Designer Don Bartz answered our call for tips on managing CAD files. He shares with us his company's method of file organization.
"My company has been in existence for 165 years. When the company decided to go to CAD — even before that — each piece of equipment we built was categorized using a two-digit code. This code ranges from "00" to "99." When we started using CAD, a file called Drawings was created on the server. In that file there are files for "00," "01," etc. Under each of these are files for "12 size," "22 size," and "62 size," where we store the drawing files. When a file becomes very large we will break down the individual sizes into numbers; for example, under the 22 size there might be files called "000–1000," "1000–2000," etc. It sounds simple, but it works: It doesn't take long to find any drawing that you may be looking for."
Notes from Cadalyst Tip Patrol: This tip is very simple in nature, but it is of the utmost importance. I can't imagine having to deal with drawing numbers that span 165 years! What a great testament to the foresight of the individuals that set up the standard.
While you are working on a project, tracking which files are which is simple. However, throw in some more coworkers or add a few years, and soon you won't have any idea of what files are for what project. Make a plan — any plan. Instate a standard file naming procedure; never rely on labels like "Old" or "New." Keep it simple but developed enough to fit your current needs, but keep in mind that the future is always changing. It is a good idea to develop a system rather than a file-naming standard. Don's example is a good system, because it can apply to any condition so that any employee can find specific files.