Geographic Information Science is a field that requires basic computer literacy. The goal of these pages is to help students who are interested in GIS to be certain that they have mastered skills that are necessary to their success in future GIS courses and beyond. One of the criteria for enrollment in GIS courses at the University of West Florida is viewing this material and providing evidence that you possess these minimum competencies through a written exam.
Here you will learn the following concepts:
Save a file with a meaningful name to a specific location.
Recognize different File types and the appropriate uses of each.
Recall and locate where files are being saved.
Use ‘save as’ to create a copy of a file.
Use folders to manage files.
- Unzip a file after it has been downloaded and note where the extracted files are being saved.
File Naming Conventions
Naming folders and files in a consistent, logical and predictable way means that information may be located, identified and retrieved by yourself or colleagues, as quickly and easily as possible. The simple rules apply equally to electronic and physical files and folders. The file name describes, at a glance, what the document is about, making it easier to browse files more effectively and efficiently.
File Names should be:
- Indicate what the file contains
- Reflect how you work with your information (what is significant, what is most likely searched for, who the audience is)
- Naturally ordered
- Consistent and understood by everyone
Click on each of the following rules for more information and examples.
File names should be kept as short as possible while also being meaningful. Avoid using initials, abbreviations and codes that are not commonly understood. This is particularly important for records which have to be kept for a long period of time as the meaning of the acronym may not be known over time.
Why? Some words add length to a file name but do not contribute towards the meaning, for example words like “the”, “a”, and “and”. Where the remaining file name is still meaningful within the context of the file directory these elements can be removed. Sometimes words have standard abbreviations, e.g. “Wk” is a standard abbreviation for “week”; where this is the case the standard abbreviation can be used.
Avoid redundancy in file names and file paths. Unnecessary repetition increases the length of file names and file paths which is incompatible with rule 1. This rule assumes that appropriate file structures are in place to support the efficient management of documents.
Why? The folder and subfolder that contains this file are called “GIS4043” and "Lab4" respectively. It is not necessary to include these words in the file name because all the records in that folder are GIS 4043, Lab 4 documents.
It may be appropriate to include within a file name the name of an individual, usually when the record is a piece of correspondence. When it is appropriate to include a personal name it should be given as last name first followed by initials, with no comma, as it is most likely that the record will be retrieved according to the last name of the individual.
Why? This is a document that belongs to Samuel R Brown. By putting your last name first the file directory will display this file next to the B's, which is where you (and your instructors) would expect to find a document belonging to Mr. Brown.
Avoid using common words such as ‘draft’ or ‘letter’ at the start of file names, or all of those records will appear together in the file directory, making it more difficult to retrieve the records you are looking for.
If these words help with searching for your file, you may want to ignore this rule sometimes.
Why? The file directory will list files in alphanumeric order. This means that all records with file names starting “Draft” will be listed together. When retrieving files it will be more useful to find the draft document next to the final document rather than next to an unrelated draft document.
Different operating systems (e.g. Linux, OS X, Windows) have different file name requirements, in particular different characters that they do not recognise in file names. The use of these characters can cause problems. Even if your operating system allows you to save the file you may encounter difficulties if you try to transport the file to another operating system, for example the file may not be recognised, or if you send it to someone else they may not be able to open it. It is therefore recommended that you avoid the use of non-alphanumeric characters in filenames. In general, avoid: * : \ / < > | " ? [ ] ; = + & £ $ , . However, hyphens (-) may be used.
Why? Most non-alphanumeric characters can be omitted without much loss of meaning, e.g. commas and quotation marks. Others can be replaced with alphanumeric characters, e.g. "&" and "+" can be replaced with "And" and "Plus". Hyphens can be used in place of forward slashes and brackets.
Windows file names have two parts; the file's name, then a period followed by the extension (suffix). The extension is a three- or four-letter abbreviation that signifies the file type. For example, in letter.docx the filename is letter and the extension is docx. Extensions are important because they tell your computer what icon to use for the file, and what application can open the file. For example, the doc extension tells your computer that the file is a Microsoft Word file.
If you want to open a MAC OS X file in Windows, you may need to add the extension to a MAC OS X file name so Windows can recognize it. For example, if you have a Word 6 MAC OS X document named letter that you want to open in Windows, you need to rename the file letter.docx so that Word in Windows will recognize and open the file.
|File extension||File Type|
|.AIFF or .AIF||Audio Interchange File Format|
|.BAT||PC batch file|
|.CLASS or .JAVA||Java files|
|.CSV||Comma separated, variable length file (Open in Excel)|
|.DBF||dbase II, III, IV data|
|.DIF||Data Interchange format|
|.DOC or .DOCX||Microsoft Word for Windows/Word97|
|.FM3||Filemaker Pro databases (the numbers following represent the version #)|
|.GIF||Graphics Interchange Format|
|.HTM or .HTML||Web page source text|
|.JPG or JPEG||JPEG graphic|
|.MAP||Web page imagemap|
|.MDB||MS Access database|
|.MID or .MIDI||MIDI sound|
|.MOV or .QT||QuickTime Audio/Video|
|.MTB or .MTW||MiniTab|
|Acrobat -Portable document format|
|PageMaker (the numbers following represent the version #) P=publication, T=template|
|.PNG||Public Network graphic|
|.PPT or .PPTX||PowerPoint|
|.RTF||Rich Text Format|
|.SIT||Stuffit Compressed Archive|
|.TAR||UNIX TAR Compressed Archive|
|.TXT||ASCII text (Mac text does not contain line feeds--use DOS Washer Utility to fix)|
|.WK3||Lotus 1-2-3 (the numbers following represent the version #)|
|WPD or .WP5||WordPerfect (the numbers following represent the version #)|
|.XLS or .XLSX||Excel spreadsheet|
|.ZIP||PC Zip Compressed Archive|
|Name of Format||Sample File Name||Description|
|Vector (& Sometimes Raster) Data|
|Arc Export||Wetlands.E00||This is a proprietary file format used to distribute Arc/Info datasets. Topology and attributes are properly maintained in this format.|
|Arc Shape||See description||Shape files are used in ArcView. A shape file actually consists of 3-6 separate files (ending in .dbf, .shx, .shp, .sbx, .sbn, etc.) and might be delivered as a single ZIP'ped file. Shape files do not have topology.|
|Zip||Wetlands.ZIP||One or more files compressed and consolidated into a single binary file. Use WinZIP to uncompress and extract the contents of the ZIP file.|
|Geodatabase||Town.MDB||One or more feature classes and raster datasets stored in a Microsoft Access database file (=personal geodatabase) or a series of files and folders (=file geodatabase). File geodatabases are preferred.|
|Self Extracting Zip||Wetlands.EXE||The same as above, but does not require WINZIP to uncompress and extract the contents. Simply double click on the EXE file and it will unzip itself.|
|MIF||Wetlands.MIF||Map InFo vector format. MapInfo is a popular GIS software product.|
|DXF||Wetlands.DXF||These are drawing files from CAD systems.|
|DWG||Wetlands.DWG||These are drawing files from CAD systems.|
|DGN||Wetlands.DGN||A file format used by some CAD systems (e.g., Design files from Bentley MicroStation)|
|TIGER||TIGER files contain the data from our national censuses.|
|VPF||Wetlands.VPF||Vector Product Format is commonly used in military applications.|
|DLG||Wetlands.DLG||Digital Line Graph file format is common on some government web systems and and is a way to move data from one GIS system to another.|
|SDTS||Wetlands.SDTS||The Spatial Data Transfer Standard format is designed to be the single, standard file format for distributing spatial data. The USGS uses SDTS as a common format already.|
|TIFF||Wetlands.TIF||An image file format. The resolution can be very good and the image can be georeferenced (meaning that you can overlay other GIS data on top). The georeferencing often accompanies the TIF file as a second file called the TIFF world file and carries an extension like .tfw. TIFF files can be very large, there is little compression.|
|GIFF||Wetlands.GIF||A common format for image data. GIF does not support georegistration. Image resolution can be excellent and file sizes modest.|
|JPEG||Wetlands.JPG||A common format for image data. JPEG can support georegistration. Image resolution can be excellent and file sizes can be quite small. JPEG compresses images nicely but there can be some loss of resolution.|
|SID||Wetlands.SID||A very efficient compression format for image data. Many GIS data viewers can directly read images compressed using "Mr. SID" compression tools.|
|DEM||Elevation.DEM||Topographic data sometimes come as DEM's -- Digital Elevation Models -- a format used by USGS.|
|LAN||Wetlands.LAN||A file format used by Erdas image processing software.|
|IMG||Wetlands.IMG||Erdas Imagine uses this format for satellite and other image data.|
|BIL||Wetlands.BIL||Band Interleaved format is a common format for distributing satellite image data.|
|BSQ||Wetlands.BSQ||Band SeQuential format is a common format for distributing satellite image data.|
|VRML||Paris.VRML||Virtual Reality Markup Language -- a web-based format for viewing 3-D animations. Frequently used for displaying fly-over animations in GIS and manipulating 3-D renderings of spatial data.|
|ArcMap Project||TOWN.MXD||A file containing an ArcMap project document.|
These lists are by no means complete. If the file extension you are using is not listed here, you may find the information by looking in the software manual or software application's Web site.
Showing File Extensions
If none of your file names have extensions, file extensions are hidden. To show file extensions:
|1. In the File Explorer, click the "View" tab and select the check box next to "File name extensions."|
|You can also follow these instructions, which will work for older versions of Windows.|
|1. Click on the start menu and type "Show hidden files and folders," then press the enter key or select that option from the list of results.|
|2. In the "View" tab, make uncheck the option "Hide extensions for known file types."|
|3. Click "Apply" then "OK".|
Searching by File extensions
Sometimes you may want to search for all files of a certain type. For example, you may want to find a .pst file or a .mp3 file on your computer. Follow these steps to search for a file extension.
|1. Click on the Start menu or search bar and type "*" followed by the file extension you wish to search (ex. *.jpg) and hit the "Enter" key.|
|2. Windows will now search for files ending in the specified extension.|
Use ‘save as’ to create a copy of a file or save as a different format.
To save a file in Microsoft Office programs, follow these steps:
- On the File menu, click Save As.
- In the Save As box, type a name for the document.
- Choose the Format type such as Word Document (.docx) or another format you would like.
- By default, the file is saved in the Documents folder. If you want to save the file in a different folder, change the Where box to the different folder.
- By default, the file is saved with the following extensions:
- When you save an Excel worksheet, Excel Workbook (.xlsx) is listed in the Format box.
- When you save a PowerPoint presentation, PowerPoint Presentation (.pptx) is listed in the Format box.
- When you save a Word document, Word Document (.docx) is listed in the Format box.
- Click Save
To save a file in a different file format, follow these steps.
- On the File menu, click Save As.
- In the Save As box, type a name for the document. By default, the file is saved in the Documents folder. If you want to save the file in a different folder, change the Where box to the other folder.
- In the Format box, select the new format in which you want to save the file. For example:
- If you want to save an Excel workbook in an earlier version of the Excel file format, select Excel 97–2004 Workbook (.xls).
- If you want to save a PowerPoint presentation in an earlier version of the PowerPoint file format, select PowerPoint 97–2004 Presentation (.ppt).
- If you want to save a Word document in an earlier version of the Word file format, select Word 97–2004 Document (.doc).
- Choose PDF if you want to save the file in PDF format. Only save the document as a PDF once the document has been completed, once it is saved as a PDF it can no longer be modified within Word.
- Click Save.
When you save a file in a different file format, some features that are supported by the current file format may be lost. You may want to save a copy of your file in the current file format before you save the file in a different file format.
Use folders to manage files.
You can easily manage your files and folders using File Explorer in the Desktop view.
File Explorer (previously known as Windows Explorer) allows you to open, access, and rearrange your files and folders in Desktop view. If you've used prior versions of Windows before, File Explorer should feel like a familiar way to manage and organize your files.
- Click the folder icon on the taskbar in Desktop view to open File Explorer.
To change the content view:
The View tab makes it easy to change the way files are displayed within a folder. For example, you may prefer to see your files as a list when viewing documents and as large icons when viewing pictures. Select the View tab, and then choose your preference from the Layout group.
To sort files:
Depending on the folder, you may also want to sort your files. For example, you can sort files by size, name, date created, date modified, file type, and much more. Select the View tab, click the Sort by button, and then choose your preference from the drop-down menu.
Recall and locate your saved files
Searching with File Explorer
In addition to the Search feature found on the Charms bar, you can also search for files directly from File Explorer using the Search bar. File Explorer also offers more advanced search options, which can be especially helpful if you're having trouble finding a specific file.
To use the Search bar:
- Locate and select the Search bar in File Explorer.
- Enter a file name or keyword. Your search results will appear as you type.
The Search Tools tab
Whenever you enter a term into the search bar, the Search Tools tab will open automatically on the Ribbon. This tab gives you access to advanced search options, which allow you to limit your search by file type, size and date modified, view your recent searches, and more.
Zip a file for upload
Zipped (compressed) files take up less storage space and can be transferred to other computers more quickly than uncompressed files. In Windows, you work with zipped files and folders in the same way that you work with uncompressed files and folders. Combine several files into a single zipped folder to more easily share a group of files.
Unzip a file after it has been downloaded
Zipping allows multiple files to be packaged into a single small bundle. Zipping is commonly used for emailing attachments and internet downloads. Read below to learn how to unzip or "extract" zipped files.
Pages on this Topic