We are building a software system that maintains a collection of participating entities, and I'm trying to determine if it is more appropriately termed a registry or a directory.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about technical language, not general English. – DJClayworth Jun 14 '18 at 16:15
  • @DJClayworth - but doesn't technical language come from general english? I'm coming from a software development background and I can tell you that most concepts or terminologies come from general english definitions. – Jeremy Jun 14 '18 at 21:34
  • @djclayworth The OP asks about the meaning in general English, not technical, so I would say the question is fine. – Oliver Mason Jun 14 '18 at 21:49

From various dictionary definitions it is not easy to distinguish between the two. From current usage I would say it is as follows:

  1. A registry is an official record keeping institution, such as the UK Land Registry. Ownership of all land in the UK is registered there. Unless you are in there, it might be hard/impossible to prove that you own a piece of land.
  2. A directory is a collection, which does not need to be either official or comprehensive, such as the telephone directory. You can happily make and receive phone calls, whether you are in the directory or not.

If the participating entities enter the collection voluntarily, and can operate without doing so, I would suggest you use directory; a registry would require them to be part of it.

However, despite its name, use of the Windows Registry is not mandatory for applications.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.