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A quick background and analogy. In developing some software we are naming various components. One component is effectively a log of completed and pending transactions. The nature of these transactions is a little complicated, so I'll use an analogy.

Think of them as recording yearly event awards from various award ceremonies, in that each transaction involves taking a completely unique item (e.g. best dressed 2020 by 'People Magazine') and assigning it out to an entity (like person x, or business y). These awards are non-transferable and as each is unique, it will never be re-assigned (instead you get best dressed 2021 next year). An award can later be revoked, but it can still never be reassigned. There are a few more nuances, but that's the gist.

Is this log of completed and pending transactions more accurately a ledger, a registry, or is there an even better word? EDIT: To clarify, this system is not recording financial transactions.

One more thing if it makes a difference. In keeping with the analogy, an entity who was successfully assigned an award, does not need to "accept it". If the person decides to publish their own awards, they can list just the ones they care about, and this "recording" would support their validity.

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    Just to clarify: despite the analogy to award shows, the actual use is financial transactions? Oct 22, 2021 at 12:36
  • Another question: are you look for end-user-facing language, or just for naming conventions to be used by developers? Oct 22, 2021 at 12:37
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    @Andy Not Financial transactions, and looking for end-user facing language. Oct 22, 2021 at 12:52
  • Then I definitely wouldn't use "ledger," and double down on my suggestion of the direct "transaction log." If the UX allows a user to "look up" a transaction, if it's indexed by parties involved, etc, then "Transaction registry" might be appropriate, but... there's a keep-it-simple virtue in UX. If we have to overthink it, the user will have to overthink to understand it. Even "Transactions" might be sufficient. Oct 22, 2021 at 12:56
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    Award recipients list
    – Jim
    Oct 22, 2021 at 13:35

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I'm not sure either word is strictly appropriate. (TLDR: I might suggest "transaction log.") Some of the definitions I find for "ledger" and "registry" are:

ledger: "a book that contains the financial records of a business," "a book [or comparable digital record] containing accounts to which debits and credits are posted from books of original entry," and "a book in which things are regularly recorded, especially business activities and money received or paid"

registry: "an official record book," "a collection of all the official records relating to something"

If your use isn't actually financial, ledger is perhaps too specialized a term, since it records financial activity. Also, there is more of a comprehensive sense of accounting than simply a list of transactions; it records "the accounts" of a person or business, usually with a running tally of the balance.

"Registry," on the other hand, is too broad. The dictionary definitions make it, really, any kind of record collection. I'm surprised that I didn't find this in the definitions, but I also associate it with a connotation of "indexing"; it's not merely a linear table of events like a ledger, but a 1-to-1 association of data (a vehicle registry associates a car with an owner). There's no inherent requirement that such a registration be permanent, though; you can transfer your car's registration to a new owner.

If the language is to be user-facing, "registration" is so generic as to be confusing. "Ledger" might be used as a whimsical comparison to an actual banking ledger, but would still be an odd choice. You say this is "a log of completed and pending transactions." What's wrong with the most direct, "transaction log"? I'm working on an app at the moment with two such logs, titled simply "Recent Activity" and "All Activity" (the context is such that all "activity" is transactional; otherwise this would be too vague).

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  • Log was an early pitch. It was decided against for two reasons. The first being that log didn't feel as it had the authoritative connotation we were looking for. We want this system to be a centralized authority. The second is that the naming is customer facing, and we wanted something more friendly than log. It's kind of a branding decision as well. Oct 22, 2021 at 12:56
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    It sounds like you have stakeholders with opinions about the UX. If you're looking to challenge them, rather than collecting opinions on SE it might be smart to do some actual consumer studies. I would still recommend being as direct as possible; something like "All Transactions" or "Transaction History." You could also go the whimsical route by metaphorically referencing a real-word phenomenon, like "Transactions HQ," but I'd steer away from the bank-book implications of "ledger." Oct 22, 2021 at 13:01
  • Thats great advice. Thank you! Oct 22, 2021 at 13:03
  • "Register" seems more appropriate than "ledger," which has a more numerical connotation (regardless of whether it's being used to record financial transactions). What else? "Inventory" - more of a stock/supply thing. If you dig shipping metaphors, use "manifest," which has a good sound to it.
    – cruthers
    Oct 22, 2021 at 15:35
  • One of the ideas here is that an award can be revoked, but not reassigned. In conventional usage, such as a land registry, a registry keeps track of associations (property, owner) that are expected to change. A log or a history is not expected to change.
    – user205876
    Oct 22, 2021 at 20:22

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