Why Is MidPoint Called “MidPoint”?

There are some questions asked by midPoint community, questions that go back to the early days of the project. MidPoint is ten years old, therefore this is appropriate time to have a look back. So, why is midPoint called “midPoint”?

It was early spring 2011. We were starting a new project. We knew what we wanted to do, we even had a bunch of code, but we did not have a name. It is known fact that naming things is incredibly hard. What name would you choose for new open source identity management system? We wanted something that would be quite short, as we didn’t want to write down long name over and over again. We wanted something that would describe the character or nature of the project. At the time there was a trend to name open source projects like OpenTLA or FreeFoo. That was not what we wanted. We were looking for a good, simple name.

We were thinking: what makes our project unique? Obviously, the code was open source. Yet, it was 2010s already, open source was everywhere. Is there anything else that sets us apart? At that time, identity management field was dominated by commercial software. The existing IDM platforms were usually bloated and complex things, riding high on marketing buzz, awkwardly integrated into technology “suites”. It took more than a week to install them, it took months or even years to make them work. On the other hand, our new project could be simply downloaded, deployed into a web container and it worked. How have we achieved this? What have we done differently than big corporations?

Our team was just a bunch of engineers back then. No marketing, no sales, just engineering, seasoned with a dash of management. Perhaps that was the key. Engineers are developing software for other engineers to use. That was something we could understand. That was a concept we could use, even with our amateur-level marketing skills. We though about good engineering practices, about the times when things were done properly, built to last. What were the things that could represent that? Drawing board, blueprint, pencil, ruler, square, compass … which led us to geometry. Maybe geometric terms would make a good project name? What about “Triangle”, “Cube”, “Rhombo-Hexagonal Dodecahedron” – no, definitely not that one! And then, there it was: “midpoint”. That was a perfect fit. Good, simple name. Perfectly appropriate for an identity management system, which sits in the middle, in the centre of everything. We have fashioned it with capital P as “midPoint”, to add some extra flair. And we were done. We have got a name for our project!

The “proper engineering” theme stuck. We have used it when we set up new company: Evolveum. The enginnering theme inspired our original logo. We tried to use the theme also on our first web page, which was not a huge success. But that is another story, for another blog post.

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