Sunday, April 20, 2008

You Say Tomato, I Say To-Mato

In the last week, I've had two separate editors at two separate companies make a bulk change in something I was working on. Specifically, they changed "plugin" to "plug-in". This is driving me a little bit crazy. Which is right? Should I care?

Quick research, designed to shore up my point of view...

Wikipdia has it as "plugin", with "plug-in" as an alternate. has it as "plug-in", although that's clearly an antiquated reference based on the definition ("capable of or designed for being connected to an electrical power source by plugging in or inserting"). Presumably this is where the editors are getting their style guides. The Pro Rails editors let me keep it as "plugin" -- I don't remember that being an issue.

More importantly, "plugin" is 100% preferred in the Rails community, I've never seen it go the other way. See here, here, or here. This is also mostly true in the Eclipse community.

Am I putting too much effort into this argument? Does this make any difference to anybody, or am I just crazy? To me, "plug-in" looks old timey and weird, like "base ball" or "e-mail", or something John Hodgman would throw in to make his writing seem off-kilter. If I see a Rails article that uses "plug-in", I assume that either the writer is off-the-charts persnickety or that the writer is not really in touch with Rails developers. (Perhaps not coincidentally, I'm always a little worried that I'll have some writing quirk that won't match the expectations of my audience.)

So? Which spelling do you prefer? And does it even matter to you?