A File Naming Convention (FNC) is a framework for naming files so that they describe what the files contain and how they relate to other files. Developing an FNC is done through identifying the key elements of a project, what are the differences and commonalities between your files? These elements could include: date of creation, author's name, project name, name of a section or a sub-section of the project, the version of the file, etc. Using unique and standardized filenames is an advantage because it allows you to follow path names and link to other systems that require unique filenames.
Effective file naming conventions is an investment of time and effort but they do save time / effort in the long run. There are no perfect file naming conventions, but there are some basic rules:
Understanding files and what they contain are impacted by how they are organized and named. Well named files are easier to find! Be descriptive and consistent in how you name and organize your files, this will help when you need to find specific data. Choose a format for naming your files and be consistent in how you use it. You can include any information that will allow you to distinguish your files from one another but including some of the following information could be useful:
Another good idea is to include in the directory a readme.txt file that explains your naming format along with any abbreviations or codes you have used.
A file naming convention (FNC) can help you stay organized by making it easy to identify the file(s) that contain the information that you are looking for just from its title and by grouping files that contain similar information close together. A good FNC can also help others better understand and navigate through your work.
Files without employing an naming convention:
Files with a naming convention:
The files with a naming convention provide a preview of the content, are organized in a logical way (by date yyyy-mm-dd) identify the responsible party and convey the work history, unlike the files without a naming convention.
The file format is the principal factor in the ability for others to use your data in the future. You need to plan for software and hardware obsolescence since technology continually changes. How will others use your data if the software used to produce is no longer available? You may want to consider migrating your files to a format with the characteristics listed below and keep a copy in the original format.
Formats most likely to be accessible in the future include:
Examples of preferred formats:
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