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In startups, there's an unspoken rule that says that Marketing gets to change the product name up until the day the product ships. And they often do. Or if they don't the company changes its name or logo (often after engaging an expensive "image" consulting firm). I ran out of fingers when counting the times this has happened to projects I've been on.

To defend yourself against the chaos this inevitability can cause, follow these steps:

  • Use a consistent copyright in your source code. A consistent string is easy to change via a regex. To ensure that you're being consistent, write another script that periodically spiders your codebase looking for errant copyrights. If you're unclear about the importance of correct copyrights, ask your corporate lawyer, or someone in business development.

  • Avoid hard-coding either the product or the company name. Where possible, use resource files, or the platform equivalent, rather than embedding product or company names in strings.

  • Avoid hard-coding colors. If the corporate logo changes, there's usually a downstream change or two wherever the logo appears. Or, if you're really lucky, Marketing will engage the services of a usability guru, who will issue his report on Wednesday of the week the product ships, and you'll need to change a bunch of colors (at least). If you're using templates, put colors in a common style sheet.

  • If you're responsible for documentation that'll be visible externally, and are using a document editing tool that supports variables, use them for both the product name and the company name. This'll save you a lot of search and replace time.

If you work it right, you can accommodate company or name changes within a few hours, plus build time. If you don't work it right, you and the team have a very long evening ahead of you, probably while you're already in crunch mode.

In reply to Planning ahead for product name changes by dws

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