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  1. #1
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    Using multiple periods in file names

    I have a colleague with whom I frequently share files with. We are both independent contractors and accordingly do not work in typical office environments, and more importantly, we do not have an IT that we can ask for help and direction. I have a bit more savvy than him when it comes to word-processing and spreadsheets skills, so I often pass along advice or solutions when asked.

    He has an interesting and I believe unique file-naming convention. It possibly caused me a minor but annoying inconvenience, but I was not 100% sure that the file-naming convention was at fault.

    He uses MULTIPLE periods in his file names, e.g., THIS.PROJECT.MAY.2015.docx.

    I want to say "NO! STOP THAT! NO ONE DOES THAT and it could cause big problems!" (And I want to use all caps!)

    Would I be wrong in gently suggesting (in lowercase) that he stop that and replace the periods with an underscore? or spaces? If so, does anyone have a web source that discusses why one should not do this!

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoree View Post
    I have a colleague with whom I frequently share files with. We are both independent contractors and accordingly do not work in typical office environments, and more importantly, we do not have an IT that we can ask for help and direction. I have a bit more savvy than him when it comes to word-processing and spreadsheets skills, so I often pass along advice or solutions when asked.

    He has an interesting and I believe unique file-naming convention. It possibly caused me a minor but annoying inconvenience, but I was not 100% sure that the file-naming convention was at fault.

    He uses MULTIPLE periods in his file names, e.g., THIS.PROJECT.MAY.2015.docx.

    I want to say "NO! STOP THAT! NO ONE DOES THAT and it could cause big problems!" (And I want to use all caps!)

    Would I be wrong in gently suggesting (in lowercase) that he stop that and replace the periods with an underscore? or spaces? If so, does anyone have a web source that discusses why one should not do this!
    I've seen similar and with the latest versions of programs and Operating Systems there's not much problem. HOWEVER, it must be kept in mind that the extension of a file name such as .docx will always be after the last period in the name. Delete that extension and the name/word that results after the last period can cause the file not to be recognized. In other words, THIS.PROJECT.MAY.2015 will no longer be a valid file and can't be opened. Adding to the issue is the default of Windows hiding the display of file extensions, makes it harder to determine where problems exist. I prefer separating parts of a file name by using the underscore _ or maybe the dash - instead of the period.
    Last edited by Berton; 2016-06-11 at 11:07.

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    Yoree,

    IMHO you are correct you should not to this. That said it is not against the "Rules".

    Here's the reference on File Naming Rules direct from the Horses Mouth!

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    Because Windows uses file name extensions to associate programs and data I avoid the use of periods. Saves any possible complication.

    cheers, Paul

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    There is a rule of thumb in Windows. It's not official and it isn't enforceable. However it says, essentially, don't use periods in file names.

    Quite a while now (I think it was introduced with Windows XP), Microsoft decided to simplify the data presentation of files. As part of this they started hiding the file extensions by default. It was a settable option you understand, but many users never found the switch to reveal the file extensions. You were supposed to understand the file type by it's icon, or perhaps by the Type column.

    Anyhow after some time had passed, certain malware authors decided to take advantage of this behavior. They started distributing malware infested files with names like "Urgent Request From Finance.pdf.exe".

    The idea was that the default file presentation was to strip off the extension. Thus the file would appear to be named "Urgent Request From Finance.pdf", it would appear to be important and not a security concern. In reality the file was a virus injection program. The client would be induced to run the program and then they had a big problem.

    For this reason, multiple file extensions automatically raise red flags for anyone who knows about the problem. And since the file extension system is open-ended, theoretically anything after a period can be a file extension. This has meant that periods in file names also raise those red flags even if used innocently.

    The truth is, it's pretty easy to determine what potentially dangerous file naming syntax is. Therefore even as a rule of thumb, this rule is weak. It has a kajillion exceptions and most don't endanger anybody. And when it is rigorously followed it is mostly to avoid guilt by association. Malware has a terrible reputation and lots of people simply don't want to be connected with it in any way at all.

    Interesting historical fact: In modern file systems (NTFS, etc.) the period is a real character, which is why it can be used multiple times in a file name. In the original FAT file system the period was a separator character only and wasn't actually part of the file name. The period wasn't stored on disk for instance. The result was that there was an absolute prohibition on using it in any context other than the file extension. It was impossible to use it multiple times in a file name.

    Perhaps this too, is part of why some shy away from periods in file names. There was a time when it was truly "against the rules." That's a long time ago now but some of us still remember.

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    That's interesting. I've never heard these explanations. I've never left my defaults to allow hidden extensions, and I've named most all my files, thousands of them at home and work, ending with dates [space] YYYY.MM.DD.[extension]. Examples:

    Annual Report 2014.06.30.pdf
    Annual Report 2015.06.30.pdf

    That way I can have lots of identical filenames but I'll always know which is the newest -- and they'll be listed in Explorer in chronological order.

    I guess I could use the underscore instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik47 View Post
    I guess I could use the underscore instead.
    Indeed, you could use any other valid filenaming character, including a space or hyphen...
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BHarder View Post
    There is a rule of thumb in Windows. ... don't use periods in file names
    I've always followed this 'rule', both in Windows and on the internet [eg when naming website folders and files which end up in URLs]. With the proliferation of devices and access/reading methods, I aim to minimize the chance of various future obscure failures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik47 View Post
    Annual Report 2014.06.30.pdf
    Annual Report 2015.06.30.pdf
    I guess I could use the underscore instead.
    I avoid underscores because of their readability problem in underlined links--ie they look like spaces.

    Annual Report 2014-06-30.pdf
    Annual Report 2015-06-30.pdf

    I use the same chronological sorting method, with the full year like you, so people around the world aren't wondering what 10-11-12 means.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lugh View Post
    so people around the world aren't wondering what 10-11-12 means.
    So what does 2010-11-12 mean to someone who doesn't know your 'method'? If you have to tell someone, it's hardly any more apparent to them than 10-11-12. The ISO format (yyyymmdd) is a recognised standard but neither yyyy-mm-dd nor yyyy-dd-mm is.
    Cheers,

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    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macropod View Post
    So what does 2010-11-12 mean to someone who doesn't know your 'method'?
    I can't say, as I've never encountered a person who didn't know this seemingly universally understood-by-humans method. A machine could interpret differently of course, so care is needed there.

    I try to use 2010-Nov-12 format in general correspondence when I think of it--although as said, it's probably unnecessary in practice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by macropod View Post
    So what does 2010-11-12 mean to someone who doesn't know your 'method'?...
    "2010-11-12" is ambiguous; it could mean either "12 November 2010" or "11 December 2010" depending on the interpretation of the reader.

    Surely it is better to use (for example) "12DEC2010"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lugh View Post
    I can't say, as I've never encountered a person who didn't know this seemingly universally understood-by-humans method.
    You should get out more.

    cheers, Paul

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    5 Star Lounger Lugh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coochin
    Surely it is better to use (for example) "12DEC2010"?
    I agree, as I said...
    Quote Originally Posted by Lugh
    I try to use 2010-Nov-12 format in general correspondence
    ...but the context of my 2010-11-12 example was in a situation where sorting by filename is needed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Erik47 View Post
    lots of identical filenames ... listed in Explorer in chronological order.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    You should get out more.
    Well, I've been to your stated Location
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    Quote Originally Posted by BHarder View Post
    There is a rule of thumb in Windows. It's not official and it isn't enforceable. However it says, essentially, don't use periods in file names.
    <snip>
    Cracking post, Gromit! I couldn't have put it better myself.

    OP, why doesn't your colleague just use spaces, like the rest of the human race?

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoree View Post
    Would I be wrong in gently suggesting (in lowercase) that he stop that and replace the periods with an underscore? or spaces? If so, does anyone have a web source that discusses why one should not do this!
    You had better not cite me as 'a web source' (web sources are notorious for their unreliability, and when it comes to computers I admit to that), but I can offer several plausible explanations for points raised in the thread.

    If you are reading this in a browser that has the web address displayed, you will see any number of right-slashes (I'm sure they have a proper name, but I don't know what it is), and any number of periods e.g. windowssecrets.com FULL STOP. Too many periods floating around without spaces might get a filename confused with a web address.

    The logo for the State Library of New South Wales is an interrobang, and the web address is www.sl.nsw.gov.au.

    Days are shorter than months and months are shorter than years. You can work from left to right, as with gasoline pumps where the leftmost digit runs the fastest and the right digit the slowest, or you can count down, as with sending your backyard rocketship into space - either way, put the months in the middle.
    Last edited by dogberry; 2016-08-31 at 18:39. Reason: corrected word

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