We need to talk. If you’re a software designer or a programmer of some merit, we really need to have a quick discussion about your application.
Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve been scraping the landscape for text-based programs and trying them out for fun. It’s one part hobby, one part attempt to build something like a directory of available software, and one part pruning away the things that don’t work at this point in history.
In that time, I’ve come across a few programs or program suites that follow a Very Bad Trend, and I’d like to stamp it out before someone comes along and decides it’s a Cool and Hip Trend That Should Be Followed. People are occasionally dumb like that.
Back in August 1990, there was an RFC for “Choosing a Name for Your Computer.” Consider this an RFC for “Choosing a Name for Your Program.”
Do not, under any circumstances, give your program a one-letter name. It’s not clever, it’s not a gimmick, and it’s not innovative. No one will think you cool if you whittle “quasi-graphical multicolor modularized file manager and ftp client” down to “q.” You are not being sassy or stylish or minimalist by reducing “terminal-based weighted action priority list manager” to “t”.
There are already at least two programs named t — this one and this one. And there’s at least one j and at least one z. And at least one r. And and least one e. And at least one w. And of course there’s X, which you’re probably using now.
I said “at least” each time because there might be more. It’s hard to be sure. Because a single-letter program name is a sentence to death by obscurity. Have you ever tried to search for a program called “u”? Go ahead, give it a try. You won’t have much success; probably you’ll be lost in a maze of text messages and Twitter postings left by 14-year-olds complaining about their parents. If you get that much.
If you give your application a single-letter name, you’ll be consigning it to the backwaters of software popularity. It’s difficult to find, hard to distinguish and doesn’t show any real creativity.
Sure, you might be a minimalist and feel it’s necessary to express that by calling your program “c”. But that’s been done too. And think about it: Out of a planet of 7 billion, a substantial proportion of which can create and develop software, are you really expressing your individuality by picking one out of 26 possible letters, and plopping down your magnum opus at that spot?
What you do on your own system is your business. If you want to scratch out an alias of “q” that redirects to “quasi-graphical-multicolor-modularized-file-manager-and-ftp-client” then more power to you. I wholeheartedly support your right to abbreviate. I do it all the time.
But calling your latest iTunes knockoff “i” is just a wicked bad idea. Don’t do it. Not only will your program never, ever see any measure of subscription, but that little tiny “i” link is really hard to hit with the cursor. 😛
Shows load average across users. Has a few options, but mostly does what you see there.
Never heard of it? Well, now you should know why. 👿