Why Are File Naming Conventions Essential

Why Are File Naming Conventions Essential

What are file naming conventions?

To maximize access to your records, we recommend establishing a naming convention for your files.

A file naming convention is a framework for naming your files in a way that describes what they contain and how they chronicle to other files.

File naming conventions aid you stay organized and makes it easier to place your files. By consistently organizing your files, you will be able to rapidly discover what you need. And in a shared or collaborative group file-sharing setting, it will help others more easily navigate your piece of work.

It is

essential
 to establish a convention
before
 you brainstorm collecting files or information in order to prevent a backlog of unorganized content that will lead to misplaced or lost data!


Comic: xkcd. “Documents.”https://xkcd.com/1459. Shared nether
CC-Past-NC License

Examples

Files with no naming convention:

  • Test data 2016.xlsx
  • Coming together notes Jan 17.physician
  • Notes Eric.txt
  • ​​​​​​​Final Last terminal version.docx

Files with a naming convention:

  • 20160104_ProjectA_Ex1Test1_SmithE_v1.xlsx
  • 20160104_ProjectA_MeetingNotes_SmithE_v2.docx
  • ExperimentName_InstrumentName_CaptureTime_ImageID.tif
    ​​​​​​​

Tips for File Naming

  • Think nearly your files

    What related files are you working with?

    • Identify what group of files your naming convention will cover
    • You can use unlike conventions for dissimilar file sets
    • Cheque for established file naming conventions in your subject or grouping


    Case: This convention will apply to all of my microscopy files, from raw prototype through processed image

  • Identify metadata (for case, engagement, sample, experiment)

    What information is needed to easily locate a specific file?

    The computer arranges files by name, character by grapheme. Therefore, put the most important data offset. If you anticipate wanting to find a file by date, then put the date outset. The file name should be descriptive and provide just enough contextual information.

    • Consider including a combination of the following information:
      • Experiment conditions
      • Blazon of information
      • Researcher name/initials
      • Lab name/location
      • Project or experiment name or acronym
      • Appointment or date range of experiment
        • A good format for date designations is
          YYYYMMDD. This format makes sure all of your files stay in chronological order. To add together a timestamp to your filename, use the format YYYYMMDDThhmm.
      • Experiment number or sample ID
        • When using a sequential numbering system, use leading zeros for clarity and ensure files sort in sequential order. For case, utilize “001, 002, …010, 011 … 100, 101 …” instead of “i, two, …ten, xi … 100, 101 …”


    Case: For my images, I desire to know the appointment, sample ID, and image number for that sample on that date

  • Abridge or encode metadata

    Don’t forget to document any codes!

    • Make up one’s mind what shortened information to keep
    • Standardize the categories and/or supplant them with 2- or iii-letter codes
    • Be sure to document these codes!


    Example: Sample ID will use a lawmaking made up of: a 2-letter of the alphabet project abbreviation (projection 1 = P1, project ii = P2), a 3-letter species abbreviation (mouse = “MUS”, fruit wing = “DRS”), and 3-digit sample ID (assigned in lab notebook)

  • Use versioning

    Are you lot maintaining different versions of the aforementioned file?

    • Employ versioning to indicate the most current version of a file
    • Track versions of a file past adding version information to cease of the file proper name, e.g. filename_v2.xxx
    • Apply a version number (e.yard. “v01” or “v02”)
    • Utilise the version date (utilize ISO 8601 format: YYYYMMDD or YYYY-MM-DD)
  • Think well-nigh how yous will search for your files

    What comes beginning?

    • Recall about how you desire to sort and search for your files in order to determine the order for the metadata in the file name
    • Decide what metadata should appear at the offset
    • Apply default ordering: alphabetically, numerically, or chronologically
    • Use ISO 8601-formatted dates (YYYYMMDD or YYYY-MM-DD)
  • Deliberately separate metadata elements

    Avoid spaces or special characters in your file names

    Determine the characters you will apply to split up each piece of metadata in the file. Many computer systems cannot handle spaces in file names, so do not use spaces!

    • Use dashes (-), underscores (_), or capitalize the outset letter of the alphabet of each discussion
      • Dashes: file-name.xxx
      • Underscores: file_name.xxx
      • No separation: filename.xxx
      • Camel case (the beginning alphabetic character of each section of text is capitalized): FileName.xxx
    • Avoid special characters, such as:  ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; : < > ? . , [ ] { } ‘ ” |


    Case: I will apply underscores to separate metadata and dashes betwixt parts of my sample ID

  • Write downwards your naming conventions

    Include a height-level README file on how to navigate the structure

    Naming conventions should exist documented so that others in your lab or section can follow this standard. Document naming conventions in a README.txt and go along it with your files!

    • If the file is moved or shared, users will be able to identify the file from its file name.
    • File names should be 40-50 characters and conventions should only utilize alphanumeric characters, dashes, underscores
      • If you discover that you are encoding a big amount of metadata in the file names, yous should consider storing this metadata in a principal spreadsheet with your data for hereafter reference.


    Example: My file naming convention is [SA-MPL-EID]_[YYYYMMDD]_[###]_[status].[tif]

  • Boosted Resource

    Bang-up started with naming conventions!

    • File Naming Conventions Checklist
    • File Naming Convention Worksheet

      past Kristin Briney, Caltech Library

Why Are File Naming Conventions Essential

Source: https://datamanagement.hms.harvard.edu/collect/file-naming-conventions

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