File Naming and Versioning

 

Definition

This is a set of conventions you define for naming data files and the folders you keep them in and for saving multiple versions of files.

Relevance

Using naming/versioning conventions . . .

  • prevents accidental overwrites or deletion
  • makes it easier to locate specific data files
  • preserves differences in the information content or functionality of different file versions
  • prevents confusion if multiple people are working on shared files

Recommendations

CategorySpecific recommendations
File and folder names
  • Define a naming convention and be consistent using it, especially, if multiple people are sharing files.

  • Avoid "/ \ : * ? " < > [ ] & $ in names. These characters have specific meanings in your computer's operating system that could result in misreading or deleting these files.

  • Use underscores (_) not spaces to separate terms.
Folder names
  • Keep names short, 15-20 characters or less.

  • Use names that describe the general category of files the folder contains.

File names
  • Keep names short, no more than 25 characters.

  • Use names that describe the contents of the file.

  • Include a date using the format recommended by ISO 8601: YYYY-MM-DD (This is important because the date stored with a file on your computer will be changed if the file is moved to another computer.)

  • Don't include the folder name in the file name unless you are sharing files and there might be confusion about which folder a file should be added to.

File versions
  • Include a version number at the end of the file name such as v01. Change this version number each time the file is saved.

  • For the final version, substitute the word FINAL for the version number. (This is especially important if files are being shared.)

  • Turn on versioning or tracking in collaborative works or storage spaces such as Wikis, GoogleDocs, or MyWebSpace.

  • Use a versioning software such as Apache Subversion to automatically track versions of computer code.