Academic habits: file management, part 0: assignment files

Self-tutoring about academic habits: the tutor mentions one he has developed for large assignments.

My first degree was in math: I barely used a PC for it. Virtually everything was handwritten, with solutions written in pencil. (The good old days:) A couple of times I admit I had to write a short essay on a word processor, but such assignments were quickly done and were single-file. Moreover, they were printed out and handed in hard-copy. Afterwards, one never thought of the file again.

When I went back for computer science in 2019, the world had changed, and so had the subject I was studying. Once through the second-year pre-reqs, it became obvious the upper-level courses had assignments that were really large projects, often with dozens of supporting files.

With such projects, I soon learned that not only the main file, but even the supporting files, would evolve. One might have many versions of the same supporting file, unsure which was best. Moreover, one had to have back-ups of everything.

At the end, the assignment file contained many files it depended on, but also many other versions of those files that weren’t referenced by the final product, but had been important in developmental phases. I pondered what to do about this, because some professors only seemed to want the finished product and nothing else, yet it would be hard for an interested person to understand how the finished product came together without those “transitional versions” of the files.

My decision was to put an inner folder in the assignment folder. The inner folder, called “remnants” or “development,” contained all those files that had been important, but were no longer referenced by the final product.

No professor ever acknowledged this situation; I guess the tidiness fanatics, while they objected to “extra” files being present, appreciated the fact that they were conveniently stowed out of the way.

I seldom delete anything.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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