The recomended structure for filenames in JD

Hi there!
In would like to ask you for an advice, how to name each file to get the simple, consistent and structured system for file names.

e.g. filename_version_date

Looking forward for your advice.

Mike

Hi Mike.

Using the JD ID in the file name

Sometimes I find it useful to use the Johnny.Decimal ID in the filename. In these situations:

  1. When the file will be distributed. Now the JD ID is encoded in the file name itself; very useful when that file makes its way back to you.
  2. When you access this file via your system’s File > Recent list. I find it helpful to have this list show the JD ID of the file, so now it’s less important what that file is named.

There will be other situations; up to you to decide.

In this case, I find the JD ID is the most important thing and other details become less relevant. So here’s a real-life example:

  • D85.43.11 Area complete template.mindnode

Using a date in the file name

Generally I use dates for static documents: my electricity bill, say. It’s April 2024’s bill and that’ll never change.

In this case the date is always first and in the ISO 8601 format.

  • 2024-04-22 Red Energy electricity bill.pdf

I’ll generally rename the file because the file you get from your electricity provider’s portal will be called something like … well, let me see what I got mailed recently … yep, 765670_A215.pdf.

I don’t use dates to indicate currency

For me, the current version of a document is the one in the folder. It doesn’t need a date.

But then if I archive off a copy, I’ll create a subfolder archive and the file goes in there with the date as above.

Some people – hi, @LucyDecimal :wave: – prefer the date in the file name at all times. Totally up to you.

Version numbers

Similarly I find manually adding version numbers to file names to be inconsistent and not worth the bother.

You either have a version control system, or you don’t. I’ve never seen manual version control – that table at the front of a document at work where you’re supposed to update when you make a change – I’ve never seen that work. Don’t bother.

The date, as described above, is sufficient and more reliable for tracking of older versions.

If you distribute a document, you may want to add the date to its file name for this reason. In this case, as this is for tracking and not sorting, I’d do this:

  • D85.43.11 Area complete template 2024-04-22.mindnode

General file naming

Otherwise, if you just have a file with a name, just give it a nice sensible name; whatever makes sense to you.

I tend to find people strive for really short file names. Why? Computer words are free.[1] Be descriptive; help future you.


  1. Unless you’re at work and Microsoft limits what you can type. Sucks to be you. :wink: ↩︎

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I spent some time thinking about this a few months back, when I was reorganizing some shared stuff.

Figured I could share in case it helps someone. :man_shrugging:

I came up with the following scheme: YYYY-MM-DD_DocumentTitle_Subtitle_Version_Metadata.FileExtension.

  • All is optional, except title.
  • Date is used only when the document is related to a time or period. (For instance, electricity bill for a given month or invoice on a given date)
  • Version is used only for exported versions. (PDFs)
  • Metadata is any treatment the file has been given that differentiates it from original or copies.

As en example, if we had a board meeting today and the minutes of meeting was written tomorrow, the following files would (eventually) be generate:

  • 2024-04-28_BoardMeeting_MoM.docx
  • 2024-04-28_BoardMeeting_MoM_240429.pdf
  • 2024-04-28_BoardMeeting_MoM_240429_Signed.pdf

These are essentially the same document, but in different forms.
You could put many MoM in a single folder and they would group automatically.

If the document is revised, each version is kept as a PDF and can be held separately. (We write the version number inside the document and use todays date as number)

We can easily find the version we need; the working document, or the scanned signed copy.

We always treat the original file (the editable) as dirty, meaning it can be either a draft or released version but you cannot really tell.

Hope that helps someone! :blush:

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Hi @johnnydecimal ! Thanks for your insights, you helped me. I like the rules reagarding the version number and date in the filename.

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Hi @osau ! Many thanks also for your example. I am curious more about the version name, what’s the “algorithm” behind? Version is derived from the shorten format of the date? I usually add version number as e.g. “2024-04-28_BoardMeeting_MoM_v01.pdf”

Exactly, I use YYMMDD for versioning, but only for derivatives. (Export) Johnny explained this perfectly above. I rarely distribute the original file. Usually a PDF or other format suitable for viewing and archiving.