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Author Topic: Proposal to rename SFML  (Read 1455 times)

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foo

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Proposal to rename SFML
« on: January 04, 2019, 08:35:08 pm »
This proposal may sound unintuitive to programmers especially those with a long history with SFML. Let me address that I have an eye for markets, user ecosystems, and social engagement. It's in my interest to contribute to SFML in other ways than code namely image and growth.

The Issue
To put frankly,
"Simple Fast Multimedia Library" is a misnomer to developers and this is bad for SFML because users have misinterpreted expectations that lead to disappointment and abandonment altogether. Why does this matter? With the exposure Hospin's Minecraft, rise in modern C++ interest, Microsoft's VS video tutorial using SFML demonstration to name a few, we'll see an influx of new users wanting to try out SFML. With more active users in the community, we can gain more contribution, which means faster progress at lesser effort from the maintainers. Green thumbs for everybody.

It's Not Simple!
From my internet scouting and discord monitoring, I've noticed users come to SFML for interesting reasons:
GUIs, cross platform system software, games. When they find out SFML doesn't have a specific features like default fonts, controller libs, and batch rendering out of the box they're surprised.

What I think has happened is that they are misinterpreting "Simple" in SFML as being a one-does-all experience. Not realizing that SFML is actually a lightweight collection of common application development modules and therefore will require work and code for advanced features. This demoralizes them and they may quit, running off into the arms of SDL2.

It's important to note that as any industry grows (software in this case), the barrier of entry must get smaller. This is because people expect things to come easy. If the implication is to be "simple", the new waves of coders expects their hand to be held. We can prevent this by not promising simplicity. We tell the coder (potential customer if you will), what they can expect from SFML that can be met every time.

It's Super Fast!
Change the name to "Super Fast Multimedia Library" because SFML is super fast for dev time, prototypes, graphics instantiation, and cross platform building. With this name change, we remove the implication that things are simple for new devs and now they cannot be disappointed resulting in a better and positive experience for them, retaining them as a happy user and contributing to the community.

This name change also keeps the well-known brand "SFML". Some copywrite (text) will need to be changed and in the end we keep the strong SFML lettering we recognize, keep the logo, and only change the long-form name. 

Sometimes something as effective as changing a slogan in business can have a huge effect on a product. This is no different.

In summary, change the name from "Simple Fast Multimedia Library" to "Super Fast Multimedia Library". Keep the brand name's iconic lettering "SFML" change only text on site and the docs over time. Form new user expectations that can be met with SFML as is, increase user experience, retain the user, more growth, more contributions, less work for maintainers.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 08:41:44 pm by foo »

FRex

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Re: Proposal to rename SFML
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2019, 09:51:34 pm »
SDL has Simple (and DirectMedia, I have no idea why) in its name too. Although SFML is kinda fast and convenient (SDL has only context creation and software blits, right?) I don't think renaming is worth it.
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Re: Proposal to rename SFML
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2019, 11:41:48 pm »
I've never seen people being really confused by the term "simple". Extrapolation of people assuming X being an issue with the wording of the library's name (while many will only know SFML by the term SFML) is rather far fetched.

The word "simple" can certainly be looked at from different angles, but the assumption that people will just associate it with "provides everything you ever want" is again a view I have not seen to be true.

SFML is not a game engine, nor a jack of all trades that does everything. Changing the name of the library won't change the people who just want other people to do all the work for them. And I'll claim that it also won't change anyone's expectation towards this, as they didn't come to SFML because of its name, but because of recommendations, mentions, feature lists, etc.

As for "Super Fast", I'm a bit puzzled how you didn't see what kind of expectation that naming builds up to. SFML isn't a super fast library, in other words, SFML isn't a high performance library. Sure you can argue that it should be viewed differently, on how fast it is to work with etc. but how is that any different from what we have right now with simple (besides "super fast" creating high expectation for performance)?
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Hapax

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Re: Proposal to rename SFML
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2019, 11:51:14 pm »
As I was reading your post, I was surprised that the best replacement for Simple was Super. As mentioned above, it's not super fast. Saying that it is would more likely to be misinterpreted as "performs better than everything else" than confusing the word "simple".

That said, assuming that "simple" could be replaced by something that would put forward an even more positive image, I would say that it would make more sense to change it to "safe" or "secure": Safe and Fast Multimedia Library.
Not that I'm agreeing with changing it. Just a discussion on the point.
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Re: Proposal to rename SFML
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2019, 10:28:52 am »
The word "simple" can certainly be looked at from different angles, but the assumption that people will just associate it with "provides everything you ever want" is again a view I have not seen to be true.

SFML is not a game engine, nor a jack of all trades that does everything. Changing the name of the library won't change the people who just want other people to do all the work for them. And I'll claim that it also won't change anyone's expectation towards this, as they didn't come to SFML because of its name, but because of recommendations, mentions, feature lists, etc.
This sums it up very well.

The main idea behind "simple" is "simple to use" (from an API perspective, learning curve, idiomatic C++), which should differentiate it from competitors which are often written in C or come with more archaic or low-level interfaces. SFML allows you to get started quickly and minimizes fighting with technicalities of the language or library. Furthermore, it can be seen as "simple to overview", as SFML has a limited but well-defined scope -- which would differentiate it from game engines which are more powerful, but also more complex by nature.


That said, assuming that "simple" could be replaced by something that would put forward an even more positive image, I would say that it would make more sense to change it to "safe" or "secure": Safe and Fast Multimedia Library.
I don't see any connection between SFML and security. Security is almost always understood in terms of network security, and SFML doesn't even provide such modules (that is, the HTTP/FTP clients it provides are on their own not secure).

"Safe" on the other hand can be interpreted as "prevents mistakes", in the C++ universe often manifested as memory safety. SFML is safe in the sense that it avoids manual fiddling with low-level ownership and memory management, but that's neither something special for a modern C++ library, nor something SFML is particularly focusing on.

I'm pretty sure calling SFML "safe" or "secure" would raise many more question that it answers, and definitely not be less confusing.
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Hapax

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Re: Proposal to rename SFML
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2019, 11:16:43 pm »
I agree.
I was thinking about the C++ (and soon-to-be modern C++) over C (SDL) difference but there is clearly any ambiguity with pretty much any word.

I tend to think of "simple" in SFML as the difference between the one-liner creation of a graphics window to its OS-based code, and that doesn't even account for its cross-platform ability.
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