File Names on Server Volumes

Contributor II

This question is not JAMF related. It is targeted toward anyone that can provide more information about a problem that I find little information about, but can cause big issues; file names.

We have about 600 Macs working in a publishing system, primarily using Adobe InDesign/ InCopy, working off of Windows 2008 servers providing AFP via Group Logic's ExtremeZ-IP. We have automated scripts that run on files post-production to facilitate multi-destination output (print, epub. web, etc…).

For several years, the Technology Division has championed best practice for naming production files and folders on all of our corporate network volumes.
The recommended naming convention can be distilled down to these minimal requirements: • Individual files names should be 31 characters or less • File names must contain exactly one period ".", used to separate the file name from the extension • Upper or lower case letters of the alphabet may be used • Numbers 0 - 9 may be used • The underscore “_” and the dash “-” may be used • Folder names must not contain a period "."
Example: Sample_File-9.txt

We have made these recommendations because many applications, scripts and other processes break when operator characters (such as $, &, ?, /, |) are used in file or folder names (including anywhere in the file path on a server volume). Adobe InDesign, Egnyte (cloud file sharing), UNIX scripts, etc… have well documented issues with these characters in the file and folder names. Because of the persistent issues, we have communicated with the business units and directly to end users to avoid using these "illegal" characters.
To aid users keep files and folders named correctly, we created a script that would examine a directory (and all subdirectories) and replace any illegal character with an underscore "_". That script is installed and available on all production systems.

Current State
We continue to have issues with files and folders in production areas that contain "illegal" characters or use a legal character in an inappropriate manner (e.g. a "." in a folder name). Nearly 100% of the corrupt InDesign/ InCopy files that we have to repair has an illegal character in the file name, in the name of a linked file, or in the enclosing folder or path.

We have communicated the critical nature of adhering to this naming convention numerous times; in emails directly to the users, in meetings with management and even through printed intranet articles. Nothing changed. Last year, the Infrastructure team turned notifications on the production server volumes that warned users when they used an illegal file name. It allowed the user to override and save anyway, but the idea was to make them aware and hopefully change their behavior. Nothing changed. They simply click through the notice.

As we migrate more products to multiple output channels–as we automate more processes–the need for consistency and reliability of our files increases exponentially. we have the ability to turn on enforcement that prevents files with characters we designate from being used. We have setup a Windows 2012 Server with a volume setup in this manner. We quickly discovered that we have to allow the " " space character and the "~" tilde character.

• If we disallow the space, new folders a cannot be created–Apple auto-names a new folder "Untitled folder" by default… Arrrgh. • Adobe writes a temporary lock file anytime an InDesign file is opened to prevent simultaneous editing and that invisible file name starts with a "~". Arrrgh.

There are probably other situations like this that I just haven't thought of, and may overlook in a few days of testing, so…

What experience do you guys have with this? What other hidden "gotchas" should I be looking for?


Contributor II


Valued Contributor

It's unfortunate, but we can't get our users to properly name their files either.

Other than education to the users, I don't know of a way to enforce it. Other than to clean up after the fact with something like Better Finder Renamer. I liken it to the fact that after 50+ years of on campus parking, we still have to issue parking tickets to people that don't follow the rules.

Another issue we have seen is that Mac users will create very long file names with very long subfolder names and then very long file names. Eventually Windows users will hit the 256 total character path name limit and that causes issues to them.

Contributor II

Contributor II

Enforcement is not a problem - ExtremeZ-IP can easily do it. We can check a box and certain characters will not be allowed.

My question is; "what kinds of issues can this cause that I have not anticipated?"

Here is what I have discovered so far…
We have to allow the " " space character. New folders cannot be created by the Mac OS without it.

We have to allow the "~" tilde character. All Adobe .lck files require it. These files are auto-created by Adobe InDesign to prevent simultaneous editing.

We have to allow "$" because Adobe requires it to write .lck files for InDesign documents that contain InCopy stories.

We have to allow "(" because Adobe requires it to write .lck files for InDesign documents that contain InCopy stories.

We have to allow ")" because Adobe requires it to write .lck files for InDesign documents that contain InCopy stories.