Naming Conventions

All computers, starting from your desktop PC or a laptop and ending with the most powerful machines employed by the military need operating systems in order to function. Think of it this way: just as your car, be it a Yugo or a Rolls Royce, wouldn't move without gas, so the computers would not work without operating systems. Right now, there are four major families of operating system in wide use: Windows95, Windows 3.1, UNIX and MacOS.

This note will discuss the naming conventions in three of them: Windows95, Windows 3.1 and UNIX. The machines in your lab run Windows95. Some of the programs on those machines were written for Windows 3.1. You don't come in direct contact with UNIX in this class, but the Grendel site (including the projects posted on it) resides on a machine that runs UNIX, and so you still need to know about it.

All three operating systems have different conventions for naming files. In UNIX, the names are case-sensitive, and are of unlimited length. In Windows95, the length is limited to 256 characters (which is way more than what you really need, anyway), but the spelling is not case-sensitive. And in Windows 3.1, the names abide by the so-called "8.3" law: up to 8 letters in the name itself and up to 3 letters in its extension. The spelling is not case-sensitive either.

Even though the Web was designed in such a way that it can be browsed from any browser on any computer running any operating system, Web pages still reside on specific computers that have specific file naming requirements. As was mentioned, the Grendel site lives on a computer that runs UNIX. That means that extra attention has to be paid to the case of the letters in the file names.

Windows doesn't often display the case correctly, and sometimes, when a file with a long name is transferred from a Windows95 program to a Windows 3.1 program, its name gets truncated in a weird way. Since only a person familiar with Windows interfaces can distinguish which program it is, it can be quite frustrating figuring out why your paging suddenly don't link, or why your graphics appear broken.

Below is a simple set of guidelines, which were designed to make you not to worry about all this. As long as you go by them, you don't have to remember all the exact differences between the three systems.