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ziggy (25)

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Journal of ziggy (25)

Monday February 10, 2003
11:47 AM

Will Redmond ever learn?

[ #10505 ]
Microsoft must hire a better naming consultant.

A little while ago, they announced a new initiative called XDocs that will be incorporated in the next version of MS Office. Today that renamed that initiative « InfoPath »

With the name XDocs, it was clear that this was a document-related technology. The leading capital «X» has a lot of connotations associated with it (extreme, extensible, XML, generic unknown quantity, ActiveX/CaptiveX, etc.) that impart the idea that this is somehow a different kind of document.

The name «InfoPath» says less than nothing. To a tech savvy audience (XML-friendly hackers), this name is actually counterproductive: it has nothing to do with either XPath or the XML InfoSet, the two ideas that come to mind most easily. They would have been better off by randomly combining two words from /usr/dict/words: dumbvest, molehare, nukezoon, atomtote, normcomb, jerkbrin, bulldate[1].

Of course, Microsoft doesn't care. If they had wanted to hear my opinion, they would have given it to me first.


[1] Actual output from this script:

#!/usr/bin/perl -lw


open(my $fh, "grep '^....\$' /usr/share/dict/words |");
chomp(my @w = <$fh>);

print $w[rand @w] . $w[rand @w] for(1..20);

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  • #!/usr/bin/perl -lw


    open(my $fh, "grep '^....\$' /usr/share/dict/words |");
    chomp(my @w = <$fh>);

    print $w[rand $#w] . $w[rand $#w] for(1..20);

    That leaves out the very last word. Here's an updated version:


    my @words;

    @ARGV = "/usr/share/dict/words";
    while (<>) {
      push @words, $1 if /^(....)$/;

    print $words[rand @words], $words[rand @words], "\n" for 1..20;

    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
    • With a few changes, this makes it a great way to find new military mission names:


      my @words;

      @ARGV = "/usr/share/dict/words";
      while (<>) {
          push @words, $_ if length > 3;

      print "Operation \u\L$words[rand @words]\E \u\L$words[rand @words]\E\n" for 1..20

      Sample output:

      Operation Demophobe Ammonolyze
      Operation Tripsacum Qung
      Operation Periodical Exultet
      Operation Kymatology Disagreeably
      Operation Aardvark Lycanthropist
      Operation Prelawfully Alumbloom

      • Wasn't "Operation Cigarillo Misadvice" the lead-in to the Cuban Bay of Pigs misadventure?
        • Nice! And "Operation Englify Ananias" was obviously the code name for the UK report on Iraq that was plagiarized and subtly distorted. "Operation Considering Microreaction" is how the US reacts to North Korea's nuclear posturing. And "Operation Scathing Anoscopy" is what'll happen to me if I don't get the Cookbook in on time. :-)


    • Yep. Fixed above. I intentionally did the grep out-of-process though.
  • The point is copyright and trademark law. It isn't an accident they come up with these names.
    • The issue isn't they have to come out with trademarkable names. It's that their trademarkable names are consistently bad and confusing to their target audience. How many Microsoft customers can explain what "Microsoft DNS," "Microsoft DNA" or "Microsoft .NET" are really about anyway?

      "InfoPath" is another in a long series of trademarkable bad names.

  • At least InfoPath is somewhat more possible to search for than most other Microsoft names: Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, Exchange, Windows, .Net, Office.