UPDATE: Read the follow up post ‘Adobe’s Listening

Every designer reading the title of this post will understand what I am talking about, because we’ve all been there once before.

For obvious reasons most things on the computer are organized using a certain structure, it is just makes sense that way. Bigger to smaller, first to last, newer to older, top to bottom, and so on. Computers usually do a great job at organizing linear data, but when humans become involved with this data it can easily and quickly become a mess.

Bad file naming

Try, try, and try again we all seem to end up in this same situation every once and a while. Sure, sometimes we are better at in than other times, and sure we teach ourselves little tricks to help prevent it, but it seems to be a curse which follows us. Sometimes you need to make a simple change to the color of the logo, and 30 minutes later you find yourself with 5 new versions, 3 which you exported to JPG, 2 of which you had to change to RGB to upload to the website, etc. It’s a mess, and there should be an easier way. Sure it’s partially our fault, but I’d rather blame Adobe. Therefore, my open letter to Adobe:

“Dear Adobe,

I’m kind of sitting here online with a couple million designers, and we think you should fix this.


My proposal:

Every project we work on should be a single master file. This master file will act as a container, in which every version, revision, edition, etc will be found.

Here is a basic version of what should be in the file

future of file hierarchy

The project file should allow the user to open the file and view snapshots of each file revision, that way it will be easy for us to know which one to open, and to have a quick overview of all of the designs, version history, etc.

Similar to Adobe’s approach to PDFs, they should make an application (similar to Adobe Reader) to view these project files without having to purchase Adobe CS3 software, or even open it (darn loading times!).

Let’s call this Adobe ProjectReader, for now =)

ProjectReader would be a simplified yet extended version of Adobe Bridge. It should allow us to quickly browse through project files, compare them, and export files to necessary formats.

For example, I recently made a logo for a client, and upon delivery of the final version, I ended up sending him a plethora of files (AI, JPGs both large and small, both RGB and CMYK, TIFF, and PDFS), obviously they were neatly categorized in folders, and so on, but we should be able to overcome problems like these with a simple application.

Imagine how convenient it would be, if you could send your client a single master which he then will be able to export to any necessary format, whether it be a .PDF for easy printing or a small RGB JPG for online use.

But it will take a while for my dream software, ProjectReader, to come out… until then, what are your tips for file naming?

UPDATE: Read the follow up post ‘Adobe’s Listening


  1. Joshua McMichael - August 3, 2007 | Permalink

    They already have a solution (to many of the problems you’ve mention): VersionCue.

    The application to access VersionCue servers is called Bridge, and doesn’t require activation (although you can’t get it separate from a CS3 installation – you can install it and use it anywhere).

    Check it out.

  2. Joel Laumans - August 3, 2007 | Permalink


    You’re right, Version Cue does solve many of the problems which I mentioned (File versions especially) but most people tend to agree that is a decent application which could use some major improvements. (For me it was just the application with the annoying icon in the taskbar taking up my memory…sigh)

    To be honest I haven’t touched VersionCue since it came out, but I think I will give it another shot after reading your comment.

  3. anon - August 3, 2007 | Permalink

    Version control systems have been an absolutely vital tool for software development for decades. As a result, there are plenty of tools out there to manage this kind of problem.

    There’s no reason something like Subversion of CVS couldn’t be used for graphic design work.

  4. Jerry - August 6, 2007 | Permalink

    Version FINAL2b, eh? Yeah, I have plenty of finals of the final of the final. :)

    But yeah, version control for software development is great. I’ve never used Version Cue as I simply don’t have terabytes of hard drive capacity for all those extra Photoshop files. I say this because I have the feeling I would be much more liberal in saving lots and lots of intermediate versions with Version Cue.

  5. Gunar - August 7, 2007 | Permalink

    Joel -

    Hey, interesting ideas. We have some of what you want in Version Cue but are also missing a few pieces.

    I’m interested on your take on automatic versioning versus check in/out and if there are other alternatives.

    I’d love to talk talk you more about this to see what we can refine in CS4.

    Jerry – BTW – the latest version of VC can store file differences rather than the whole file versions, cutting down on space used.

    Product Manager, Adobe

  6. Winfred - January 26, 2013 | Permalink

    Howdy, I am new to blogging and internet sites in general and was wondering how you got the “www”
    included in your web address name? I see your domain, “http://piksels.com/logoedited_pink2b_real_final2bjpg/” has the www and my domain looks like, “http://mydomain.com”.

    Do you know the way I can change this? I’m using WordPress. Appreciate it

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