Carter Pape is a journalist and developer seeking full-time work as a reporter.

naming


In programming and outside of programming, names are important,12345 so I’m dedicating a whole article to how I came up with the name of my text editor app. The place to start is simple ideation. What words do I think of when I think of what I’m making?

Coming up with answers, “paper” seems the perfect fit. Calling this app “paper” makes sense as a reference to the experience the app is meant to provide; it refers to the focus and simplicity of the experience of physically writing on paper. On top of this, a new document in the app is totally blank when launched, just the same as a piece of paper.

Making the name lowercase is an intentional choice. Modern stylistic sensibilities for capitalizing titles and headings seem to give deference to the lower case6, which is why I have made that the standard on my website.

app in macOS dock, named "Paper"

Alas, Mihhail Lapushkin (listed as the seller of an existing macOS app named Paper) beat me to the punch on naming a text editor app after this modestly inspiring object.

Paper is, in fact, the app I use currently for writing and was part of the inspiration for getting started on development of write. I didn’t want to copy this app and just change the capitalization of its name. I feel like that might lead to copyright trouble, but even if not, the blatant redundancy wouldn’t help in selling the idea that my app is actually different, which it is.

In coming up with alternatives, I wanted a short word—one syllable, ideally. Something that meaningfully describes the app itself.

  • note: This one wasn’t ideal because this isn’t a note-keeping app. It’s an app for writing and editing prose.
  • write: This is pretty good. It’s not too specific about what type of writing is going on (accepting users who seek simple text editing or web content editing), but it also doesn’t evoke the inspiration of a blank sheet the way “Paper” does.
  • just write: This is also good. It captures the essence of “focus” that is at the core of the app. Perhaps it’s too demanding, though?
  • focus: Gets directly at a core value of the app, but this sounds more like a productivity app for disabling games on your computer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • slate: This is a reference to the app providing a “clean slate” every time you make an app. Meant to be evocative of an empty sheet of paper, but is actually the name of a news organization and is too referential of “clean start” as in New Year’s Day rather than a blank canvas.
  • sheet: This is also okay. Pretty clearly referencing the idea of a sheet of paper. Perhaps implies a single sheet of paper or an information sheet, like stat sheet, sheet music, or time sheet.

In the end, and somewhat arbitrarily, I chose “write” at the beginning of development when Xcode asked me to name the project, and I wanted to go straight into creating the app instead of thinking too much about the name.

At this point, I’m leaning toward the final choice “sheet,” but there’s still time to decide later. There are greater priorities, and write sounds good enough. Changing the name will not get substantially harder as development plods along.