Daily Archives: October 4, 2006

What’s in a name? Everything! From Jikes to open-source-twit

Jikes didn’t really have a name until it went out on alphaWorks (aW). We called it just the “parser” or “compiler” and each had our own scripts and aliases. Over time I tended towards the Unix tradition of using the first letter of the language name followed by the letter “c”; for example, the “c” compiler is called “cc.” This of course led to “jc” for Java compiler, though I knew in the long run that name would have to go — do you to be the IBMer reporting you have fixed the latest bug in “jc?” Not me.

When we applied to aW they asked us some questions about our technology and sent back a list of possible names. It turns out that in those days, and perhaps even now, there is a formal naming process. Then it involved a global name search of over a 100 coutnies to make sure a proposed name was not not in use.

In any event, aW sent us three names:
bytealizer, jimpala, jikes.

We both had a big hoot at “bytealizer;” indeed I just checked with a search engine and it’s still available. We eventually settled on Jikes; it had a nice ring. Yikes! Jikes! After Jikes came out on aW I realized it had a key feature. There were many search engines then and when I asked them to search for “Jikes” there weren’t many hits. After a while almost all the hits were due to our “Jikes,” the java compiler. That was the key property: “jikes” was a new name in the internet space. While “java” was cute, it wasn’t a new name and to search for “java compilers” was like searching for “coffee compilers” or “indonesian compilers.”

So if you are starting a new project, it doesn’t what you call it as long as no one else is using that name. Because then you have google and the other search engines at your constant beck and call to search the whole internet universe and tell you how you are doing. And from this came the notion of “twit.”

I knew the project was about “open source” and “volunteers”. These were essential, but they are also common words. So I came up with “twit,” thinking that searching for “open source twit” would be informative. But then I learned that even “open source” itself was suspect. Once you get into tags, some folks use “open source” while others use “open-source.”

And that’s when I put it all together and came up with “open-source-twit.” It is our global brand. When I first fed it to google a few days ago I got almost zero hits. Try it now, and you join me in observing it’s already taking hold. Not too much, since the search engines don’t seem to dig as deeply into blogs as they do other pages.

Having a unique name will let us do joint studies; for example, I expect we’ll increase the number of “j.e. sux” hits, and a search on “open-source-twit j.e. sux” might help confirm that.

“Twit” is also useful in adding a dash of fun, a quantity much needed with having to read such drivel from rms-land as can be found at floss. What dross, that floss.

From our readers: Currion, da Silva, Sears

As I was working on the new Jikes Archives section earlier today, I was reminded that one of the greatest pleasures in doing open-source work is that while most people think it’s unrewarding because there is no money involved, in fact the reward comes from realizing that with each download from your ftp site, or each comment to a blog entry you are being paid in a precious currency indeed — someone is taking their valuable time to use your work or to help you do your work.

A patch is to a piece of code as a blog comment is to the main entry, and both are of equal value. So I will try from time to time to collect together recent reader comments and also related e-mails that are sent to me.

Paul Currion responded to the article about Sahana:

Thanks for the appeal, Dave, and for all your work on Sahana so far. It can be a frustrating process – I’m in Indonesia right now, reviewing the recent Sahana deployment for the Jogjakarta earthquake, and it’s clear that we need to take a look at how support is provided during implementation as much as during development.

However the developers are the lifeblood of the project, and we really hope that Sahana can be a way for people who used to feel that their skills are useless in an emergency to make a real contribution. Sahana has built a solid product and a strong reputation, and I think that we’ll start to see much more real-world impact in the next year.

Paul is a leader in this area. You can find his name on our BlogRoll. If you aren’t familar with his work I encourage you to poke around his blog; in particular, his recent work on the Emergency Capacity Building Project is noteworthy. ECB is a collaborative effort of seven humanitarian agencies that are jointly tackling common problems in emergency response and preparedness.

Chaminda da Silva, lead developer of Sahana, sent an e-mail following up on my post about urgent need for developer support:

I liked the poem and thanks for passing this message of support around.
Please also add that we are looking for not just LAMP developers, put
people who can do documentation, localization, QA and most importantly
custom deployments for NGOs and Gov so that they are prepared before a
disaster strikes.

John Seers sent in a humorous comment to the post on Smart Guy #5:

That soft, whirring noise you hear is the sound of Mr Feynman spinning in his grave.

That’s odd. I would have expected the distant sound of bongo drums…

By the way, Smart Guy #5 has vast corp of assistants. I’ve been writing posts using the titles of his column as I have found there many spiders and bots searching to see what people are saying about Tom. I got the first hit moments after I published the latest, and have gotten about 15 in just the last few minutes. Interesting …

Copyright (c) 2006 by David Shields. Licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

Jikes Archives

If you look up on the top bar you will find a new section Jikes Archives. It has several documents from the history of Jikes. I started it at a single page meant to contain the “Jikes Coupon” text I so often mention. Then I came across a link to an old database with some of the actual documents from that days/ I thought I had lost the original proposal to release Jikes in binary form, but it turns out I had squirreled away a copy in that database, so I decided to put it up on the web. I wound up spending several hours tying all the pieces together.

I sent off a note to Jim Chao at alphaWorks as I understand they have some sort of thing planned in mid-November for which this might be useful input.

I also completed this first cut as it is a vivid, actual demonstration of how much one can learn if you just ask your users a question, give them a forum to answer, and take the time to read their suggestions.

  • Pages

  • October 2006
    M T W T F S S
  • RSS The Wayward Word Press

  • Recent Comments

    daveshields on SPITBOL for OSX is now av…
    Russ Urquhart on SPITBOL for OSX is now av…
    Sahana’s Respo… on A brief history of Sahana by S…
    Sahana’s Respo… on A brief history of Sahana by S…
    James Murray on On being the maintainer, sole…
  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

  • Top Posts

  • Top Rated

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Top Rated