How do I sort all these electronic design files?
June 18, 2017 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I have been designing for 15 years now, using Illustrator and PowerPoint, and I have a lot of reusable stuff but I don't always remember what it was, or where I saved it, or even that it exists. I need a process (rather than a software solution) to collect these useful things and create an easily browsable and accessible collection.

With 6000+ Illustrator files and 2000+ PowerPoints, and being on the spectrum, I don't know where to start. The sorts of things I want to reuse from PowerPoint includes various complicated animations and icons and symbols I've designed. I have icons and symbols in Illustrator too, but also variations of theoretical models and complicated art.

I can find all my files because they are on one hard drive by searching for the file type, and copying them into one directory, but then what do I do? Open each file and ... create a png? How will I name it? What if there are 15 useful things on one page or in one PowerPoint? Is there a taxonomy of design?

I'm pretty good at writing Access databases, and I have worked out methods around keyword and categories (not for design, for an academic field) but I don't want to reinvent wheels. Yes, I know about Adobe Bridge, but it never stuck, and the problem remains that there are smaller things (icons, for example) within larger things (Illustrator diagrams, PowerPoints).

Any ideas?
posted by b33j to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I deal with this by creating folders full of shortcuts to my re-usable resources. Each such folder then functions like a tag that I can apply to a resource by creating a shortcut to that resource inside that folder.

I use the Thunar file manager in a Debian Xfce desktop environment, and it does a pretty good job of thumbnailing stuff. I'm not sure what Windows Explorer would need added to make it similarly competent, but I'd be surprised to find that third party thumbnailing add-ons were impossible to track down.

I've found no real need to get all picky and systematic about nailing down a definitive hierarchical taxonomy because simply adding tags as I encounter uses for them has worked well enough.
posted by flabdablet at 3:23 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

flabdablet's approach sounds great.

I just wanted to add that you could go through the collection in very small batches whenever you have a spare half hour and feel like doing something that's not too demanding. You could pick a random month of files (maybe something from two years ago?) and just glance through them. If anything looks appropriate for your new folder-tagging system, you can add it; and if anything inspires you or gives you an idea for something else you're working on, you can make a note of it.

The thing is, if you want to go back through things, you absolutely do not have to do all of them at once. I have a massive photo library, and I just go through and tag a few dozen when I have a few minutes of downtime between other tasks.
posted by kristi at 10:17 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]

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