Filed under: Concepts
1. Label files accurately.
It’s always a good idea to give your files clear, descriptive names. But it becomes critical in collaborative projects, when your colleagues need to be able to distinguish between, say, a draft file that they can expect to change in the future, and a final file that they can expect to stay the same.
2. Use version numbers.
Save a new copy of your file each time you make a major change to it, adding a version number to the end of its name. This is called “versioning.” Not only can you find the most recent version at a glance this way, but you also create a simple timeline of the file’s evolution, with every major change available for inspection. (For more complex projects, you could come up with more elaborate naming schemes, or turn to automated version control software like Version Cue.)
3. Avoid duplicate filenames.
If you replace a file with a new file that has the same name, nobody but you may be aware that it’s been changed. Duplicate filenames may sometimes be necessary, but there’s always some potential for confusion. Even though you fixed a given problem with an old version, for example, someone else might be operating on the assumption that it’s still there.
4. Don’t delete old files.
Space permitting, you should archive every version of your file. Even after the project’s done, keeping old versions around can be a great help in case something goes wrong in the future. You can comb back through your files in reverse order and pinpoint where the problem first occurred.