Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Importance of File Naming - General To Specific Part I

One of the most often overlooked items when working with digital files is your choice and implementation of a File Naming scheme. Early in my career I was not so concerned with this, but overtime as I began working on larger and more complex projects the use of a good file naming system has made my life (and others working with me) much easier.

Why is this so important and why should you care? Good question. One of the most important reasons to consider the naming structure you use is to benefit both yourself and others later to access a particular file/folder to retrieve or use the data contained therein.

Since I tend to use ADT and VIZ more often than not I would be remiss if I did not include a related example to share in the context of this article. At the end of this consider how to use a similar approach for your daily work. For the cad world the UDS (and other standards) offer some guidelines for consistency in your drawing file naming but outside of cad there are no real guidelines for visualization files (from maps and materials to your working model files). Let's look at a typical approach:

Notice to proceed with work is given and off you go to start modeling. Along the way you will want to save this file. Now is the critical time and if you have no standard you should give some thought to your naming scheme at this point. If like most users you probably have a folder for your current job. Some may have a specific folder structure they tend to use from job to job. If so this is a great idea as this will help you know where to look for a particular file regardless of which job you are currently working on. Consistency here is the key and an item you should strive for.

So at this point we have a folder structure, perhaps similar to this:MyDrive:\\Projects\ProjectType\JobName\LocationIfApplicable\WorkingFiles

Using a similar structure allows us to keep all jobs in a consistent location (this applies for 1-2 users as well as larger working teams). Achieving a good naming scheme starts with the folder structure you use. It is important that the structure you choose/use allow for maximum flexibility not just for current projects but also future work/project types.

Once we have a working folder structure the next step is to deal with the files themselves. To accomplish a good naming system we should again consider flexibility, usability and simplicity of use the main goal. Let's discuss the main concept of this article:

Work GENERAL to SPECIFIC ex. General_Specific_MoreSpecific.FileExtension

As you can tell in the example above I tend to use the underscore (_) instead of using periods (.) in my naming strategy. While macintonsh, unix, linux, etc.. work well with periods if your workflow involves multiple platforms you will want to avoid periods to be as compatible as possible with each system. You would be wise to also avoid the use of spaces to separate your naming acronym as this will help when using scripts.

In part II of this article I will be giving more specific examples to help share this concept. In the meantime with a small bit of planning before and during your next project you can help to make your projects easier to work with for everyone involved by paying attention to your specific naming scheme.



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