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Chapter Five. Unification > File Names and Structures

5-3. File Names and Structures

Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence of the United States of America

Because the restriction of file name length to 8 characters in earlier systems was truly dreadful, the 31-character maximum length offered by the Macintosh looked like heaven to many users. But this modification was just a different-size straitjacket. Aside from the real limits of the hardware, an interface should have few, if any, fixed-length limits. An interface should use dynamic memory allocation, linked lists, hashing, or whatever techniques seem best but should never present a user with software implementation limitations, such as “you can have up to 255 categories” or “paragraphs can be up to 32,000 characters.”[2]

[2] A word processor I once used quite a while ago had this paragraph size limit. I exceeded it as soon as I inserted a photograph into a paragraph; when I spoke to the designers, they admitted they had never thought of that. The moral: Never put in a fixed limit because it makes the software easier to write; it will always be too small.


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