Friday, August 22, 2014

What is in a name?

Selecting a name for a new software product such as JaamSim can be a vexing process. Names are important -- a rose by any other name might smell as sweet -- but it would not sell very well if was hard to pronounce or evoked something negative.

The Igor Naming Guide provided some excellent advice, but it was hard to put it into practice. We thought of all sorts of clever, evocative names only to find that they had been used twice over or that someone was already sitting on the .com domain name. Even the names we had rejected as being too dumb or cute had been used already.

According to Igor, an acronym is one of the worst possible ways to name something. However, we were getting desperate and the name JamSim -- "Java Animation, Modeling, and Simulation" seemed promising. That is, it did until a Google search showed that it had already been used for "Java MicroSimulation". The domain name was available, but there were too many references to JamSim for this name to be a viable option. How about "JaamSim" then?

The name JaamSim seemed pretty weak until a search on Google revealed that the "Jaam-e Jam" or Cup of Jamshid is a magical wine bowl from Persian mythology. By looking into the bowl, one could see people and events taking place in other locations: 

"The whole world was said to be reflected in it, and divinations within the cup were said to reveal deep truths."

This was great! I had been interested in Persian culture ever since reading The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám at an impressionable age. The idea that our software might "reveal deep truths" had me hooked, so the name "JaamSim" won out in the end.

Now that you know the story of its name, perhaps JaamSim will help you to reveal your own deep truths.

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