Naming your open source project? Start here

We all agree: naming things is hard. So hard, in fact, that it has become somewhat of a cliché amongst developers.

(Heck, I've even given a talk on the subject.)

Perhaps the worst part of naming things? Name clashes. We see it time and time again with open source projects. To list a few:

  • Amber.js was renamed to Ember.js after learning of a Smalltalk implementation by the same name. (full story)
  • Thoughtbot has a code review tool named Hound. Etsy recently released a code search tool named Hound.
  • Danyil Bohdan pinged us about a tool he wrote called Sqawk. He later realized his was just one of at least 3 projects sharing the name.

The only thing worse than not getting to use the name you love is using it and then later realizing that it's shared real estate.

The boring-yet-precisely-named Open Source Project Name Checker (no need to worry about name clashes with that one) is a great way to avoid this problem. It searches the major code hosting services so you can quickly see if your desired name is already in use.

If Danyil had used OSPNC prior to naming Sqawk, he would've found the following:

ospnc-sqawk

This is a great way to do some due diligence when picking your name. You may still decide to use a name that has clashes, but at least you'll do it with your eyes wide open.

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