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Chapter 3. Organizing Your Content > Considering File Management

Considering File Management

You might think of file management as boring and tedious, but it's necessary. Whether you're building a site that multiple people will maintain or you're working alone, make sure you have a plan for managing files. As you work on a Web project, you accumulate a lot of files — Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, images, audio, HTML, sketches or notes on paper, and so on — and developing a logical method of organizing these documents is essential to the project. Part of the file management process includes keeping copies of original files, for these (and other) reasons:

  • Future reference: Suppose you need to reconstruct a page or section of a Web site. If you back up your entire site periodically (which is a good practice in case of a major problem with your Web servers), you can easily backtrack and redo that part.

  • Repurposing content: In many cases, you can repurpose existing print content, such as logos, fliers, product catalogs, and so on, to the Web site. Naturally, you want to keep copies of all of those resources. With these resources at hand, you can

    • Pull up the original quickly and make changes.

    • Keep track of the original content.

    • Build a source of information for other parts of your project.

    While, for the most part, the information stays the same from print to Web, the layout changes. You might find that you need only parts of the material on a particular page. For instance, if you have a presentation that has five slides with bullet points, you might want to condense the information to three bullet points for the Web. Two months after you launch your site, if you decide to freshen the content and give your visitors even more information, you can refer back to the original document and add those other bullet points.

  • Revision of graphics: With most images, whether they're photos or art, you edit them, apply effects, or add them to other elements and use the finished version of the images on the Web. If you crop and prepare your photos and other graphics for use on your Web site without saving the originals, you can't revise the images as easily. Keeping a copy of the originals ensures that you can reuse the graphics with the most flexibility. To keep a copy, just choose File⇨Save As and name the file something descriptive.

    When revising a file, do a File⇨Save As and change the name immediately after opening the file so you don't accidentally ruin your original. This technique works no matter what software package you're using — Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator. Saving the original with a name that's different from the names of the files in‐progress and the finished file ensures that you can go back to your starting point if you need to.

With graphics files, you typically have a working file and a final version. The working file is the version that has all the editable pieces still intact. The important thing to know here is that as you work in graphics software, you generate a series of layers with pieces of your graphic on each layer. One image, actually, is made up of multiple layers that you can edit. When you generate the final copy of the graphic you'll use on your site, the resulting file is flattened — in other words, the layers no longer exist in that file. Because the layers don't exist anymore, you can't easily make changes to the file, and some changes become impossible. In most cases, you have to open the working copy and edit the layers.



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