Naming Toves

So what’s going on with the name “Toves”? After all, Logisim has built up solid name recognition over the years.

When I started it back in 2000, I didn’t put much thought into the name at all. I was simply interested in building the software for my students without any hope of the project going further. So I simply chose a functional name summarizing the purpose of the software. But I posted it in case somebody else would like the project, and as Logisim began being picked up by other schools, the software began becoming more sophisticated. But while I never really liked the name much, it was never time to split with it.

The name Logisim has some disadvantages. For one, a domain name isn’t available. Even on SourceForge, Logisim is filed under a different directory because a previous open-source Logisim project already existed. (It didn’t exist when I started Logisim, but my Logisim didn’t go to open-source and go onto SourceForge until much later.)

Besides, keeping the name Logisim could lead people to expect backward compatibility. But Toves is planned as a clean break: Several of the components will be designed with different appearances, incompatible with what appears in Logisim.

What’s more, if I kept the name Logisim, I was left wondering what to do with version numbering while Toves was in the middle of development.

So what’s behind the name “Toves”?

  • Since I was thinking that it would eventually have Verilog support, I decided to look for short words with the letter v in them. I knew I needed a rare word so that I had a ghost of chance of landing a domain name. So I looked through a dictionary, and Toves stood out.

  • Of course, anybody thinking of a tove is bound to think of Lewis Carroll’s books, and Lewis Carroll was himself a logician. A bonus: Carroll’s book contains some nice public-domain artwork depicting a tove, which I’ve reused liberally.

  • There is no other software package named toves, and the domain name was available.

  • I could come up with a tortured acronym that perhaps would apply some day:
    The Omnific Verilog-based Editor and Simulator.

  • Lots of open-source projects have a mascot. GNU has its gnu, Linux its penguin, GIMP its coyote, Firefox its firefox, Hadoop its elephant. But the tove has sadly been neglected.