How to find project names and names for software versions

Names for projects and names for software versions have one thing in common: They are needed regularly, but at long intervals. This means: it is known that a lot of names will be needed. It is not, however, known how many names it will be over the years, or what the exact characteristics of the projects or products will be.


Names for projects and names for software versions have one thing in common: They are needed regularly, but at long intervals. This means: it is known that a lot of names will be needed. It is not, however, known how many names it will be over the years, or what the exact characteristics of the projects or products will be.

How can you ensure that the naming process does not take up more time than is necessary? In this article we show how one can find countless project or version names with little effort.

What makes a project name or a version name?

The challenge of finding numerous project names is one which tends to affect companies which are too big to be classed as SMEs. The development departments usually need code names for new projects that are not yet ready for the public. On the one hand time should not be wasted unnecessarily on finding a name for the project. On the other hand, a succinct project name can lead to better acceptance in the team and can inspire motivation.


Similar comments apply to finding names for products which are regularly re-published, especially software. An original naming strategy for major releases facilitates communication with your customers because names are more memorable than boring version numbers.

For both types of names, the following requirements apply: Names for projects and software releases:

  • ...can be generated without great effort
  • ...are available in great numbers
  • ...ideally consist of a single word
  • ...are easy to pronounce
  • ...may be presented to the customer/end user

Methods for finding names for projects and software releases

So how do you find names that match the requirements specified? For example, with one of these three options:

Form Spoken Acronyms

A method that requires a little creativity is the formation of shortened names (acronyms). The full version of these names makes it clear what is at stake in the designated project. The abbreviation, however, is easy to say and forms a new word. Simple but brilliant!

The U.S. military makes great use of this method and has generated names such as Non-Ionizing Radiation Vision for A New Army – NIRVANA.

Translate functionality into Greek or Latin

An equally simple naming method, especially for project names, is a simple translation. If the project can be summarized in one word, it is worthwhile to try running this concept through various translation programs and looking out for exotic translations. The Greek and Latin languages are particularly suitable, but why not try Swahili or Welsh?

Incidentally, the NameRobot languages tool can translate in over 20 languages with a single click. Practical!

Work from lists of names

Those who want to play it safe, do not create new names, but look back on existing ones which have been used in a different context. Popular categories include:

  • figures from Greek or Roman mythology
  • famous people
  • states or cities
  • TV characters

This type of name is particularly well suited to software releases, but projects can also be named internally, quickly and efficiently in this way. Simply select a subject and put together a list of names - or research appropriate name ideas on Wikipedia.

Those who want to be particularly creative can combine two different kinds of lists together to generate names such as Trembling Tortoise (Linux-Kernel). The company Google also takes an individual approach, it uses the names of sweet treats for each of its versions of Android – from Doughnut to Jelly Bean. As you can see, there are virtually no limits to what topics and areas can be as a basis for project or version name.

Examples of ongoing names

To gain inspiration for a project or release name, we recommend that you take a look at the big players in the industry. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Linux, the military of various countries and many more. They all need to assign names to their projects and versions on a regular basis. We have collected some of their names here:

Have you ever been looking for a project or version name? Tell us what you have learnt from it.

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