Code Fun - The Elf Name Generator


I have to start this off with a preface. A bit of an explanation as to what this is.

It all started with an app I was working on. It required people to specify a username. So when I finally connected the login API, ran the simulator, opened the app; I just sat there for a second. I was thinking…

What the hell should I use as my username?

For some reason (too much “holiday cheer?”) my mind wasn’t working. Then I thought back at how many times I was forced to come up with a username for a site or an app I used and I couldn’t think of anything.

I have my standard usernames, sure - but this one was context sensitive. This was a holiday-themed app, and therefore required something special.

Enter Donkeyhill Butterbottom

I found a quick little tutorial on Tuts+ (Quick Tip: How to Code a Simple Character Name Generator). With some simple modifications, I created a fun and effortless way to create a user account for my app.

The most time-consuming part of the whole process was coming up with all the words that would make-up these elf names. I’ll admit that I’m a surly bugger, and my demeanor doesn’t usually improve around the holidays, so I don’t usually get in the “mood.”

With some help of a few colleagues, I had my (ever-expanding) list.

My favourite so far is my current username, Donkeyhill Butterbottom. It still makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Why stop there?

At this point, I coded the signup form to generate the username each time the user entered an empty “username” input. I found that I was deleting the name and re-entering it over and over just to see the crazy names it would produce.

I’m too lazy to let that continue.

So I added a gesture event that detected a device shake. As the device shook beyond a defined threshold, an alertbox appeared with a new elf name. Brilliant.

Make it viral

The shake + alert box was all well and good. I was generating names like mad. People laughed. Some cried.

My girl enjoyed them a lot. Maybe in an unhealthy way.

So I naturally had to appease her humor by sending them to her constantly. To make this easier, I added a bit functionality to copy the name to the device clipboard instead of just dismissing the alert.

Now, you can dismiss AND copy. Shazam.

A simple paste in my Message app of choice and she’s happy.

Next steps

Before the onset of the 2015 holiday season, you can expect this app to finish.

In addition to what’s mentioned above, I’d like to…


Instant marketing strategy.

28 Jan 2015