Monday, July 21, 2008

Naming Documents

I thought we killed off Hungarian Notation because it doesn't work? Did I miss a memo somewhere? It seems that Hungarian Notation is making a comeback, this time in document names.

There's nothing like having your meta data encoded in the file name, with three letter acronyms for everything. It is impossible to decode, and becomes really fun when the team names change once a year!

"Say where's the SRS?" "Is it in SRS.doc?" "Nope" "How about esgEng_SIT_DR4_SRS.doc?" "Nope" "Oh, wait, Engineering was renamed last year for 6 months.... How about esg_PEN_SIT_DR3_SRS.doc?" "Ah, that's got it."

Encoding meta data in the filename is stupid. How about putting it in the file in the meta data portion where it belongs, and then using a search tool to search it? Or, maybe a directory structure that represents your tag tree.


Then, when you need to change the meta data, you rename the tree:


But Jason, I need to know who produced the document without opening it!

Use the checksum, and search/store that. Anything else can be mistakenly altered or lost. Use the file's checksum. It is a much more reliable descriptor of the file than the filename! I have learned from experience to, never, ever trust a filename, they lie.

Or better yet, you buy a document repository off the shelf for 100k, and shove the problem at them. Personally, I just use the Google Search Appliance. Now that they've got it looking at the correct bits of data, it's very useful. Much better than any of the searches built into the various corporate portals.

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