Having Fun with Codenames

Mikhail Kropotov

Developers work hard. So to keep our creative juices flowing, sometimes we need to entertain ourselves and take our mind off work. One way we do this at JetBrains is by having fun with codenames for future product releases. Here are some of the hilarious and weird ways our products get their codenames.

Godly intelligence

Now over 11 years on the market, our flagship IDE IntelliJ IDEA has carried a lot of goddesses’ names like Stella, Vista, Pandora, Ariadna, Aurora, Pallada, Irida, Demetra, Selena, Diana, Maia, Nika, and the most recent Leda. By the way, if some of these names look misspelled to you, keep in mind that most of the developers are Russian. So cut us some slack, will you? 🙂

Keeping it human

From day one, our bug tracker YouTrack has focused on human traits, qualities and emotions. Its alpha version was called Charisma for a long time, before we realized the name was unavailable commercially. After it finally shipped as YouTrack, the codenames followed alphabetically: Daring, Energy, and most recently Fascination. Will the next release be dubbed Generosity? Grotesque? Grandeur? We’ll find out soon enough.

Art history course, anyone?

The team behind our .NET profiler dotTrace is chock full of classical art aficionados. Their releases are named after Italian architects and sculptors, also in alphabetical order: Arabella, Bernini, Canova, and Donatello. What’s more, the splash screens for all minor versions of dotTrace are designed based on these artists’ works. Who would have thought, right?

The proverbial islands

As Project Kotlin began to take shape, we thought it would be fitting to name it after an island. You know, what with Java and all. Well, we didn’t have to look far: St. Petersburg, Russia, where our R&D lab is located, includes at least 33 islands that have unique names (and who knows how many others). For something easier to pronounce though, we considered Kotlin, an island 32 km west of the city in the Baltic Sea, housing the fortified town of Kronstadt. And there we have it!

Denizens of the forest

The RubyMine team has only recently started using codenames. The current v4.5 is called Nire, which is Japanese for ‘elm.’ The one before, Tōhi, stood for ‘fir tree’ or ‘spruce.’ While breaking the alphabetical mold, the team is doing one better: they’re using exactly the same number of letters as the version number! Time will show how long they can keep it up.

And then there’s always geography

TeamCity’s naming tradition is based on Indian cities and so far includes: Agra, Benares, Calcutta, Darjeeling, Eluru, and Faradi. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, with an alphabetical method your first letter is a given, but some letters really challenged the developers.

To find a name starting with F that was easy to pronounce, last year the poor developers had to whip out their geographical atlases, maps and even Google Earth. As the team focused on their research, a strange email came through that really took them by surprise. An Indian college offered to buy any number of TeamCity licenses if only we named the next release Falna – the Indian city where this college was located. Apparently, they had figured out our codenaming method for this product and really wanted the publicity!

Understanding came suddenly: it was April Fools’ Day! The only thing they could never figure out is whether the joker was someone on the team or an outsider.

Share your stories too!

So, what fun codenames or naming methods have you come across? We’d love to hear about them!

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9 Responses to Having Fun with Codenames

  1. Rysio says:

    September 25, 2012

    I used names of Metallica’s concerts f.e. “Bang that head that doesn’t bang” 🙂

    • obfuscator says:

      October 3, 2012

      That’s a long name! But it’s definitely unique.

  2. Working Out On Your Terms While Having Fun | Original Stage Magazine says:

    October 1, 2012

    […] be physically active as often as possible. So just have fun and think of all the things you can do.If you are looking for a good work out activity, then do something you like and enjoy so you will no…and lie to you by saying it's all easy to do. If you need to have variety with what you do, then […]

  3. RubyMine Enoki Early Access: RubyMotion is on Board | JetBrains RubyMine Blog says:

    October 24, 2012

    […] The last few weeks we’ve been working hard to open the Early Access Program for the next major RubyMine version. The wait is over: please welcome RubyMine Enoki EAP! By the way, ’Enoki’ is Japanese for hackberry (a kind of tree), in line with our codenaming tradition. […]

  4. Of Big Eyes, Birds, Bugs and Charisma | JetBrains Company Blog says:

    February 14, 2013

    […] did not vanish into obscurity. It eventually played a role in kicking off a cool line of product codenames that focused on human traits, qualities and emotions. YouTrack’s codenames are ordered […]

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    February 26, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next write ups thanks once

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  7. RubyMine Ichii Early Access is Open | JetBrains RubyMine Blog says:

    March 26, 2013

    […] Less then two months have passed since RubyMine 5 was released. Hopefully you have tried it and hopefully you like it. But the life goes on and we don’t want to lag behind, so we’ve decided to make the next RubyMine release shortly. Today we’re glad to announce the RubyMine Ichii EAP! By the way, ’Ichii’ is Japanese for yew (a kind of tree), in line with our codenaming tradition. […]

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