3. Good project- and archive- naming practice

As the load on maintainers of archives like Metalab, the PSA site and CPAN increases, there is an increasing trend for submissions to be processed partly or wholly by programs (rather than entirely by a human).

This makes it more important for project and archive-file names to fit regular patterns that computer programs can parse and understand.

3.1. Use GNU-style names with a stem and major.minor.patch numbering.

It's helpful to everybody if your archive files all have GNU-like names -- all-lower-case alphanumeric stem prefix, followed by a dash, followed by a version number, extension, and other suffixes.

Let's suppose you have a project you call `foobar' at version 1, release 2, level 3. If it's got just one archive part (presumably the sources), here's what its names should look:


The source archive


The LSM file (assuming you're submitting to Metalab).

Please don't use these:


This looks to many programs like an archive for a project called`foobar123' with no version number.


This looks to many programs like an archive for a project called `foobar1' at version 2.3.


Many programs think this goes with a project called `foobar-v1'.


The underscore is hard for people to speak, type, and remember.


Unless you like looking like a marketing weenie. This is also hard for people to speak, type, and remember.

If you have to differentiate between source and binary archives, or between different kinds of binary, or express some kind of build option in the file name, please treat that as a file extension to go after the version number. That is, please do this:




binaries, type not specified


ELF binaries


ELF binaries statically linked


SPARC binaries

Please don't use names like `foobar-ELF-1.2.3.tar.gz', because programs have a hard time telling type infixes (like `-ELF') from the stem.

A good general form of name has these parts in order:

  1. project prefix

  2. dash

  3. version number

  4. dot

  5. "src" or "bin" (optional)

  6. dot or dash (dot preferred)

  7. binary type and options (optional)

  8. archiving and compression extensions

3.2. But respect local conventions where appropriate

Some projects and communities have well-defined conventions for names and version numbers that aren't necessarily compatible with the above advice. For instance, Apache modules are generally named like mod_foo, and have both their own version number and the version of Apache with which they work. Likewise, Perl modules have version numbers that can be treated as floating point numbers (e.g., you might see 1.303 rather than 1.3.3), and the distributions are generally named Foo-Bar-1.303.tar.gz for version 1.303 of module Foo::Bar. (Perl itself, on the other hand, switched to using the conventions described in this document in late 1999.)

Look for and respect the conventions of specialized communities and developers; for general use, follow the above guidelines.

3.3. Try hard to choose a name prefix that is unique and easy to type

The stem prefix should be common to all a project's files, and it should be easy to read, type, and remember. So please don't use underscores. And don't capitalize or BiCapitalize without extremely good reason -- it messes up the natural human-eyeball search order and looks like some marketing weenie trying to be clever.

It confuses people when two different projects have the same stem name. So try to check for collisions before your first release. Two good places to check are the index file of Metalab and the appindex at Freshmeat. Another good place to check is SourceForge; do a name search there.