Invalid Characters In File Names

Your CatDV system may have NSA custom middleware installed or have the Worker Node performing outside scripts via command line as part of a Worker Action. While CatDV is usually fine with most any character you want to put into a field name or field value, some outside processes and applications don't accept certain characters.

Additionally if files are moved between different storage platforms, problems can emerge. Even if you assume that you will always use a specific OS, it is a best practice to future proof your files so that as they move and are stored on varying systems they will not create issues.

Example: An editorial house that is “Mac-only” might have Mac edit systems (OS X OS, HFS+ filesystem) attached to Facilis Terrablock for their main storage, (Windows OS, Facilis filesystem) an Isilon Tier-2 (Linux OS & filesystem) and then finally an SGL archiving system (Windows Server OS, LTFS filesystem.) Throw in a delivery to a web video distributor (Linux OS & filesystem) and an outside vendor who uses Windows Workstations and storage for their editorial process and you can see the potential for problems in a “Mac-only” workflow.


The short answer for how to name a file is:

Use standard alpha numeric characters (A-Z, 0-9), underscores and dashes.

If you want to dig deeper, read on.

The following chart is adapted from the Apple article linked below as it takes into account all three of the major OS’s. We have included other useful resources and articles along with the link to the source of this list.

Avoid

Example

Reasons

File separators

: (colon)

/ (forward-slash)

\ (backward-slash)

Avoid using colons and slashes in the names of files and folders because some OS and drive formats use these characters as directory separators. Consider substituting an underline (_) or dash (-) where would normally use a slash or colon in a filename.

Non-alphabetical and non-numerical symbols

¢™$®

Non alphanumeric characters may not be supported by all file systems or operating systems, or may be difficult to work with when exported to certain file formats such as EDL, OMF, or XML.

Punctuation marks, parentheses, quotation marks, brackets and operators

. , [ ] { } ( ) ! ; " ' * ? < > |

These characters are often reserved for special functions in scripting and programming languages.

White space characters such as spaces, tabs, new lines and embedded returns.

Although OS X and Mac OS formatted disks support spaces in filenames, certain processing scripts and applications may not recognize these characters, or may treat your files differently than expected. Consider substituting an underline (_) or dash (-) where you would normally use spaces. 


Trailing Spaces - Note also that trailing spaces are often an issue and are very hard to see in a path or filename. An example of a trailing space is:

/folder-name /file.mov

In a dark interface or a small font, it can be hard to identify these. We find that searching for " /" on a mac or " \" on a PC, (That's a space followed by a forward or back slash) can help you identify and clean these up.


The main offenders we see most often are the apostrophe and quotes ( ' and " ). These are the most commonly used bad characters in regular English ( casey's-cut.mov for instance) so be on the look out for them especially.


Apple Article:OS X: Cross-platform filename best practices and conventions

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT5923



Microsoft Article: Naming Files, Paths, and Namespaces

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa365247(v=vs.85).aspx


Dropbox.com: “Why aren't certain files on one computer syncing to another?“

https://www.dropbox.com/help/145

If you'd like to add a problematic name or character from your own life check out our File Name Hall Of Shame submission form.

File Name Hall Of Shame



This information is provided as a courtesy and implies no warranty or guarantee. Use at your own risk and discretion. NSA assumes no responsibility for data loss or other issues resulting from the use or misuse of this information.