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Naming conventions

Oct 18 2014

Introduction

 

Keeping everything organised while you're developing your online course can become problematic as you often end up with hundreds of files, pages and resources for each course....

Even more difficult is when you have multiple courses, the last thing you want is 20 images titled 'Welcome'. If you're building within a Content Management System like the Janison CLS then each Course, Module, Page and Panel needs a unique identifier.

After building courses for nearly 15 years the information below represents the most efficient way I've found to keep everything organised. Keep in mind we develop content for multiple customers so most of our resources are prefixed by the Customer Code.  This may not be applicable to you, but if you're building your content to go onto a site with a sub-domain model like the Australian Sports Commission system then you'll need to include this to ensure your course does not conflict with an existing one.

Please note, if you're working with Canopi please ring and get your customer code to prefix all of your resources otherwise your content may not load properly when you move it to the production site.

Structure

For everything we create we have a naming structure that goes like this:

  1. The first two characters are the customer code
  2. The next number is the resource type. 1 for online courses, 2 for exams and so on.
  3. The next two characters are a sequential resource code AA for the first, AB for the second etc
  4. The next two numbers are the module code
  5. The next two numbers are the page code (increases by 5 for each page)

So for example our customer code for our own work is AC, our code for courses is 1, so therefore our first online course code would be AC1AA.

The first module would be called AC1AA01, the second AC1AA02 etc. If we have an introduction module we will often code this as AC1AA00 so that the courseware starts at 1.

The first page in our first module would be AC1AA0100, then AC1AA0105, then AC1AA0110 remember they go up by 5 in case you need to add some pages in between later on.

With the panels on a page we then add sequential letters to the code. a for the first panel, b for the second etc.  

Resources

So with this naming convention we can then codify all of our resources.  If I'm preparing an image that will go on the page panel AC1AA0105b then I would just name the image AC1AA0105b.jpg. A word document for the page would be AC1AA0105b.docx etc

With images we often have to develop them in Photoshop with layers and effects and this creates a PSD that we need to save somewhere but the file itself will never go on the site. We therefore save these resources in Z_resources folder.  You can see this folder structure in the section below.

Folder Structures

To keep everything organised nicely on our local machine or network drive and on the site we have some strict rules around the folder structures.

On our local network drive (could be your local machine as well) we have an area called production, in that we have a folder for each client, in that, we have a folder for each project or course and inside that we have a folder structure for the modules. These folder are prefixed by the code but have the common language name of the resource appended to end of the name.

On your learning management system you should remove these extensions to keep the folder names shorter.

NEVER have a blank characters in folder or resource names. Quite often these resources can't be served up by the server because the blank characters don't get converted properly. 

Re-Usable resources

Often we have some resources that we want to use more than once throughout a course.  There is little point and it is bad practice to have multiple copies of the same resource otherwise if the resource was updated you might have to update 5 copies of it on the Learning system.  An example of this might be a Code of Practice  for an organisation.

In these situation we create a Resources folder at the same level as the modules and put one copy of the resource in that and link to from the content.

Again make sure these documents and resources don't have spaces in their names.  Remove the spaces and capitalise each word. For example CodeOfPractice.docx

Advantages

There are many advantages to working in this way with your resources.

  • All of the folders and resources within those folders will be in the order that they appear to the learner making it faster to find items
  • The Z_DevResources folder which often has big files in it doesn't ever have to go on the live site
  • If you're away or leave then the next person who works on the resources can easily find things
  • If a file accidentally gets dropped in the wrong folder or onto your desktop you can easily work out where it belongs
  • If you looking for something it will be really easy to find it
  • You never end up with duplicate resources, everything is unique and discoverable

 

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