Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Zen and the Art of Inventory Management

Contributing Author: Jadyn Firehawk

The topic of my post is "How to manage your inventory without ever sorting it." I very much like the Taoist saying, "Do nothing, accomplish everything." I never sort or clean out my inventory. As of today, I have 96,173 items in it.

If you think that is bad, hold on a second! A couple of weeks ago, in one of my groups, the owner asked the members this:

"I have a question.... how many inventory items do you all have?"

"I have a guy on the horn who believes his 21k is a lot and I'm trying to make a point."

And some of the answers that were HIGHER than mine were:







"113,692 (been here 8 years)"

"oh geeze way too many, 142,235"

"233,709 dropped 100k in the last 2 weeks lol"

"195,900 *coughs*"

"(blushes, my inventory is well over 200K... even after deleting 15K of old merchandise from the early years... )"

Can you believe it? Over 200 thousand! There are advantages and disadvantages to having an inventory that large. The supposed disadvantage is: Loading time and resource usage. This is according to Torley Linden. Here is his link: Guide to Cleaning Your Inventory for a Happier Second Life. (You might want to bookmark that for reference.)

Yet, with over 90,000 items I have never found this to be an inconvenience. I don't necessarily recommend that you let yours get as large as mine. Builders tend to have large inventories, mainly because of textures. The main advantage, however, is: You never, EVER have to sort it. In other words, no more files and folders... and sub-folders... and more sub-folders...and hours of endless sorting... This is a HUGE advantage!

How do you manage an inventory that large? The key is this: MAKE IT SEARCHABLE. I sometimes call this "The Google Method" of inventory management. How do you make it searchable? Here's how:

  1. Rename items slightly as you get them, and
  2. Use keywords.

Renaming items (or the folder that it comes in) as you get them takes only a second, but pays off big in the long run. A fact of life about the Information Age is: Information is no good unless it's findable. KEYWORDS make your items findable.

Whenever you get, or create, a new item, if it is modifiable, add to its name a word or two (or three) that will help you to find it later. Use a word or two (or three) that you will most likely think of, to search for it again later, such as "red mesh gown." If the item is not modifiable, you won't be able to change its name. In these cases, the best thing to do is to create a New Folder to put the item into, and name the folder with your searchable keywords, in order to find it again later.

When creating and using New Folders, it's handy to use the Inventory > New Window command in your Inventory window to create a second Inventory window, to make it easier to drag-and-drop your items into your New Folder.

If a shop or creator already puts their brand name into the name of every item that they sell, then they have already done the work for you.

All you have to do is remember that you got that particular item at that store.

For example, a lot of my favorite jewelry comes from a store called EarthStones. That's the one with the people who have the gigantic inventories that I used in the examples! That creator always puts the brand name EarthStones in the folder name of every item that is sold there. My work is already done, and the job of searching for items that I bought there is very easy.

There are two main things to know about Searching. First, typing more than one keyword in Search (or the Filter Inventory line) will search for those exact words in that exact order. For example, "red mesh gown" will bring up anything with exactly the words "red mesh gown" and not "red gown mesh."

Second, to search for something with the words "red" AND "gown" anywhere in its name, you can use a "+" sign, as in: red + gown. That will bring up all items with the words "red" and "gown" in them, with any words in between. For example, it will find Kamiri Red Mesh Gown, and also Blaze Red Formal Gown, and Mesh Gown Dress Bellagio Red, and any other items or folders with Red and Gown in the name.

It's also useful to know that there's a Search By function in your Inventory window. You can use it (in the Inventory window menu) to Search By Name, or By Creator, By Description, By UUID, or BY ALL. UUID stands for Universal Unique Identifier, and it's a string of numbers assigned to every individual thing in SL, such as 32209ef3-9dad-fe83-4ae7-67354f9e8327. (That's the UUID for the Notecard that I used to write out the notes for this post.) The UUID is useful mainly to scripters.

A tip for builders: When using textures or any other thing associated with a specific project, make a copy of the item and rename it with the name of the project somewhere in the item name. This will help you find the item very easily in the future. For example, for all the textures that I used in building my Craftsman house, I made copies and renamed them with "Craftsman" in the item name. This creates more items in your inventory, of course, but has the advantage of associating all items to each of your projects and making them easily findable later.

I guess this is the message of the entire post. Your goal in using this approach to inventory management is this: Make every item in your inventory easily findable later. That is the goal of all inventory management approaches, anyway. The difference with my approach is that it's a "search based" approach, rather than a folder-within-folder based approach. And the secret to a search based approach is to use keywords. No sorting required!

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