Come File With Me…
Matt Brown asked in Sunday's Surgery about recommendations for a logical filing system.
I always hesitate to offer my own template/system/practice as a model for others unless it's something I've been taught by an older, wiser head somewhere in the distant mists of pre-history, when phones came attached to houses and you moved large files by splitting a Stuffit Archive across multiple 1.44Mb floppies. Plus, filing systems are a bit subjective -- I've never figured out why people object to the way iTunes files their MP3s if left to its own devices… I mean, who wouldn't want their music organized Folder: Artist/ Folder: Album/File: Track …?
On the other hand, simplistic as it is, here's an illustration of how I keep my files organized. Top level directory (with an alias on the desktop and again in the sidebar of Finder windows) unsurprisingly called Lettering, contains an Admin folder, inside which there are folders for each publisher, inside which invoices and contracts are kept. Then there's a folder for each publisher, inside which the structure goes:
Project Name/ Issue Number/
Inside Issue Number is a folder for Artwork (with sub folders for Colour and B&W if you start working on pencils before the colours are ready), a folder called AI Editable, and ones called TIFF Final and EPS Final.
(These last two are for outputting files and may not be necessary depending on how your publisher wants the files submitting.)
AI Editable contains the live lettering files, which are similarly named something logical like ProjectName_IssueNo_Lettered_PgXX.ai … you can then record an action with the necessary export settings specified by your publisher and then use AI's 'Batch' function to export everything in the AI Editable folder into the relevant TIFF or EPS (or PDF or whatever) folder.
Once the job is signed off, I always clear out the exported files, since these can always be re-exported from the original AI documents with minimal effort.
Getting My Back Up
Whilst we're on the subject of house-keeping, I'm going to mention backing up.
Time Machine on OSX 10.5 and higher is great, and a real life-saver when you accidentally overwrite a file, but you also need a proper back-up and archiving strategy, too. It's possible to become over-paranoid about the levels of redundancy you require, but you need to keep two things in mind:
Optical media degrades. Don't believe me? Go find a data back-up CD-R that you wrote five years ago and stick it in your CD drive. I did this with a stack of them recently, and discovered that half of them didn't work.
Hard drives fail. I had two, bought separately and used for different purposes, fail within a fortnight of each other. One with no warning at all, the other with a brief bout of chugging noises and then nothing. Everyone seems to swear by a different brand of HDD, and everyone seems to have a horror story about a different brand of HDD.
Going forward, my strategy is to use an external drive as an archive, and to assume that it won't last more than two years. At eighteen months, I plan to migrate all the data onto a brand new drive and relegate the old one to a back-up of the main, new archive.
There are plenty of free back-up utilities available on the internet -- for the Mac, I like CarbonCopyCloner, although I know plenty of people have other favourites. Feel free to share any recommendations in the Comments section.
By Order of the Management
Still in the same general area of computer housekeeping, I've also been asked about font management and keeping track of your fonts.
I know there are lots of people who like font management software, and Extensis and Linotype both make font managers that are well spoken of.
However, I've never got on with font managers; I've always found them disruptive to my workflow and you're unlikely to have a vast number of lettering fonts. I'm a complete font nut -- I even ask for them as Christmas presents! -- and I have about 90 individual fonts, which represent about thirty actual faces. Before I install a purchased font, I use OSX's Finder Labels to colour code the file itself, and I only ever install them in the Username/Library/Font directory, so that they're easy to find and identify.
It's a bit rough and ready, but it works…