Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's in a Name?

Spaces? Dashes? Underscores? Caps? Who would have-thought-that-naming_a_document_would%20be%20SuchAnIssue.pdf?

The DoE already has a document naming convention but it wasn't designed for today's systems or devices. Over the years document names have lengthened in order to be more meaningful and also to distinguish them from other similar documents. Our current content management system is not accessible through the Internet and so it allows spaces. The new Document Centre for the new Internet website will show document names in a URL and spaces will be replaced by %20 which is messy.

It's common to replace the spaces with a dash (hyphen) or an underscore - although opinions are mixed as to which is the better option.

SharePoint 2010 allows for each document to have a title which can be displayed in web parts making them easy to read. SharePoint also has provision for customisable document IDs which means
  • the URL has no spaces
  • a document can be searched for using its ID
  • the ID doesn't change if the document name, version, title or location changes
  • the ID can appear on printed documents making it easier to check for updates online
This might be a neat solution allowing us to use spaces in the document name.
The advantage of this is that when documents (which are mostly PDFs) are viewed in Explorer or on tablet computers their names look nice. Most applications handle spaces in file names very well.

So... do we need to convert spaces to dashes or underscores? Perhaps it depends on how often the end-user sees the URL.

SharePoint Document IDs are worth a closer look.

Document IDs could be included in the footer

They could be included in the document footer making it easy to locate the online version. Although the IDs are 11 characters some test searching showed that documents can often be located by searching for just the last 3 or 4 characters.

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