I remember reading a columnist in one of the Ziff-Davis mags, back in the mid-90s, lamenting the busting of the old 8.3 file-naming conventions that DOS imposed. With the new Win95 long filenames-with-spaces convention, he predicted that people would actually lose more files than find them again. He used as an example their production process, in which every directory name and every character in a filename carried a specific meaning in the workflow. That kind of discipline ensured that everyone knew what state the files were in. With longer filenames, he was afraid that users would be mainly writing reminders to themselves rather than helping out the next worker on the production line.
Reading the identifiers article reminded me of a 43folders.com blog posting, and that led me to other postings related to how folks name files. The people commenting are mainly graphic designers and web designers, whose work involves tracking lots of little individual files that collectively make up a single job.
This is from the developers' point of view. Read the original post but skim the comments to get an idea of what developers have to consider when creating files the users will depend on. The Old Joel on Software Forum - Restrictions on # of files in a Windows Directory?
E: if it is problematic to have several thousand separate directory entries in one directory, I could envision a directory structure in which the all user IDs ending in '0' go to a directory called c:userdata, user IDs ending in '1' go to a directory called c:userdata1, etc. Or use more digits from the end of the user ID for greater granularity: c:userdata00, c:userdata01, etc.
Vox Populi: Best practices for file naming | 43 Folders
But, just so I don’t lose you, do give me your best tips in comments: What are your favorite current conventions for naming files? How does your team show iterations and versions? Do you rely more on Folder organization than file names in your work? How have Spotlight, Quicksilver, and the like changed the way you think about this stuff?
My god, there are 86 comments on this thread and many of them are detailed and illustrated....
...and then Lifehacker.com gets in on the fun. There are some some commenters who say "don't include the date in the filename" as that info is already captured with the file and you can sort on that info in most file managers. I include the date because I often share my documents with others and the date in the filename is the quickest way for them to discern whether they have the latest copy. Ask the Readers: Filing naming conventions? Another very long posting that inspired the 43folders post above. It's interesting to note that, for designers, they all have certain types of info they want captured in the filename, such as the client name and draft iteration. But where they put that info depends, probably, on who set up the system first, tradition, etc. What Do I Know - File Naming / Organization Methods?
Only 4 comments in this one, but they have good detail and pretty much mirror the other postings. Read this one to get a flavor of the longer screeds. File Naming and Archiving | 43 Folders
A single post detailing another designer's setup at his workplace. Use a boilerplate folder setup and consistent, meaningful names | 43 Folders