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September 12, 2006  |  On the naming of products, part II  |  3800 hit(s)

A little while ago, I made a few notes about code names for products.

Yesterday Scott Guthrie posted an entry on his blog making an announcement that the product code-named "Atlas" has now got an official name. Actually, three names, because the product is in three pieces: Microsoft AJAX Library, ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions, and the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit.

Turns out that people can have very strong opinions about names and code names. Here are comments from the blog that opine on this name change:
I'm going to keep calling it Atlas (for a while anyway), it's much cooler ;-)

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I really like the name Microsoft AJAX Library. However, I think “ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions” is a mouth full to say. Any recommendation for a short name? Also, will the official site still be http://atlas.asp.net/?

Scott: ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions is indeed a bit of a mouthful. Overtime all of this will just be built-in to the core ASP.NET setup. So I suspect a lot of people will just use "ASP.NET" to describe it all.

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The word 'Atlas' has 2 syllables, 'ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions' has 12 syllable’s. I wonder if Microsoft is doing itself a disfavor by doing all these renames late in the development cycle. Are there really more pros than cons that defend the name changes? Who is the target audience that will benefit from it (I'm not sure how I will benefit)? The word 'Atlas' is very easy to pronounce, visually recognize, and it's particularly useful when searching help, internet, and blogs (e.g. "Atlas UpdatePanel" or "Atlas cascading dropdown"). This last part also implies that 'Atlas' is easy to use for those who contribute searchable content (i.e. people like Scott Guthrie :-)). A quick search reveals that you (Scott) have over 50 articles with the word 'Atlas' in the header. Anyway, I guess it's not a big deal, but sometimes you wonder if these renames really are beneficial. It certainly has caught my attention...

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In the end the name was surprisingly acceptable IMHO. I was hoping it didn't get named in the lines Foundation or Framework. I think ASP.NET developers will refer to it as "the AJAX extensions" or "the AJAX library" interchangeably because all three modules are likely to be used together in a large part of the applications. Looking forward to 1.0 !

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Why not keep the Atlas name? If its going to be a part of ASP.NET anyways, why bother?

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Hi Scott, Great decision. Like any renaming attempt, you will get many people objecting to the change and stating that Atlas was cooler (it probably was). But the point is that anyone who hears the new name will instantly know what the technology does without any further explanation. This is a good decision.

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Hi Scott, My feeling is that the name Microsoft AJAX Library is completely wrong for the client side library. Many of us have developed a lot around the client side library and all the features of the library can hardly be described by "ajax" (hey, UpdatePanel wasn't always what it is today). The name itself makes it seems that Microsoft is dying to get on the ajax bandwagon all the while it has been at the forefront. Ignoring all and sticking to the facts AJAX is the wrong name since Atlas uses JSON rather than XML =)

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Shucks, I'm going to miss the Atlas name.


Scott: You can still affectionally call it "Atlas" and people will know what you mean. :-)


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Why not Microsoft AJAX Library for ASP.NET 2005? *Rolls eyes* Has anything changed? Will it ever? It's boggling to me that MS gets alot of recognition from codenames... then they throw all that recognition away. Was there anything preventing 'Atlas' from being the actual name? Product naming does not have to functionally describe the product. (Kudos to the Vista name.)

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You passed on an opportunity to expand the "Microsoft Windows Live" and "Windows ____ Foundation" brands? Well done, sir!

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News at 7: The fears were founded today when Microsoft took a perfectly good product name, gave it to marketing, and came up with a very lame replacement. Typical Microsoft.

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It will always be 'atlas' to me :)

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Do all the developers just die a little more inside everytime the naming police get done beating the ever living passion and life out any semi-cool sounding project name? Seriously, you guys do some awesome work but your ability to name anything *sucks*. Please for the love of humanity do NOT even attempt to name your children without outside help.

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Great naming couldn’t be straighter forward and so précis.