Lecture 03.01: File Management


The goal of this project is to intro­duce the file types used in design pro­duc­tion and to cre­ate a con­sis­tent and effi­cient process to man­age files for use in print and dig­i­tal workflows.


Proper file upkeep is essen­tial to a stress free work­ing envi­ron­ment and a smooth dig­i­tal work­flow. Macs and PC’s are sim­i­lar in most regards, though they look and feel dif­fer­ent as you begin to switch between the two platforms.

Background Reading

Dab­ner, Mod­ule 5


Direc­tory: a file that lists the names of items con­tained on a disk or other piece of stor­age media. The direc­tory does not actu­ally con­tain these items, but it does con­tain infor­ma­tion that tells the oper­at­ing sys­tem how to find the item on the disk. A direc­tory can list dif­fer­ent types of files, includ­ing other direc­to­ries, mean­ing that the direc­tory struc­ture of a disk can be multi-tiered.

Folder: the graph­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a direc­tory. Together with the Finder (Fig­ure 2), fold­ers pro­vide an eas­ily under­stood way to see and manip­u­late a file sys­tem. Mov­ing an item in or out of a folder in the Finder changes the under­ly­ing direc­tory. The terms and are some­times used inter­change­ably, when the dis­tinc­tion is not relevant.

Path­name: To find a file or folder, you fol­low a par­tic­u­lar path. As in Fig­ure 2, you might open the Mac OS X disk, then the Users folder, then the folder with your user name (or Home Direc­tory), and finally your Desk­top folder. A is sim­ply a con­cise way to iden­tify a folder by both its name and its loca­tion in the file sys­tem. This is impor­tant when files and fold­ers have the same name and can only be dif­fer­en­ti­ated by loca­tion. Mac OS X, for exam­ple, has four or more fold­ers named “Fonts” that can only be iden­ti­fied by pathname.




Absolute paths are usu­ally reserved for out­side links. This is the for­mal path that includes all infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary for the file to be found when it is requested by a computer.

Exam­ple: “http://​art​.oru​.edu/” or “file:///Users/jhowell/Documents/*current_work*/oru/instruction/spring2009/ART218/html/05file_mgt.html”



When images or links are within the same par­ent folder or direc­tory, the absolute path can be cum­ber­some to input open­ing the process up to addi­tional error. Mov­ing the file to a new loca­tion or server may require the link be edited to reflect the new path. A rel­a­tive link only looks in the same level and there­fore would not need edit­ing if the par­ent folder is moved. If the indi­vid­ual file is moved rel­a­tive to the ref­er­enc­ing file, then the link will be bro­ken or the file will not appear.

Exam­ple: “http://​jwhow​ell​.point918​.com/​a​c​a​d​e​m​i​c​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​h​tml”

To get from “index.html” to “table01.html” via Absolute path:


To get from “index.html” to “table01.html” via rel­a­tive path:

jwhowell/table01.html” or “table01.html”

Site Root:

The site root is likened to an absolute loca­tion within a rel­a­tive direc­tory (ie folder). The top most direc­tory (folder) that does not change is the “root.”

Exam­ple: “http://​jwhow​ell​.point918​.com/​a​c​a​d​e​m​i​c​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​h​tml”

To get from “index.html” to “table01.html” via Site Root path:



File hier­ar­chy allows for effi­cient use of dig­i­tally pro­duced files. In the pro­fes­sional world, good file man­age­ment allows for ease of use by ser­vice providers and print­ers. Large firms may require sev­eral design­ers work on the same project. By using a con­sis­tent sys­tem of nam­ing and orga­ni­za­tion, the like­li­hood of cre­at­ing costly errors can be reduced or pre­vented. In the Com­puter Lab envi­ron­ment, good man­age­ment allows effi­cient use from machine to machine and from machine to printer.


The “project” folder should have the fol­low­ing sub folders:

fonts: This folder con­tains both screen and printer font files.

sup­port: This folder con­tains placed images, EPS files, and addi­tional files nec­es­sary for output.

trans sup­port: This folder con­tains orig­i­nal images, lay­ered images, or “extra” source files.

Save the doc­u­ment in the “project” folder. Name the file using the fol­low­ing as a tem­plate: yourinitials_art218_assn01_layout01.ext

Where “art218” is your class num­ber; “your­name” is your name; “lay­out” is the name of the project part (Part one, Cover, inside, etc) “01” is the sequen­tial file ver­sion num­ber; and “ext” is the three let­ter file exten­sion for the soft­ware you are using that is nec­es­sary for use on PC‘s and Servers. Remem­ber, no spaces (use under­score), only one “dot” (.), and no slashes (/).

By keep­ing sequen­tial files using the “Save As” com­mand, you keep a pro­gres­sive record of you work for later analy­sis or recov­ery. Com­put­ers orga­nize on a alpha-numeric hier­ar­chy, so a zero, as in “01” and “02” is needed to list before “11”, “12” and “22”. You can also use the File>Preflight com­mand in InDe­sign to check.



The “project” folder should have the fol­low­ing sub folders:

  • media: This folder con­tains linked media nec­es­sary output.
  • scripts: Scripts used with some rep­e­ti­tion held here.
  • media: images, movies or ani­ma­tions belong here
  • trans sup­port: This folder con­tains orig­i­nal images, lay­ered images, or “extra” source files.

File hier­ar­chy is essen­tial to allow any out­put in dig­i­tal mul­ti­me­dia an web pro­duc­tion. If files do not fol­low the proper paths and nam­ing con­ven­tions, links and images will be bro­ken and will not work. Users do not have options to relo­cate files as in some print pro­duc­tion soft­ware. Servers and plat­forms may be case sen­si­tive, have lim­its on num­ber of char­ac­ters, and do not allow the use of mul­ti­ple dots (.) and for­ward slashes (/).

File Names

Mac­in­tosh, Win­dows, and Unix oper­at­ing sys­tems all have guide­lines and restric­tions on nam­ing files. If you plan on work­ing online exten­sively or on both a PC and a Mac, you should use the 8.3 or “eight-dot-three” nam­ing con­ven­tion. The name of the file con­tains only eight char­ac­ters, a period, and the three let­ter file exten­sion. No more and no less. Only let­ters, num­bers, and the under­score are allowed (page_001.htm).