Right on the npm website, the very first sentence starts with "npm", and they do not capitalize it.
That's a pretty good precedent for not capitalizing it. It certainly looks awkward though, which is why I asked the question to begin with. It doesn't feel right to me to start a sentence that way, and I'm sure other some other people would look at it and see a mistake.
Straight from Raquel Vélez, an employee:
always npm, even if starting the sentence.
(this is a common question we get a lot :-) )
— Raquel Vélez (@rockbot) August 11, 2017
We don't have to.
Brand name capitalization is always at the discretion of the editor or style guide, so brands like WIRED or LEGO do not have to be capped
— Karen McGrane (@karenmcgrane) August 11, 2017
If you're following the Chicago Manual of Style, they would say:
This makes life difficult, however, for those of us who cannot bear to begin a sentence with a lowercase letter. CMOS forbids so doing (except for names like eBay)—we advise you to rewrite. Some publications simply ignore the preference.
"Rewriting", as in, find a way not to start the sentence with the preferred-lowercase initialism.
Using npm …
The npm package manager …
Thanks to npm …
Anything to keep it capitalized as intended while not breaking basic capitalization 😅
— Nicolás Bevacqua (@nzgb) August 11, 2017
This advice holds true for other situations/companies as well:
avoid: He said that EBay is where he bought his IPod.
instead, use: He said that eBay is where he bought his iPod.
avoid: eBay is where he bought his iPod.
instead, use: He bought his iPod on eBay.
Or just burn it all down
this is why i don't capitalize ever
— jennmoneydollars (@jennschiffer) August 11, 2017