Wednesday, December 03, 2008

File Names

Ever notice how you can't use a question mark in a filename under NTFS¹, but ¿ is perfectly legal?

Does the upside down question mark see a lot of use on its own?

Other legal filename characters on my system:
Smiley: ☺
House: ⌂
Integral: ∫
Sun: ☼
Gender signs: ♀♂
Suits: ♠♣♥♦
Musical notes: ♪♫
Greyscale Shades: ░▒▓
Triangles: ▲▼
Arabic Place of Sajdah: ۩

Sure, the question mark and colon are reserved because they are associated with system commands.

This wasn't a very thorough list of exclusions though. Unicode 266A, the eighth note (♪), results in abnormal behavior, but it's still allowed.²

There are some names where question marks and colons still thrive: books, film and music. As our filesystems grow increasingly cluttered with media files, you'd think someone would want to address this issue, if only for all those hapless fans of "Who's Harry Crumb_"

Maybe the workarounds haven't occurred to anyone. You'd think that a system font could reserve a little unicode space somewhere for system friendly versions of colons and question marks. That's a pretty jury-rigged solution, surely if anyone actually bothered to think about this, far better solutions could be found in under an hour.

¹ Maybe Mac/Linux handle this better. If my Ubuntu machine wasn't currently a giant paperweight, I might know.

² Make a file with the eighth note character in the middle of the title. Navigate to that directory via command line, and type "dir" to see this in action. The filename will spill over the date at the beginning of the line.