Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Nov 2009 00:05 UTC, submitted by elsewhere
KDE We all know what KDE stands for, right? Unless you're new here, you'll know that it stands for the K Desktop Environment. While this certainly covers a large chunk of what KDE stands for, it has increasingly lost its meaning over the past few years. Consequently, the KDE team has decided to 'reposition' the KDE brand.
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RE: Mass renaming needed
by Doc Pain on Thu 26th Nov 2009 05:31 UTC in reply to "Mass renaming needed"
Doc Pain
Member since:

That's just one of the problems with all of the OSS world. The naming is horrendous in all parts.

Not in all parts, but basically at a high percentage in the field of desktop ("Average Joe") applications. For example, most CLI programs use names that tell you what the program basically does (e. g. pkg_add = add a package, smartctl = control program for S.M.A.R.T. functions, find = find files, sysinstall = system installer etc.). I agree that some program names have historical reasons, and many of them are acronyms, but they do exist longer than the Internet and have their place among experienced users. The average user mostly doesn't even get in contact with them, so there's no need to make them "sound better" (dd = copy_and_convert, tar = tape_archiver, fsck = file_system_checker etc.).

But with new programs, there should be some work done to give a good program a good name. An excellent example are web browsers. "Mozilla" and "Firefox" don't "talk to the user", they're just brand names, such as you know that a "Ford" is a car (and not a fridge), or that "Coke" is something you can drink. Another example is Apple's "Safari": This name is "more talking", like, you use the web as you go on a Safari, or even MICROS~1's "Explorer", like, you explore things. Maybe this idea inspired the name "Konqueror" for KDE's web browser. But as I mentioned earlier, this name is hard to pronounce, at least for the average german PC user.

The means to establish brand names - names that do not have a relationship to what the product essentially is - is done through advertisement. Using common means of advertisement, you can "teach" the masses to understand every arbitrary brand name and bring it in relationship with a certain product. This is especially true for artificial words or for words borrowed from a foreign language, e. g. the "Handy" is the name of a mobile phone (cellphone) in Germany.

KDE Gnome gimp gtk pitivi Thunderbird firefox f-spot etc. What in the world do any of these names mean?

First of all, most of them are english words. If I would translate them to the german language (my native language), they end up in complete stupid thoughts. A gnome, a don't know, a don't know, another don't know, a bird that explodes, a fox that's on fire, a point where 'F' is...

Way too many acronyms and made up words.

I think the acronymes are not the problems as long as they carry an understandable meaning (e. g. xmms = X multimedia system).

To understand them, some knowledge is needed, especially about conventions, such as "tk" being a suffix for "toolkit", which many toolkits follow.

A problem may arise when acronyms include other acronyms, e. g. GTK = Gimp Toolkit = GNU Image Manipulation Program Toolkit. That can be confusing.

The acronym KDE, as far as I know, is based upon CDE, the "Common desktop environment", with C for "Common" changed to "K" with no special meaning.

Most other main stream apps are more sensical: photoshop word iChat iPhoto internet explorer.

Those are established brand names - established by advertising actions of wealthy commercial entities. It's important to understand that most FOSS creators cannot afford this.

Using abbreviations and arbitrary product names isn't restricted to FOSS, as I could prove. Think about VMS and what it stands for, think about z/OS and its meaning, think about the well-sounding IRIX and Solaris, think about HP-UX. They're all well-known and established names, and nobody complains that "HP-UX is hard to remember" or that "Java sounds strange".

The examples of iChat and iPhoto show how conventions are used within a certain ecosystem of software (and, in Apple's case, of hardware, too).

But again, if you translate those words into your own native language, those names may sound stupid, such as "Word". "Photoshop", a shop where you buy photos, isn't much better. But at least ther's a relationship between what the program is called and what the program is inteded to be used for. A counterexample from MICROS~1's "Office" suite is "Excel". What's an "Excel"? A thing with numbers in tables. And "Powerpoint"? A point where all the power is?

Is it seriously that hard to come up with a name that can actually be pronounced?

It seems to. I may say that I agree with your point, basically.

KDE has actually done nothing here to lessen confusion.

KDE is just jumping on the same waggon as all other creators of software are already on: There's a new program, it needs a name. Something has to be chossen. Once choosen, it can't be changed anymore, except an advanced product is created on the basis of an older product, such as "Mozilla" has become "Firefox".

In case of "good naming", KDE as well as Gnome or Xfce (I think that's the correct writing today) are on the same level. Program names seem to be completely arbitrary chosen, and the choice often leads into confusion or plain head shaking, especially in non-english speaking countries.

It really seems that you have to use CLI programs if you want to have good program names. :-)

According to your idea of a "mass renaming": That cannot be done with all of the programs. I remember that the "Pidgin" IM program had another name some years ago, and today it's known by this name, such as "Gimp" is used synonymous for a professional image manipulation program. You cannot rename them. But what's possible is to pay more attention at program names when you introduce a new program.

Edited 2009-11-26 05:41 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[2]: Mass renaming needed
by Praxis on Thu 26th Nov 2009 06:33 in reply to "RE: Mass renaming needed"
Praxis Member since:

Picking a name that sounds great in all languages is hard, I would even say impossible if your goal is truly all languages. And if you go too generic your program becomes hard to find and hard to distinguish from other programs. I mean you could name a group of programs, web browser, image creator, music player, word processor, spreadsheet, email, instant messenger, ect... But your going to have a hell of a time finding it in search or differentiating yourself from the competition. A good name should be short, catchy, and be paired with good logo. Its a big plus if the name suggests functionality, but in practice its hardly a requirement. Branding isn't a big deal especially if you throw the function into a subtitle or somewhere in the metadata so a search for web browser will bring up firefox. Brands are everywhere and present in every market, no one is not using a program because branding name, if the product is good people will recommend it to their friends and it will spread. If words like twitter and google can catch on anything can. The exception being if your name already carries some bad connotation like the gimp. And you need to check for that in multiple languages too, a few products have been burned by their name having an unintentional meaning in another language.

I'm really ambivalent about the KDE change. its marketing. If they think this will make the K desktop environment, excuse me, the kde software compilation an easier sell to people then by all means change it. No one is going to drop it over some thing so minor and I can kind of see their point. They are trying to sell a whole software stack no just a DE so they are trying to promote the whole software stack. Honestly it changes nothing for me and I doubt any programers are having much of their time wasted by this so why not.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Mass renaming needed
by DigitalAxis on Thu 26th Nov 2009 17:35 in reply to "RE: Mass renaming needed"
DigitalAxis Member since:

A gnome, a don't know, a don't know, another don't know, a bird that explodes

Well, I laughed.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Mass renaming needed
by lemur2 on Fri 27th Nov 2009 00:26 in reply to "RE: Mass renaming needed"
lemur2 Member since:

"Way too many acronyms and made up words.

I think the acronyms are not the problems as long as they carry an understandable meaning (e. g. xmms = X multimedia system).

To understand them, some knowledge is needed, especially about conventions, such as "tk" being a suffix for "toolkit", which many toolkits follow.

One doesn't need users to be able to "understand" the program names. Acronyms are fine, because the description of the program function is right there on the menu.

The menus are laid out in logical groupings by functionality. Anyone can quickly find an application they are after, without having to knnow the name of it.

Example screenshot:

You don't have to know that the Office Suite program for presentations is called Impress, or that the spreadsheet program is called Calc, because (as the screenshot above shows) this information is intrinsic to and displayed for you right there on the menus.

BTW, the names Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel are no more or less confusing than OpenOffice Impress and OpenOffice Calc. The Windows programs are a bit harder to find on the menus, however, because you have to know the name of the software vendor before you can find the menu entries.

Reply Parent Score: 3