Best Practices in Naming Assets | Naming Files
With tight deadlines, many developers cut corners and fail to come up with a system for naming files and assets. But whether your website is large or small, it is important to be consistent with file naming. Devise a set of file naming rules, and stick to these conventions throughout your projects. If you are working with a team of designers and developers, make sure everyone understands and agrees to the conventions.
Modern computing platforms such as Windows, Macintosh, Linux and UNIX platforms are not limited to 8.3 naming and there is no excuse not to use long, descriptive file names with the .html extension. While 3 letter extensions are common on PC’s, they are no longer exclusive, even Microsoft’s latest ASP.NET uses the 4-character extension .aspx for its web pages, so it’s worth making the move over to the original .html extension.
Avoiding Meaningless File Names
Names that make sense at the moment you name them can become meaningless, even to you, within a matter of weeks. Take a look at the following page names that we found on the Web.
index3.htm, wenpg.jpg, dlcform.htm, qamanintro.asp, extmods.htm
Can you guess what these files are or contain? We recommend a naming convention that uses a plain English approach: quite simply, name things after what they are or do. For example if you have a page with titled About Us, name the file, about_us.html.
Naming pages with acronyms is a variation of giving pages nonsense names. While the pages might communicate something to you or your organization, they certainly don’t communicate to a general audience. Moreover, acronyms change over time, so they could lose their meaning even internally. Take a look at the following examples.
daps.html, daps1.html, daps2.html
daps.htm is the name of front page on one of the sites we found, while daps1.htm and daps2.htm are examples of file names for the content pages therein. We have no real way of telling what is in the files unless we open them. Even when you know you’ll be running your site for the foreseeable future, in a few months you to could be scratching your head. Acronyms are commonplace on the Internet, and litter the computing highway. Take the time and write names out in full, distinguish your files and make browsing your site easier to understand.
Using Numbers to Distinguish Content Files
Although sometimes it is a good idea to number a series of files, you should always lead with a 0, so you have 01, 02 and so forth, so that the files are listed in order within the Site panel. If you number with single digits and then move up to double digits when necessary, you could end up with a sequence like the following one: survey1.htm, survey10.htm, survey11.htm, survey2.htm, survey3.htm, survey4.htm, and so on.
The First Page on a Site
Always name the front page of a site default.html, index.html or home.html—whichever your ISP specifies as the home page default. The reason for this is that your users should be able to get to your welcome page without having to type the page’s full URL. Thus, to get to http://www.phireworx.com/default.asp, users only need to type http://www.phireworx.com and the server knows to go automatically to default.asp. If you wish to move away from standard convention, you will only be able to do so if you have administrative control over the web server.
Joining Words Together Versus Underscores
Both of the following examples offer a better plain English approach to file naming, simply because they use descriptive names and they are longer than 8 characters. But there is a rather obvious problem; the words have been condensed so that there are no spaces, making them hard to read.
whatwecandoforyou.htm or joinOurCommunity.htm
This is partly because empty spacing in files is unadvisable for web pages. While the first file name makes no attempt to distinguish the words, the second file name uses the secondary capitals technique to distinguish individual words. The problem with both these techniques is that once you have a few files, its makes it very difficult to tell one file from another. We encourage you to use underscores “_”, changing this file names into:
what_we_can_do_for_you.html and join_our_community.html