Getting a name wrong.

We’re having a bit of a reflection period at the Etherpad foundation lately. A big issue for all of us is the name “Etherpad Lite”. We really messed that up. Etherpad Lite isn’t Light for the users, Etherpad Lite is light for the admin and the business’ bottom line.

We made the code base 80% lighter, the application requirements 80% lighter, the system requirements 80% lighter but we kept the majority of the functionality.. In fact, we introduced more via an API. More potential for developers.. We also made it wayyyy easier for developers to get started as we reduced the whole 3 language stack(scala, java, javascript) down to just one language.

So why Lite and why not V2?
We didn’t want to upset any foundation members. We knew we had a bunch of talented Java guys we didn’t want to upset and lose so we took the 1/2 cocked descision and tried to keep everyone happy. In hindsight, this was a terrible mistake. We are now 100% sure that the pure JS approach is the future, adoptions are up, performance is up, all of the indicators the foundation committed to from day one are showing positive signs.

We’re a family focused on making the collaborative web better. A group of people made this call and the same group of people are committed to finding a good solution.

Like any organization or individual we know that we have to correct our mistake so we’re on the hunt for a better name for Etherpad Lite.

A consideration is “LinePad” which would stand for Lite Is Not Ether.. Pad…
Another consideration is NodePad, also Etherpad V2, also Etherpad N (N for Node), also Etherpad JS…

So many choices, how do we make the right one?

18 thoughts

  1. This discussion is…BOLLOCKS. You have a great thing going. Don’t get messed up by politics. We love “Etherpad lite”. Because it is “light” and easy – on our admin, moderators and users. Thanks for delivering a “heavy duty” tool. And making it very “lite”.

  2. Etherpad was tough to install and maintain, and even harder to hack on. I agree that Etherpad Lite doesn’t make it sound a lot better. Personally, I had no desire to even look at the Lite version, having had my share of bad experiences with the former, until I saw a mention of NodeJS.

    That said, since the foundation is currently called Etherpad, not stripping the product completely of its old identity is more balanced. Even if admins find it painful to handle, users have always loved it.

    I suppose it’s time to move away from Etherpad, on to something new. If the idea is to give the product a new identity without completely disconnecting from the origin, it’s a smart move to mash up Etherpad and NodeJS. Node is awesome and loved by all. How about EtherJS?

    • Anonymous says:

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  3. I would ask… is anyone still hacking on the original Etherpad? If we-the-community generally accept that the node.js codebase is the way of the future, and the AppJet/Java/Scala implementation is soon-to-be EOL for lack of love, then just call it Etherpad. Call it a merger and bump the major version number: Etherpad 2.0. That would help converge the community; 1.1 users will eventually ‘upgrade’ to 2.0. The README.md for Etherpad already deprecates itself in favor of Lite.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am currently on holiday away from work with no access to any internet enabled devices.

      Please forward any Technical support queries to adammc@primaryt.co.uk
      Please forward any installation/projector maintinance/av queries to dally@primaryt.co.uk
      Please forward any other service queries to josh@primaryt.co.uk

      For all urgent enquiries use contact@primaryt.co.uk
      This email and its attachments may be confidential and are intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the organisation from which this email originated. If you are not the intended recipient of this email and its attachments, you must take no action based upon them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone. Please contact the sender if you believe you have received this email in error. This email was sent by School Email – Safe Webmail and Hosted Email for Schools

    • johnmclear says:

      I am currently on holiday away from work with no access to any internet enabled devices.

      Please forward any Technical support queries to adammc@primaryt.co.uk
      Please forward any installation/projector maintinance/av queries to dally@primaryt.co.uk
      Please forward any other service queries to josh@primaryt.co.uk

      For all urgent enquiries use contact@primaryt.co.uk
      This email and its attachments may be confidential and are intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the organisation from which this email originated. If you are not the intended recipient of this email and its attachments, you must take no action based upon them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone. Please contact the sender if you believe you have received this email in error. This email was sent by School Email – Safe Webmail and Hosted Email for Schools

  4. Elias Lecomte says:

    It’s great, Etherpad Lite! But naming the old etherpad, etherpad Full (in download section), is true, not a good idea.

  5. Mike Brantjes says:

    Hi Guys, Happy user here… Personally I think Pad has taken a whole new meaning as in Tablet lately so take the opportunity to do a good rethink….The ‘Ether’ part is nice, it has connotations of volatility and quickness
    You can either choose a product-focussed slant for your naming (Its a Pad, A Noteblock etc), How it works (JS, Lite, etc) Or what is does for users, the benefit it brings (Co-editor, etc). You may do well to focus on the latter if you choose the name to serve usage instead of the programmers.

  6. Do keep the Etherpad name, but fix the postfix (Lite, Full). Everybody know the name Etherpad, most people don’t know the difference between “Lite” or “Full”, so you can safely change those.

    Some ideas on how to change the endings:

    * Lite => Etherpad Live
    * Full => Etherpad Server

  7. This *is* a tricky problem. The number one rule of marketing is: don’t f*** with the brand. As difficult as it may be to swallow: it *might* be best to stick with “Etherpad Lite” – the project *has* had success with that name as far as I can tell. Changing the name is usually pretty jarring, even when the old name doesn’t make that much sense. I’m pretty sure “Carphone Warehouse” here in the UK are doing pretty well despite car phones not being a thing any more – people learn to disassociate company names from alternate meanings pretty quickly.

    However: it is really rather unfortunate that “Lite” implies that users are getting something less than they would with just plain old “Etherpad”. If the best thing in the long-run would be to change the name, it really needs to be changed sooner rather than later – and the name change widely publicised.

    As for name choices: I think it would be a mistake to include the names or references to technologies in the name (e.g. “NodePad”); a re-write in erlang 5 years down the road would leave you with problems similar to those you have now.

    I also think it would be a good idea to keep “Etherpad” in the name; “LinePad” sounds like and installation of Etherpad to me; like PiratePad or PrimaryPad.

    Developer emotions aside: the absolute best names are along the lines of “Etherpad 2” (or “Etherpad V2”, “Etherpad 2.0” etc – but that’s just formatting) or “Etherpad $qualifier”, where $qualifier is something that implies improvement – like “Plus”. They, IMO, are the only names that imply that the software is an improvement over (and a replacement for) Etherpad which, if I understand you correctly, is what you want.

    If you are sure that the “pure JS” approach is best then the foundation needs to focus its efforts on that. It’s always nice to consider people’s emotions, but any developer who refuses to adapt is a developer you could probably do without.

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