The Best Way to Name Your Files

The Best Way to Name Your Files

Devexis india  says, There are two types of files on your computer. The ones you make, and the ones you collect. You are either making stuff and saving it to your hard drive or you are collecting things like images, utility bills, PDF’s, invoices, 3d models to put in your scenes, texture files, etc. You choose what these files are called and where they are stored. Where they are stored is becoming less and less of a decision with things like I-Cloud and the super-quick Spotlight search. I-Cloud doesn’t let you decide where to store files because it keeps apps’ files sandboxed per program. Spotlight searches everywhere regardless of where you keep your things saved.

If you become disciplined with file naming, where you put the file almost doesn’t matter anymore. I’m not saying you should just throw everything in one big heap in your Documents folder, but it’s starting to get to the point where that is acceptable.

Basic File Naming Rules of Thumb

  1. 1 Be descriptive

We no longer live in a world where you can only have a file name that’s 8 characters long. Yes, I used computers then. I’m old. And that’s really the point of your new file naming system – you will get old and forget what you named things. The goal here is to come up with a recipe that has a structure easy enough to follow that you’ll actually use it. Don’t make it too complicated, but include enough information so the names are organized and easy to discern. In other words, don’t make names so that you have to decode them. Make them so you can just read them.

I love how David says to assume senility in his article:

Don’t get cryptic. Pretend future you will be drunk or senile (or both) when looking at these filenames and make the name easy to understand.

Be descriptive so you can search with normal language to find your files later. What do you do two years down the road when you need to find a 3d model for your portfolio to get a new job and the file is named “Study Final Final 5b No Really This Is Final zzzzz.skp ”? How many other files do you have with the word “final” in it? Stop it. That isn’t descriptive. Use your big words. It isn’t a good idea to name your files “Untitled” or “3d Model” or “Research Paper” either, even if they are in a folder with a different project name than the others. What matters are the FILE names when searching later on down the road.

1.2 Finally 

Never use the word “final” in a file name. Ever. It seems that architecture students have this problem the most, but the pros do it too. Maybe it has to do with wanting to be done. We all know it isn’t the final version. You know there’s still something that’s screwed up. It’s not final, and probably never will be. Just Save As… and make a new version of the file.

  1. Be consistent

Once you develop your own technique, you need to use it.  All  the time.  Every day  . Every  where . Use project or client names in every file, every time.

  1. Use lowercase letters only

This is part of our “consistency” concept. When you look at a folder full of files it just looks better when you use the same case conventions. And we care how things look, don’t we?

  1. Don’t use special characters

Letter and numbers are fine of course, but computers don’t always know what to do with certain characters and symbols. Stick with the basics and you’ll be fine. Spaces are ok of course. Even the internet has learned how to deal with spaces in file names, although%20it%20isn’t%20pretty. If you don’t like or can’t read that, use underscores or dashes between words like _this or like-this. Those are much more internet and website friendly. It seems like almost everything ends up on the web nowadays, so save yourself some time in the future by naming things web-ready today if you think your work will end up there.

  1. Use dates in your file names

Why? Don’t we already have a modification date for each file? Yes, but having the date at the beginning of a file name ensures no matter where the file ends up that it is sorted the same way everywhere.

  1. Use version numbers in files you create

To use an analog term, create a paper trail with your digital files. Not to mention this will totally save your life when the current file you’re working on gets corrupted and you have to start over. Oh yeah! You don’t have to because you have a version that is only 15 minutes old! Like I said,  life saver. This doesn’t just go for crazy intricate 3d models. This goes for TPS reports too.

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