Simon Harriyott

New industry standard for naming oojits

I'm working on a domain model at the moment, and I'm struggling to name a thing. A piece of text data can be one of three types; a label, a code or a group. The (C#) class to represent this is simple

public class TextData
    public string Data {get; set;}
    public TypeOfData DataType {get; set;}

Only thing is, I dislike the name of the second property. I named it badly for emphasis, but there are two problems:

Firstly, it isn't a data type, because data type means int or double or string or other such thing. Secondly, just calling something a type makes it sound like a .NET Type, so it is automatically ambiguous when coding, even if it is in the domain model.

So if we can't call anything a ‘type’, how about a ‘sort’. As in, “what sort of data is it?” Fairly obviously, sort usually means to arrange things in sequential order. What about ‘class’? Ahem.

Thesaurus time. Classification? Too long; too pompous. Breed? To animalish. Category? Hmm. Not sure why not, other than it sounds too big for this purpose. Genre? Also too big. Genus? Species? Again, animals. Kind?

Kind. I like that. It doesn't mean anything else in code. DataKind. That could work. Well, perhaps it wouldn't on a dating website, as it would also be an attribute of a potential date. Well, for me it would. Wouldn't want to date anyone unkind.

What else is there? Ilk. That's a nice word. Ilk. Yes, I like ilk. It isn't ambiguous in any way. It definitely means what I think it does. I don't often hear it used, and when I do, it generally pertains to people (men of that ilk). It sounds a bit odd, but I think that's good. It will stand out as meaning the type of thing, the sort of thing, the class of thing, the kind of thing, but without the ambiguity.

So, I propose Ilk as the new industry standard for the name of an informal classification of things. It may not sit well with you now, but if we start using it regularly and it becomes ubiquitous, then it will sound no less out of place than dongle, widget, mash-up, tweet, blogosphere and other words of that ilk.

Oh alright, so not blogosphere.

[Lively discussion encouraged]

10 February 2011