What's in a Name?

By DANIEL ANTION posted 04-06-2011 07:27


In the course of modifying some very old code that I inherited, I noticed a strange bit of history. The people using these programs have been dutifully updating a variable to reflect current operating results, despite the fact that a programming change 5 or 6 years ago rendered that variable immaterial. Either they didn’t understand the nature of the program, or they felt the earlier change might someday be reversed, or they are just messing with me. I don’t know which explanation is correct, but it was ironic that I made this discovery this week. You see, we were also discussing whether or not to drop certain bits of irrelevant metadata from some documents as we move them to SharePoint.

Our dilemma is one I am sure others have faced, as we move documents to a robust content management environment, do we bother to preserve previous attempts at establishing metadata? I’m talking about things like the folder structure, or in our case file names.  The file name of our documents specified a line of business with a letter code, a date in mmddyy format and a facility by an abbreviated version of the facility name. Clearly, we don’t need this cryptic code once we move these documents into SharePoint, but is that enough of a reason to eliminate the convention. I am going to say no.

These documents have to start somewhere. Personally, I would like it if they started in SharePoint where the creation of a new document of a particular content type caused a specific template to open in Word. Realistically, I know that many of my coworkers will continue to open last year’s draft document, change a few of the details and begin their creation from that type of “template”. Following a naming convention that lets people realize what they have when a document arrives in email or is found in a shared folder (where it doesn’t belong) might not be a bad idea. In addition, this gives us the benefit of a certain consistency in the process as we move it forward. We focus on metadata, but the document has to have a name, so letting them work with the same naming convention they have grown accustomed to might add some comfort to the process – one thing that isn’t changing.

There is an even more important reason to keep the naming convention in this case, to aid in backfilling. Our plan is to populate this new library beginning with 2011 documents. We are going to operate for a few months, then review the process to see if it meets our objectives, and then finalize the process in the 3rdquarter. Once finalized, we can begin the process of adding documents from prior years. If everyone involved is still using the “old” naming convention, then they are more likely to recognize the “old” documents for what they are. 

#sharepoint #SharePoint #metadata #namingconvention