely available online - the US Army’s official one is at:


Naming projects and naming servers have a lot in common. In view of which, there are two extremely pertinent RFCs:


I prefer the second.


I always try to find something at least tangentially related to what the project is supposed to do, and then work out a way to creatively misspell it to avoid potential trademark problems. :wink:

If that doesn’t turn anything up, I’ll try and construct a silly recursive acronym that has more than one meaning. Bonus points for getting something with both a rude expansion, and a completely benign one. Failing that, I either pick something that has a cool logo associated with it, or that’s just so plain bizzare and silly, that no one will ever forget it.

I really do have too much fun coming up with names for things.


We have a project manager that’s really into cyclists, so a number of our projects have been famous bikers. I tried for star wars references once, but nobody got it…


We use marsupial names. We end up with some funny sounding names that no one understands, and that is how we like it. We have Numbat, Dibbler, Wombat, Koala, and Opossum just to name a few.


I started naming my projects after famous cities, and then giving individual sections of the project names of famous monuments from that city. eg: A CMS called Paris where the secured admin-only area was called La Bastille. (Though, naming it after a jail which was broken into, probably wasn’t the most thought-through idea.)


Weused New Jersey Turnpike rest areas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey_Turnpike#Rest_areas. Took people a while to catch on.


Character from shows. My servers are named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and my workgroup is called Sunnydale.


I wound up naming my computers after the first names of Italian bike racers that started with the letter ‘f’: felice, fausto, francesco, fabio. But when I had enough of this silly scheme, I named the last one fini.


Er… I use identity(1,1) prefixed by "project ". Although using the prefix is optional…


Muppet characters for us, or more specifically Sesame Street characters.

The muppet wiki is your friend for this one



In France we use the wine category a lot…


We mostly use acronyms or short phrases…nothing too long, just two or three words to briefly describe what it does (PlanTracker, LeadGeneration, ProjectEvaluation, etc). Occasionally, an area of our company will develop a system that they want a “really good” name for, so there will be a post on our intranet site stating that you can submit your idea for the system name and the winner will get $250 (sometimes more). They will give a brief description of what the system does so you can come up with something decent.

Most of the time though, it’s up to the programmer in charge to come up with the name. The business area usually only cares about what is displayed in the header of the page when they get to it.


Interesting, I always figured they picked the “codenames” after the fact by martketing. I’ve always used a short descriptive word or phrase that the project accomplishes.

Servers though :wink: My favorite scheme was construction equipment, like Jackhammer, Excavator, DumpTruck, etc.

Star wars planet names also worked. I miss Beru :frowning:

Cheers, ya’ll!


Hey, I wrote on this exact thing last week - http://whygosolo.com/posts/26 - and we went with Explorer Names since we’re in new territory and bucking convention.


It took awhile to catch on, but we name our projects by where we go to eat for lunch during the kickoff. Chipotle, Pollo, Wildwings, Bankok to name a few.


A couple of years ago, I wrote an article which follows up on the excellent old Salon “Name Game” piece:


I wanted to know how the companies mentioned in it - the ones being given weird expensive names, and the ones doing the naming - fared.

The results pretty much confirmed my prejudices :-).


We tend to work off a new set of names every year (helps to get an approx. age of a long running proj.)

The last three years have been:
Egyptian Gods
Knights of the Round Table
Traditional Martial Arts Weapons

Of course, then they get renamed to something boring before release to the business…