Flash goes the NameVoyager

Mar 12th 2010

If you click over to the NameVoyager today, you might notice something a wee bit different. At least, the techies amongst you will. The original NameVoyager was a Java applet, a technology that sadly isn't supported well by a lot of today's browsers. I decided it was time for a do-over, in the more widely supported Flash format. (Yeah, I know, those new little Apple gizmos won't support Flash. Or Java, or any format that we could possibly build a NameVoyager in. Such is life.)

I wasn't willing to make the switch until we could get it absolutely right, preserving the NameVoyager's unique magic. It took a heroic effort -- Flash really isn't designed to crunch through the volume of data that the NameVoyager throws at it. I think we got there, though: see for yourself. And if you agree, go and tell all those people who said they wanted to look at the cool name graph you talked about but all they got was a little red X!



March 12, 2010 3:19 PM

i use a Mac and it works for me! unless you meant the "little" ones like iPhone?

By Guest
March 12, 2010 3:27 PM

Oh no. I'm so, so, so sorry you had to do this to the wonderful name voyager. Flash is a known disastrous memory hog. It takes forever to load and slows down everything on one's computer. It's a travesty that the net has become so reliant on it. If something uses Flash, I generally steer clear. :/ I didn't realize Java was so unsupported! It was faster and clearer for me.


This is a loss! I hope something else faster becomes better-supported soon! Good luck!

Achh, I closed the Voyager window a minute or two ago and my computer is still recovering.

March 12, 2010 3:28 PM

Yep, Macs should be fine -- it's just the iPhone and its spinoffs that have rejected Flash.

March 12, 2010 4:06 PM

FWIW, on my mac, it's much faster to load and less quirky on entering names than the old version

By Guest
March 12, 2010 4:11 PM

I love the name voyager, but it's contributing to my stress about my baby girl's name. :) If any NEs are out there who would like to try to talk me down, I'd love to hear it!

DH and I agreed on Lillian M@rgaret. Both names have significance to us, and the 1st is a family name (and I already got to use my grandma's name on our oldest so he wants to use his which is totally fair!) so it has to stay the first name. I love the name, I really do.

My problem is that I am having a hard time getting over the emotional hump of how popular Lily/Lillian is. I gravitate to that style of name and I think it's gorgeous but it seems like half the people I know are using Lily for their baby and it's making me a bit nuts. I'd even be fine with it if I could come up with a unique nickname, but it seems like Lily is the only option for Lillian that I can find. (I'd love to call her M@ggie but like I said, the 1st name has to be the first name or cause marital strife ;-))

So anyway, ideas or just plain "calm down it's not so bad" input would be welcomed. You NEs all rock. :)


March 12, 2010 4:24 PM

Not sure if these are much help, but Lila, Lia, L, Nia, Ian, Illy... lol I am really stretching here... perhaps if quirky appeals to you. Trying to think of NNs that combine the first and middle, but not coming up with anything...

By knp
March 12, 2010 4:25 PM

Leah: why not Leann for a nn (I know a Leann whose nn is Leannie sp? said lee-ANN-ee)? (pretty close to Leah though..) Or Lil, Anna, Ann, Annie, Lina, I was going to say Lia (lee-ah) but that is your name!

You can also lengthen for a nn--
Lil-chen (German diminutive)
Lill-ina (lil-een-a)
Lillita (hmm, I know i'm getting creative, but I'm liking some of the last options. And I think nn's are where you CAN be creative!)

you are right, it isn't the end of the world to have a popular name, maybe there won't be many in the area you are in (maybe you are just noticing it now because you're focused on it??)

March 12, 2010 4:28 PM


You could try Lila or Leila -- Laura thinks the long I sound is the rising sound of the future and there was a spate of celebrities who chose similar sounding names in the fall. And of course, there's the "name of the future" Ily. :)

And FWIW, my ex-husband and I could only agree on one name when DD was born 12 years ago -- having been a Jennifer, I felt that Isabel was Jennifer of this generation... A lot of NEs are predicting that Isabella will be #1 this year... But my daughter Isabel (nn Izzy by her choosing) is unique and special regardless of how "overused" the name may be.


By knp
March 12, 2010 4:31 PM

Lillian is a great name by the way-- and I somehow see it as different than Lily (like I see Laura and Lauren differently).

By Guest
March 12, 2010 4:38 PM

I knew you all would have brilliant ideas - some of these are already totally helping! Lila and Lilchen (we have a lot of German heritage and visit there a regularly so that is cute in a lot of ways) might really help me out immensely!! It's funny, it's like a really really nerdy horror movie - what if a name enthusiast HAS to use a popular name? DOOM! ;-)

I'm totally up for hearing more thoughts on this issue, but wanted to pop in and say that you all are already helping me de-stress about it!


March 12, 2010 4:42 PM

i'm of the school of thought that if you love a particular name, it's not the end of the world if it is popular. for what it's worth, i think lillian and lily are both gorgeous and elegant.

By Guest
March 12, 2010 4:46 PM

Like Guest (#2), I'm disappointed about the change. My computer is 3 years old and can't handle NameVoyager nearly as good as it used to. It really slowed down (and almost locked up) my computer when I tried it.

By Guest
March 12, 2010 4:56 PM


last year my husband and I decided to go with Lily as the name for our second daughter, despite it's popularity. Our older daughter (3) started calling her lih'-lah and it stuck as a nickname. Maybe your older girl will have a unique name for her new sister too!

March 12, 2010 5:06 PM

Leah- I am also of the camp that if you love a name you should use it. Lily/Lillian is popular, but you have to remember that the popularity of todays top names does not compare to the popularity of names of the past. A good example is Jessica, being number one in 1990 accounted for around 46,000 births while the 2008 number one name Emma was given to 18,000 babies. Just something to keep in mind. I do like Lillian a lot, and think it that if she ever feels like there are too many Lily's around she could always use Lillian.

March 12, 2010 5:10 PM

Whoops, double post :)

March 12, 2010 5:20 PM

Sorry to interrupt the Lillian discussion :-)

I've now heard from a bunch of people that the new NameVoyager runs much faster for them than the old version, and from others that it's slowing their computer to a crawl. I did test on Mac, Vista and Linux setups and didn't hit anything nasty....

I'd love to get more info on your operating systems and browsers, to see if we can pinpoint any problems. If you could drop me a line, either here or clicking the contact link at the bottom of the page, I'd be most grateful!


By Bue
March 12, 2010 5:32 PM

Laura, I'm using Safari on an iMac and it's much faster. As someone noted up thread it was always a little "quirky" when you tried to enter a name and that's been solved.

Leah, one of my close friends is called Lillian (in 1980 that was a REALLY weird baby name choice!) and we have always called her Lill. Sounds a bit like a 70 year old now that I think about it, but it doesn't seem like it on her. Mainly she goes by the full name Lillian, though.

By saree (not verified)
March 12, 2010 5:46 PM

Lilou is the French nickname for Liliane!

By Qwen
March 12, 2010 6:04 PM

I LOVE the new Voyager. The computer at my office was always fussy about the old version but has no problems at all with the new one. It's fast and easy to use. ALSO, I really like how the new one 'morphs' the graph as you narrow things down. It's kinda cute.

March 12, 2010 6:05 PM

@ Leah: I have a friend named Lillian who always goes by Lily. I agree with others that if you really like a name it doesn't matter how popular it is. I say go for Lillian! As others said there are other nn options as well.

By Guest
March 12, 2010 6:30 PM

@Leah: I have a cousin who has always gone by Lili, pronounced Lee-Lee. It's a little cutesy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing on a little girl.

Also, this might be too close to "Lillian" to count as a TRUE nickname, but I know of a Lillen (pron. LIL-inn); always thought that was really pretty.

March 12, 2010 6:58 PM

Leah, I think Lillian Margaret is heartbreakingly gorgeous, and that fact that she will have a family connection to it makes it that much nicer. I wouldn't let popularity deter you! Besides, I know popularity can vary a lot based on location, but in my area it hasn't particularly taken off.

Laura, I also like the new Name Voyager. I'm another one using Safari on a Mac, and it's loading much faster than before.

By Guest
March 12, 2010 7:04 PM

There's always Lil for a nickname. I know a girl named Lillia; maybe you can convince your husband to use that instead of Lillian.

By Guest
March 12, 2010 7:06 PM

While you're at it, can you PLEASE fix the scrolling problem?

By Guest
March 12, 2010 7:11 PM

Name spotting --

There's a boy at my daughter's school whose first name is ROWDY.

The last name is FARMER.

A very macho name!

By Guest
March 12, 2010 7:41 PM

You should definitely use Lillian. I love the nickname suggestions of Lia and Lilou and Lilchen. However, can I just point out that Lily is pretty popular on its own, so I'm guessing a lot of the little baby Lillians were named Lillian just so that the parents could call them Lily but still name them something less popular (or more formal) than Lily. So I'm guessing few of them go by straight-up Lillian. If yours does, she might really stand out.

Plus, as Becky pointed out, "popular" today isn't what it used to be!

By Guest
March 12, 2010 7:42 PM

Hmmm... it didn't give me a chance to sign in. I'm kinda too lazy to investigate why, but anyone know if it's my computer or the site?

By Qwen
March 12, 2010 8:03 PM

It's the site. You have to actually sign in up top or you can't have any other name beside "guest".

By Jennie NLI (not verified)
March 12, 2010 8:14 PM

I think the "guest" comment issue is fixed now...

By Guest
March 12, 2010 8:18 PM

So I'm somewhat useful and not exclusively hijacking - the new Name Voyager is working totally fine for me on Windows XP and Firefox 3.5.

You guys rock my socks! Here in IL, Lily/Lillian is more popular than most other places it looks like. I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that overall Lillian is #33 and Lily is #22, which combines to be fairly significantly popular when my usual preference is to be out of the top 100. But I simply adore the idea of just changing the nickname - especially since it's similar to what we did with our older daughter. She is D0rothy, nn D0rie - and we had wanted to do D0ra but decided to avoid the cartoon-similarity issues by changing it. So thanks so much for the alternative ideas.

Right now I'm leaning Lila-ward but who knows I might find something even better with all these awesome suggestions. Thanks so much again!


March 12, 2010 8:26 PM

super-impressed with the Name Voyager's flashy new interface. nice! much speedier on my vista-running, firefox 3.6 'puter (yeah, yeah, i use vista...). the Java applet was getting very glitchy for me, this is a definite improvement. and very technically impressive.

@Leah- Lilias, a scottish version of Lilian, is also quite lovely. I know a little Lily who is known as Lia, but I guess that's out of the question! Lilou's very sweet too.

March 12, 2010 8:42 PM

"While you're at it, can you PLEASE fix the scrolling problem?"

The scrolling problem must be a browser/system-specific issue, nobody on the BNW team with our diverse computers can see it. Can you give me some details?

It's kind of sad -- I built my first website back in 1995, and back then we all eagerly awaited the day, oh-so soon, that cross-platform compatibility would be a non-issue. Now in 2010, it's worse than ever.

By Tirzah, not logged in (not verified)
March 12, 2010 9:07 PM

Re scrolling, I have IE7 on Windows XP Professional and Vista. On both computers, moving the scroll bar on the right or rolling the scroll wheel results in a noticable delay and then a jumping of the screen up or down. If I turn the wheel a significant amount, the screen will pause and then jump pause jump pause jump pause jump downward in succession.

On other sites, the screen will scroll in realtime with the dragging of the bar or the rolling of the wheel.

By Kristin W. (not verified)
March 12, 2010 9:08 PM

I'm excited about the new Name Voyager, because now I can actually view it in Firefox 3.6! It would always freeze up my browser if I tried to view it before, so I learned to open up Internet Explorer if I wanted to view it, but I hate IE, so this is great news for me!

It does seem a little slower than before, though. It won't let me just type in a whole name. It pauses after each letter to show me the results for the letters so far. For example, with Frances, F-pause, Fr-pause, Fran-pause and so on.

But I'm just happy to be able to see it at all in Firefox!

By Amy3 (nli) (not verified)
March 12, 2010 9:46 PM

@Laura, love the new NameVoyager. It works well for me at home on my MacBook running Safari. On Monday I can try it out at work on a PC running IE7. (And I do experience the hitchy scrolling problem in the IE7 environment, but it's not an issue in Safari.)

@Leah, I agree that if your Lillian happens to go by "just Lillian" she may stand out from all the Lilys. It's my guess that most Lillians were given that name to get to the Lily nn. But if you do want a non-Lily nn, you've gotten lots of great suggestions. I particularly like Lilou. That's just adorable, and wasn't it the name of the daughter of one of the French skiers at the Olympics?

By Amy3
March 12, 2010 9:48 PM

Oh, and at work, where I experience the scrolling problem, we're using the XP OS, but I don't remember the scrolling being a problem until we moved to IE7.

By neil (not verified)
March 12, 2010 9:48 PM

Very nice. It must have taken an enormous amount of effort to port the java version to flash.

Performance is fine for me a OS X. Slower than a native app, obviously, but reasonable and in line with other flash apps.

Are you going to make an iPhone app?

Oh, and I still want the option of having soundex on the input match soundex on the index. Typing either "Jon" or "John", or either "Aiden" or "Aidan" should include both in the results. How else am I supposed to make a clear graph of "Neil"'s obvious supremacy?

By neil (not verified)
March 12, 2010 9:55 PM

For folks who have scrolling issues, your video card's driver is probably either out of date, or not installed. Scrolling flash should be fast on IE on Windows if your video card is set up right.

Compare scrolling the Name Voyager with scrolling a movie on youtube (which is also Flash).

By Amy3
March 12, 2010 10:13 PM

Just to be clear, the scrolling problem that I have on my work machine is with the blog, not NameVoyager.

March 12, 2010 10:14 PM

I have Firefox 3.6 and am having the same problem as Kristin W.

After every letter I type, it draws new graphs and then won't let me type the next letter. I have to click in the text box after each letter: "J . . . click . . . A . . . click . . . M . . . click, etc." Sometimes, I can get two letters in if I type them quickly.

Other than that, it seems to be loading and running quickly. Thanks for working hard to improve the NameVoyager! I recommend it to people all the time.

By Guest (not verified)
March 12, 2010 11:29 PM

My grandmother's given name was Lillian, but she was known as Lucy her whole life.

By knp
March 12, 2010 11:30 PM

While surfing Name Voyager (fun!) I noted a name I'd never seen before: Versie (g), and Vernie (a true androgynous name with very similar ups and downs and almost equal numbers!) In the early 1900's there was a huge love of the Ver- start!! From the similarity of Virginia maybe???

I'm checking out the V's obviously (which I'm also a fan of!). Especially since Name Candy posted about that Vienna on the bachelor. Which is just helping me acknowledge that my favorite name is going to probably skyrocket in the 2010 stats. :( Just found Viola as an alternative though. I doubt hubby will like it though.

(I've never had problems scrolling, and see the 'click' in Name voyager.
Oh, but Laura, when I put in first letter V and last letter A on your homepage, it gave me all names starting with V and ignored my other parameters)

By EVie
March 13, 2010 12:07 AM

The new Name Voyager is working fine for me (running Safari on Mac OSX 10.6.2). It looks like there's something different with the way it's displaying the numbers, too... can't remember exactly what it was like before, but I think it's easier to read now.

I've never had scrolling problems with Safari, but I had major issues when I used to read BNW at work on a Windows machine running IE (can't remember which version). Yes, I admit it, I used to read BNW sometimes when I should have been working... hated that job. I would recommend that anyone having trouble try a different browser.

By Nina
March 13, 2010 12:41 AM

I have an aunt whose name is Lilian, everyone calls her Lil (pronounced something like Leel). We are not English speaking though.

By TamaraR (not verified)
March 13, 2010 12:42 AM

Sorry to hear other people are having problems, but I'm just thrilled to be able to see it again. I've been reading usually from a PC w/ firefox (3.5.8) that must not support java b/c voyager would never load for me at all, and now it works!

By Qwen
March 13, 2010 1:45 AM

I'm watching the season premiere of ANTM tonight and had to share some of the names I saw:


March 13, 2010 7:20 AM

I'm using Chrome on XP. I find that the display is a bit jumpy, it definitely isn't cycling through the displays smoothly, but even if it doesn't display the letters when I keep typing in the name, they still register, if that makes sense. I then have to wait for the animation to catch up with me as it moves through each letter. It works fine, although it was faster for me before the change.

March 13, 2010 8:36 AM

To everybody experiencing the mysterious scrolling problem -- it looks like you're all using IE7 and a scroll wheel on a mouse, is that right? It seems there is a known issue with that combo, and adjusting your mouse settings may help. I found this suggested fix on a tech forum:

Start > Control Panel > Mouse.

Choose the Buttons tab.

For "Scroller", set to the following:
-Check the box labeled "Use MS Office compatible scroll only."
-Check the box labeled "Scroll in active window only."

Hope that helps!

By Eo (not verified)
March 13, 2010 9:34 AM

Leah-- The Lillian nicknames suggested are great! We did the same thing with our son-- for several reasons, we had to give him a popular, traditional name, but we derived from it an unexpected, but clearly related nickname that sets him apart.

I might go even farther afield for Lillian nicknames-- botanical: "Lichen", or breezy:
"Lane"/"Laney". Lots of options...

Another example of a popular name that could be personalized with an unusual nickname: "Alexander".

Instead of the expected Alex, Alec, Xander/Zander, Sasha, etc., I would go back centuries and adopt the medieval nickname for "Adam"--- "Adkin"

Have always thought Adkin adorable, and it could be a nickname for Adam, my Biblical fave "Adoniram", or, voila, Alexander! It takes the "A" and the "d" from Alexander, and adds the medieval diminutive, "kin".

I got lost in the previous thread with its reverse numbering, etc! But wondered if during the discussion of "Mercy", anyone mentioned the most famous historical Mercy-- Mercy Otis Warren?

Born: 1728. She was an author who wrote anti-Loyalist plays and other works during Revolutionary period in America. Friend of John Adams, George Washington, Patrick Henry, etc.

Wrote "The History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution".

Very important figure-- there was even a navy ship named after her, the SS Mercy Warren.

Anyway, what a neat namesake for a modern little "Mercy"...

By Eo (not verified)
March 13, 2010 9:38 AM

Or would little Mercy be HER, Mrs. Warren's, namesake, rather than the other way around? I'm getting my terminology reversed, probably, and don't have time to look it up!