Is it possible to extract parts of a file name and put the that information into a column? So for example file is called 2014-01-2-R00744.pdf. So can I using a workflow extract the 2014 part of the file name and insert it into another column in the library?
It depends a bit on what your actual requirements are. 2010 workflows do have the capability of extracting substrings, but you have to know the indexes ahead of time. There is no functionality similar to
indexOf where you can find the index of a certain character.
So in your example, if you know that you will always be taking only the first four characters, then yes, you can do that in a 2010 workflow. If, however, the first characters are variable, and you need to take everything up to the first dash, then no, you cannot do that, because you would need some way of finding the index of the first dash.
SP 2013 workflows do (AFAIK) have an
indexOf type functionality, so you should definitely be able to do it in a 2013 workflow.