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the origin of the names “ironpython” and “ironruby”

wondered a while ago where the “Iron” names came from.

According to a NxtGenUG interview with Michael Foord, John Lam says that IRON can be reverse-engineered to stand for “It Runs On .Net”, which is cool, but I finally found the real story in an interview on the “Port 25: The Open Source Community at Microsoft” site, in which IronPython creator Jim Hugunin says:

I’ll give you the story, but I’ll give you the short version ’cause it’s not very good.

At the time, I had a consulting company called “Want of a Nail Software”. “Want of a Nail” is based on a children’s poem. It’s about the importance of small things. I’ve always kind of believed in the importance of small things. Part of the story of IronPython’s actual performance is it wasn’t one big thing – Everybody wants to know “What was the one big thing?” There were some big things, but most of it was all the small things – paying attention to performance in every place.

So, that was the consulting company and “Iron” seemed to match.

There were some obvious names: Python.Net, Python#, nPython – All of those were taken. All of the URLs for those were registered.

I didn’t want to reuse any of those names, so “Iron” was just kind of a name that appealed to me at a visceral level – I like the feeling of “IronPython”.

There’s a little bit of “Iron Chef” in it, although I’m always reluctant to admit that.

About the “Python” part: According to the Wikipedia article on Python:

An important goal of the Python developers is making Python fun to use. This is reflected in the origin of the name (based on the television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus), in the common practice of using Monty Python references in example code, and in an occasionally playful approach to tutorials and reference materials. For example, the metasyntactic variables often used in Python literature are “spam” and “eggs”, instead of the traditional “foo” and “bar”.

…and Wikipedia says this about the name “Ruby”:

“Ruby” was named as a gemstone because of a joke within Matsumoto’s circle of friends alluding to the name of the Perl programming language.

…which led me to the Perl article, where I discovered that it was originally named “Pearl”.

I think I’ll stop now before I digress into a rant about how “C#” is a cool name but J# and X# were doomed to failure not for technical reasons, but for musical ones (unless Microsoft has a much larger piano keyboard than I do).

This article is part of the GWB Archives. Original Author: Brian Schroer

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