Naming Rights: Grading Programming Language Names

What's in a name?

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Dan judges the names of some programming languages commonly used in financial services.

The first time I read Anthony Malakian's excellent feature on the Julia programming language, which you can find here, there was one question that was eating at me the entire time.

How did they come up with that name?

To be blunt, names in financial services usually suck. Sure, some vendors have good ones. But for the most part, it's usually some awful combination of words indicating the services they provide that was probably workshopped far too long at an overpaid marketing firm.

It's not just the tech companies that are bad. Don't get me started on hedge funds. Want to play a fun game? Search "____ Capital" on Google, and insert synonyms for "success," "strength" or "wealth" in the blank. If the results come back with a hedge fund, you have to drink. You should be dead from alcohol poisoning within five minutes.

That's why Julia stood out to me. The name was actually good. I'm a firm believer that naming non-human things human names is awesome. There is no way IBM's Watson would be as popular or as well-known if it was named SCV23. 

For the record, somebody told the language's creators half-jokingly that they should name the language Julia. They liked the suggestion, and the name stuck. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other programming languages that didn't choose that path. Many took the easy way out, going with uncreative, boring names.

I, frankly, won't stand for it. And that's why I've decided to take these programming languages to task. I've picked some of the ones most commonly used in financial services and given them grades. Granted, it's not all bad, but there is certainly room for improvement.

Editor's Note: If you can't tell by now, these grades are tongue-in-cheek. Please don't email me with your staunch defenses of why these names are actually smart or intuitive.

 

C/C++

C, as the story goes, originally got its name because it was influenced by the B programming language. I understand the philosophy of naming it C, but that doesn't mean I like it. This just screams laziness. However, I will say this: I do give a bit of credit to C++ for going with the double +'s as opposed to simply a number (Yes, I'm looking at you, HTML5).

Grade: C--

 

R

Naming your programming language after a letter in the alphabet? Where have I seen this before? Folks, let's get a bit creative here. I know you're far more interested in putting your efforts into creating a revolutionary language that will be used for years to come. But how can you expect us to get excited about something that's just named after a letter in the alphabet?

Grade: D

 

HTML5

If you're going have your language be an acronym, at least have it spell out something cool or interesting. "HTML" is what happens when I try to text my girlfriend "Hey" after a night out. Simply tagging a number on at the end is the icing on this awful cake.

Grade: F

 

SQL

This is a perfect example of where HTML went wrong. SQL is also an acronym (Structured Query Language), but at least it looks like a word (sequel).  I'll give credit here for the effort put forth, but we still have a long way to go.

Grade: B

 

Python

Finally, something I can get behind. Pythons are awesome. They are powerful, exotic creatures. What a great thing to name your language after! Clearly people agree, because there is also a programming language called Cobra. You know you're doing something right when people start copying you.

Grade: A

 

Java

This is the GOAT right here. Remember, Java made its first appearance in the mid-1990s. What was big back then? Internet cafes! Brilliant stuff right there. Throw in a cool-looking logo that incorporates the name and you've got yourself a real winner.

Grade: A+

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