How we named Prefix: It was a little hairy
Naming things is hard—unless it’s a dog or a kid. That’s easy (apparently)! A brand or product name is a totally different kind of anxiety. Creating the product is comparatively easy. This is the story of the name that almost won, how it came to be, and how it continues to live exactly where it should—in the dark recesses of our code.
Prefix was designed to run on a developer’s workstation to help them debug and find performance problems in their code. So, when we first started thinking of name ideas we had a few keywords that made logical sense, like trace, tail, stack, and tune. We took the familiar path of mashing keywords together to come up with names like Cleartrace, Apptail, Codetail, Ultrace, Apptune, Stack Watch and others. That’s almost never a great approach, but you always go there. We tried to be more conceptual too, with names like Pinpoint, Mizer, and CodeDo.
One of my personal favorites—though it didn’t make the final cut—was CodeDo. You know… it tells you what your “code do”! At least, I thought it was kind of funny. One of the other favorites of the group was Retrace. We thought it was a great name and did a job of describing what the product did. But since the product was more real time, we sort of felt like the word Retrace didn’t match up the real-timeness of the product (though it did find a home elsewhere so keep your eyes peeled).
It’s sort of a rule that new software or big upgrades need codenames. Who are we to defy tradition? So the story goes like this:
When we first got started on Prefix in December of 2015, we had no idea what to call it. One night I was laying in bed with my wife talking to her about all these naming ideas, what the product does, etc. I was describing to her how the product lets you watch everything that your code is doing. Her response was “So why don’t you call it Stack Watch? But that sort of sounds like Sasquatch!” It stuck.
Sasquatch was immediately a lot of fun around the office. We liked how it related to elusive, “hairy” application problems. To this day there are files within our code base called Sasquatch. You may have also noticed some easter eggs within the software of our unofficial mascot. 🙂
As we all know today, we ultimately decided to call the product Prefix. The goal of the product was to help developers find and fix application problems before they got to production, and the name just felt good to us.
The Prefix beta was launched as Sasquatch in January 2016. By our official lunch on Febuary 26, it was officially Prefix. As of July it is being used by almost ten thousand developers in over 115 countries!
Anyway, every team needs a mascot.
Founder & CEO / Stackify