Names, names, names

Provoked by the new desktop recorder “byzanz” and the newly renamed videoconferencing tool “Ekiga” (really, people, PUT DOWN THE CRACK PIPE. Yes, I know it’s something clever from a language you don’t speak. No, this does not make it okay.), I hereby propose the following usability improvements for GNOME 2.14:

Evolution will be renamed GNOME Mail, shortened to Mail within the GNOME environment

abiword > GNOME Word Processor

byzanz > GNOME Desktop Recorder

ekiga > GNOME Video Conferencing
eog > GNOME Image Viewer

epiphany > GNOME Web Browser

evince > GNOME Document Viewer

file-roller > GNOME Archive Manager

gcalctool > GNOME Calculator

gedit > GNOME Text Editor

gnopernicus > GNOME Screen Reader

gucharmap > GNOME Character Map

metacity > GNOME Window Manager

nautilus > GNOME File Manager

sound-juicer > GNOME CD Ripper

totem > GNOME Media Player

vino > GNOME VNC Server

yelp > GNOME Help Browser

etc, etc, etc. Get the idea yet? Seriously. I thought you guys were supposed to be making a simple, usable desktop. Call at least the _user-facing_ applications something simple, obvious and immediately descriptive of the application’s function. No, “Windows / Mac / Firefox doesn’t do it” isn’t an acceptable argument. This way everyone knows what a certain app DOES. No, keeping the cryptic names but using a description in the menu / window title / everywhere else isn’t acceptable either; firstly it’s inconsistent, and secondly usage of the cryptic name will inevitably be preserved on Bugzillas, mailing lists etc, leaving the user hopelessly confused when he goes to report a bug in “GNOME Media Player”. How’s he supposed to know that for the ML or bugzilla he’s supposed to call it “totem”? Just give up the “I’m-smarter-and-more-socially-cohesive-than-j00!” names and use some that tell us all what we’re doing, thanks.

5 Responses

  1. JadziaMD
    JadziaMD January 10, 2006 at 5:16 pm | | Reply

    I agree the names are getting a bit crazy, but instead of stifling their creativity we could just change the name in the menu alone. 🙂 Of course they would still see the name of the programme when it starts up. 😉

  2. adamw
    adamw January 10, 2006 at 10:19 pm | | Reply

    Doesn’t work for the reasons I gave in the post. When users go somewhere to ask a question / report a bug / whatever, the stupid cryptic name may well be in use and they will be lost. Application names are not the place to express creativity, but to tell you what the application does. Express creativity somewhere else. 😀

  3. damien
    damien January 11, 2006 at 8:46 am | | Reply

    First of all, Ekiga is not only a videoconferencing tool.

    There are 2 major flaws with your reasoning:
    1) By giving such names, you will limit the tool to one specific categories of software, which is not good. Taking the example of Ekiga, “GNOME Voice Over IP, IP Telephony and Video Confering Softphone and also Sometimes Instant Messenging Program” would be an accurate definition of the tool.

    2) By giving such names, you also for GNOME to stay with the same application for a specific task forever. What will happen where there will be a better recorder than Byzanz? Will Byzanz keep the name “GNOME Desktop Recorder”?

    Notice also that most applications are not limited to GNOME. For example, evolution, and Ekiga, are both trying having a life in the WIN32 world. I don’t think “GNOME Mail Program” makes much sense on WIN32.

    I don’t want to enter in a lenghty discussion with you, but I think your reasoning is majorly flawed.

  4. adamw
    adamw January 11, 2006 at 11:42 am | | Reply

    1) Just like Evolution isn’t only a mail tool; I did think about that while I was inventing the names. I suspect, though, that “GNOME Mail” is basically what most users think of Evolution as, and “GNOME Videoconferencing” is what users think of gnomemeeting, sorry, ekiga as, etc etc. There’s no need to shoehorn every function of every app into the name, the idea is to match the name to the user’s expectation. To put it another way – sure, ‘ekiga’ can do instant messaging, but if you’re looking for an instant messaging app, you’re likely going to want gaim (or gossip or whatever), not ekiga. I don’t know what the ‘official’ GNOME IM client is, currently, which is why I didn’t include that name, but if it were say gossip, then gossip would be named GNOME Instant Messaging.

    2) No, it won’t, it would either be dropped or if someone was interested in maintaining it, go ahead and give it a new, cryptic name. I don’t see any problem with this. Take the Galeon > Epiphany switch – if Galeon had been called GNOME Web Browser then it was decided to replace it with Epiphany, Epiphany would take on the name GNOME Web Browser then Galeon could revert to (or, if this scheme had been in place a long time, invent) the name Galeon and go off on its own track.

    I don’t see the problem with having GNOME Mail on Win32. GNOME isn’t limited to Linux, or *nix. If I were a Windows user who had no clue what GNOME was and I came across the app the ‘GNOME’ part of the name might confuse me, but the ‘Mail’ part would let me know what the app does, and maybe if I tried it out and liked it I’d be interested to find out what this GNOME thing was. With the current name, I’d just be flat out confused.
    Seriously, what is the _benefit_ of a name like Ekiga? At least your previous name gave a couple of vague hints as to what the app did. If I had no clue what a gnomemeeting was and someone mentioned it in a blog entry, I might guess exactly what it was if I was familiar with netmeeting, or if I wasn’t, I might at least guess it had something to do with social interaction. Ekiga? If I don’t know what your tool does and I read something like “I tried Ekiga yesterday, it’s great” – what am I going to think? It could be a new flavour of ice cream or the latest rave drug for all I know.

  5. JadziaMD
    JadziaMD January 11, 2006 at 12:09 pm | | Reply

    adamw wrote: when users go somewhere to ask a question / report a bug / whatever, the stupid cryptic name may well be in use and they will be lost.

    Thought what you say is undeniably true, I just wonder how many people, now the people who would get confused by strange names for programmes mind you, actually are willing and capable to file bug reports? As far as questions are concerned the people helping would be able to know what the user in need was talking about. As I said before, I still like the idea. Although I still tell people to pull up KDE Control Centre or pull up the Mandriva Control Centre. Just seems odd to me to tell them “go to `Configure your computer'”.

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