Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bulk Rename Utility Saves Time and Improves Work Flow

In this digital age, all those skills we learned about organizing paper files are now being used to manage digital files. And textbook authors have a LOT of digital files to organize, including

  • Chapter drafts (previous edition, first draft, revised draft, copyedited draft, etc.)
  • Page proofs (first round, first round with author comments, second round, etc.)
  • Reviews
  • Research articles and other resources
  • Correspondence

I find that besides organizing such files into disk folders with descriptive names and nested in a logical manner that makes them easy to find, the filename of each file is critically important. When I have such files open on my desktop screen or attached to an email or located in a publisher's file management platform, I'm not always clear on what file version I'm really looking at. However, if I'm careful to use filenames that tell me this information, I have less of a concern.

At the beginning of a new revision process, I usually get files from the previous edition to use as the starting point. The individual chapter files often have some esoteric name that means something to the folks that created these files—but not necessarily very meaningful to me. For example, there may be as many as four extra leading zeroes. I guess that's to allow for books that have hundreds or thousands of chapters. Sometimes these filenames include the ISBN number of the previous edition of the book. Like that's going to help me.

I usually go in and change the names of all those chapter files to something more helpful to me as I progress through the revision process. For example, I'll include the chapter number. But I only need one leading zero before the single-digit chapter numbers. That goes first, to make the file list in the folder easy to navigate.

By the way, if you forget to use leading zeroes, then chapter 2 will be listed after chapter 19 and chapter 3 will be listed after chapter 29. Leading zeroes put them where they belong.

I also add in a shorthand telling me the title and edition number I'm working on. So Structure & Function of the Body 15th edition becomes SF15e and Anatomy & Physiology 9th edition becomes AP9e.

Then I append something that tells me what version I'm dealing with. For example, draft1 or copyedit or pages1. If these are versions that contain my responses to copyediting, then I'll also append my initials or name, such as kp or kpatton

I usually separate each of these shorthand units with a hyphen to make them easier to read at a glance. For example, 03-AP9e-copyedit-kpatton is the version that has my responses to the copyedited version of chapter three for Anatomy & Physiology 9th edition.

This seems like an awful lot of drone work, doesn't it? I agree that it would be if I typed in these filename changes in the usual way. But I don't. It literally takes me a few seconds to change the filenames of all 48 chapter files—plus several files for the glossary, front/back matter, appendices, etc. How can that be, you ask? I use a handy, cost-free tool called Bulk Rename Utility.

Whenever you open Bulk Rename Utility, you'll see this screen:

As the online tutorial advises, "The first thing to do is DO NOT PANIC!" It goes on to advise the user who has just picked themselves up off the floor that you don't really have to use all the controls available in the dashboard. Basic functionality—even advanced functionality—is really much simpler than it may seem with this complex screen that to me resembles the dashboard of one of those huge airliners.

You don't believe me. You think this is way over your head—something only your 11-year-old computer-gaming nephew will be able to handle. Because I know this, I've provided this video that proves how unbelievably simple it is for even we of The Beverly Hillbillies generation can handle.

If you want a video that also walks you through the installation process (and shows you how to rename image files) then click here Renaming Files Using Bulk Rename Utility.

For more tips like this one, come to my workshop Strategies to Make Your Textbook Workflow More Efficient at the 2016 TAA Conference.

No comments:

Post a Comment