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Choosing a file extension

I'm thinking of using a six-character file extension for data files produced by my application.  The application currently runs on Unix systems, but will be ported later to OSX and Windows.

How do you feel about file extensions which are not three characters long?
-L Send private email
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
Starting with Windows 95 (and the "long filenames"), the "extension" is just "the thing after the last dot", nothing more. Total commander will show it in the "extension" column, Windows explorer might hide it, but I don't think the OS makes any difference.
smalltalk Send private email
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
As the previous poster said, there's really no need to constrain yourself by three character extensions these days. One of my pet peeves is applications that re-use an existing three character extension and change the file association quietly on install. Do yourself and your users a favor and use as many characters as you need to make your file extension unique.
Former COBOL Programmer
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
Thanks for the advice. I'll go with the easily identifiable and longer extension.
-L Send private email
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
this is very similar to another pet peeve of mine: short button labels. People, people, pixels are free, there's no reason other than visual aesthetics why button labels should be only one short word. Be clear, it goes such a long way.
Steve Hirsch Send private email
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
Hey, .NET uses ".config" files all the time. So even Microsoft is using 6 character extensions now.
Chris Tavares Send private email
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
Just please don't put a 'space' character in the extension.  I think Windows might have a problem with that, even now.
AllanL5
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 
 
Another suggestion -- don't pick a name where the first three characters match a common extension.  There's still some weirdness even in XP where it'll truncate extensions to three characters.  For example, entering "del *.htm" at the command prompt will delete not only .htm files but also .html or .htmwhatever files (this behavior seems to be configurable so it might not be the case on every XP machine).
SomeBody Send private email
Thursday, December 29, 2005
 
 
"For example, entering "del *.htm" at the command prompt will delete not only .htm files but also .html or .htmwhatever files."

I think this is because .htm and .html are the same type "HTML Document" if you mess with either one in File Types under folder options, it will change the other unless you make one of them a different type.
Zach M.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
 
 
"People, people, pixels are free, there's no reason other than visual aesthetics why button labels should be only one short word."

Yes there is; people don't read long text:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000062.html
Kyralessa Send private email
Thursday, December 29, 2005
 
 
"People, people, pixels are free, there's no reason other than visual aesthetics why button labels should be only one short word."

Whoever said pixels are free? They may be in greater abundance, but the number of them is still finite. Therefore, in the economics of screen real estate, they may be cheaper than before, but they are not yet free.
Iceman
Friday, December 30, 2005
 
 
Don't ask _us_ whether pixels are free.  Ask the milliondollarhomepage guy.  :)
Kyralessa Send private email
Monday, January 02, 2006
 
 
The longest extension I've seen yet:
.Civ4WorldBuilderSave
Dan Maas
Thursday, January 05, 2006
 
 
No one actually sees the file extensions if the file type is registered.  Your worries should be (in descending order):

a) Icon

b) Uniqueness of your file extension so you can 'own' that extension

c) Readability of your extension in the standard Explorer window, assuming the users can somehow see your file extension.  This was your question.

d) Readability of your extension in an 8.3-truncated format.  This was the other part of your question.


As I was saying, the most identifiable feature of your filename is the icon; the only other thing you really have to worry about is whether or not someone has already registered your extension for THEIR program.
pds Send private email
Sunday, January 08, 2006
 
 

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