Difference between revisions of "Meaningful filenames"

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(A source text: added SWOT analysis beginning)
(See also: added external links)
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* [[Organise_your_records]]
* [[Organise_your_records]]
* [[Portable_Filenames]]
* [[Portable_Filenames]]
= External links =
* [[http://www.northernjourney.com/photo/articles/filenaming.html File Naming Conventions for Digitally-stored Images]]

Revision as of 16:10, 25 July 2008

After thinking about the limits to how we can structure our files and folder (see Portable_Filenames) the next step is developing a semantic controlled vocabulary.

Before launching too deep into this lets look at what we want to achieve.

  • Understandable filenames
  • Computer readable filenames
  • A system simple enough to remember

To be understandable we need to be able to use full words where appropriate.

To be computer readable we need to seperate the parts in a way which a script can easily recognise and, more importantly, in a way which would never occur in real language. So it would be no good to mark a name section with the word name if we also can use the word name somewhere in the file where it is not meant to be a marker.

To be simple enough to remember the system should not be too complicated, after all GRAMPS is meant to store the real information, this is just a supplement.

What name-parts do we need?

It would be nice if we could have files called

Marriage of Mary Angus Jones and Matthew Williams, 2nd Dec 1923 (William Angus is to Mary's right).jpg

But this meets only one of the criteria above, that of understandable filenames. How can a computer know who got married? what their surnames are? and so on. And anyway because of the limitations of Portable_Filenames we can't have file names like that. We have to drop the reliance on capitalisation, drop the spaces, drop the comma and drop the brackets. To be computer readable we need to separate the sections with a system of markers to indicate where the surname, event name etc are.

So what sections do we want to be able to identify? Here's a basic list that should be enough for most situation, remember that GRAMPS stores the more complex information, we're just trying to give a useful structure to our files.

  • Surname
  • Firstname
  • Date
  • Event type
  • Place
  • Source
  • Note

GEDCOM based

This is a system contributed by Duncan Lithgow.


If we base a naming system on the 3 and 4 letter Lineage-Linked GEDCOM Tag Definition used in the GEDCOM 5.5 standard we have a good long list of tags to chose from. By limiting the GEDCOM tags list we can make the following shortlist (which does not include events):

AUTH-- Author "The name of the individual who created or compiled information."
DATE-- Date
EVEN-- Event "A noteworthy happening related to an individual, a group, or an organization."
GIVN-- Given name "A given or earned name used for official identification of a person."
NAME-- Name, use only if GIVN and SURN are not known "A word or combination of words used to help identify an individual, title, or other item. More than one NAME line should be used for people who were known by multiple names."
NOTE-- Note "Additional information provided by the submitter for understanding the enclosing data."
PLAC-- Place "A jurisdictional name to identify the place or location of an event."
REFN-- Reference "A description or number used to identify an item for filing, storage, or other reference purposes."
SOUR-- Source "The initial or original material from which information was obtained."
SURN-- Surname "A family name passed on or used by members of a family."
TITL-- Title "A description of a specific writing or other work, such as the title of a book when used in a source context, or a formal designation used by an individual in connection with positions of royalty or other social status, such as Grand Duke."

Each marker ends with two hyphens (--). Two because we can't rely on the marker being recognised as capitalised, so a surname like Besour-Jean could be mistaken for beSOUR-Jean and the system thinks that SOUR- marks a source section.


In order for the file name to be parsed as meaningful text I think some we also would need

_ Underscore to represent a space
__ Double underscore to represent a comma followed by a space

Source events

The GEDCOM 5.5 standard defines so few events as to be useless. The GRAMPS XML schema defines no events as these can be made by the user. This all seems fair enough since events are highly culture based. The situations where I think a set of events should be defined are those which will be connected with source records. GEDCOM has a reasonable group of those but they are heavily based in western christian culture. The solution must be language and culture dependent. Here's my list:

marriage is for an actual marriage event and all the associated documentation, including possible divorce and separation documentation.
birth is for the actual birth records, also christening record
death is for death records
census is for census records
civic is for military service records, and government records of any type
health is for health records

An event image file

File name:


This could be parsed (by GRAMPS?) as the description:

Event: Marriage
Surname: Jones
Given name: Mary-jean
Surname: Williams
Given name: Matthew
Date: 2nd Jan, 1923
Note: William angus to the right of mary

or it could make the text:

Mary-jean Jones and Matthew Williams, marriage 2nd Jan 1923. (William angus to the right of mary)

A source image file

File name:


This could be parsed (by GRAMPS?) as the description:

Source: Census
Place: Uk, england, london
Date: 21st March, 1840
Surname: Jones
Given name: Mary-jean

or it could make the text:

Census, Place: Uk, england, london, on 21st March 1840. This is a source connected to Mary-jean Jones

A source text

File name:


This could be read as the description:

Source: Publication
Title: The Jones Family from 1735
Author: Mary Jean Jones
Date: 1872

Or it could make the text:

"The Jones Family from 1735" by Mary Jean Jones, 1872

SWOT analysis

Aspect Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
File length Holds a lot of information All the information is already in the genealogy software Easily recognised. Easy to search for files with a certain Tag ?


This is another attempt by Duncan Lithgow to find a good system.

GRAMPS ID's use the first character to denote the type of item the ID refers to. Taking the most relevant ones this could be converted to the following tags:

I-- Individual
P-- Place
E-- Event
S-- Source
N-- Note

Extending this idea a bit with some more markers for clarity:

GN-- Given name(s)
SN-- Surname
DT-- Date
TL-- Title

...and using the same punctuation and sources as above we get something workable.

An event image file


A source image file


A source text


See also

External links