Johnny•DecimalBlog

The first J.D system

15th February 2021 | #new-system

This post will describe the production of a new J.D system – in fact, the first ever J.D system.

Ten or so years ago a few friends and I produced a contemporary dance production – Graeme Murphy’s Suite Synergy. I’d quit my job working IT for a major bank, we had a really cool office in Fitzroy which we rented from a startup Tequila company, and my brain was full of ideas. (Tequila helps.)

A photograph of the street where our office used to be.

One of the things I’ve always hated about Windows is the ugly way that people print the path to a document. You’ve seen it: c:\mydocu~1\suite-synergy\files\ticket-prices\melbourne.doc. It’s monstrous, and I was having none of it.

Dropbox had just come along. Having a shared folder structure on a bunch of different Macs connected by nothing but a wifi network was unbelievable, but of course now you have to figure out where everyone has saved all of the stuff. With a small team, all ridiculously busy, we couldn’t afford to be disorganised.

I’ve always had an organised mind. I used to code tiny database software on my beloved ZX Spectrum+ so I could track the contents of my room. I was ten years old.

The idea itself – the structure, with the numbers – was just there in my brain. I don’t remember ever sitting and giving it any deep thought.

Many of the advantages only became apparent later: reading someone a number to tell them where a thing is, for example. Much easier just to tell someone “forty-one oh three” over the phone than trying to walk them through a file structure. (Those examples aren’t theoretical – I use them, all the time.)


The Suite Synergy system

I’ll give you the whole thing first, and go in to some detail after. Note that this doesn’t show all of the IDs in the system – that’d be massive. I’ve included some as examples, or where they show an interesting aspect of the system.

(By the way, I’m still playing with the formatting of this J.D box. I’ve added highlighting to the IDs – what do you think?)

J•D
00-09 Management & Infrastructure
01 Project Management
02 Infrastructure
03 Contracts & engagement
04 Finance
04.11 Invoices (external, for services purchased)
05 Travel
06 IT, Online & Telecoms
06.01 Office internet connection
07 Materials & assets
07.01 Business cards
08 Ticketing
09 Performance related
 
10-19 Meetings, People & Updates
11 Team meetings
12 Status updates
12.01 Weekly status updates
16 People stuff (internal)
17 people stuff (external)
 
20-29 Sponsorship & Funding
21 Sponsorship (seeking)
22 Client management (existing sponsors)
23 New pack for 2011 tour (Asia etc.)
 
30-39 Marketing & PR
30 Campaign management, framework & financials
31 Materials, assets, photos, words, printed items, etc
31.12 Logos
32 Branding
33 Marketing & advertising (managed by coruscade)
34 Marketing & advertising (managed externally)
35 Public Relations & Publicity
36 State tourism
// Australian state name abbreviations
36.11 VIC
36.12 NSW
36.13 WA
37 Online & direct database communications
 
40-49 Venue
41 VIC - Arts Centre
41.11 Ticket gateway
41.12 Performance times
41.13 Contracts & appendices
41.14 Ticket prices
41.15 Additional ticketing channels
41.16 Ticket allocations
42 NSW - Star City
42.11 Ticket gateway
42.12 Performance times
42.13 Contracts & appendices
42.14 Ticket prices
42.15 Additional ticketing channels
42.16 Ticket allocations
42a NSW - Newcastle
// Egregious rule-breaking here! Newcastle came along as a late addition.
43 WA - Burswood
// ...and obviously every other folder looks the same as those above
44 VIC - Palais Theatre
45 QLD - Gold Coast
46 NT - Darwin
47 SA - Festival Theatre
48 National
 
50-59 Ticketing (non-venue)
51 Ticketek
52 Ticketmaster
53 Showbiz
54 Pinpoint
 
60-69 Production related
61 Logistics & Transport
62 Accommodation
63 Requirements
 
70-79 Documentation, research, media
71 Market Intelligence
71.01 Suite Synergy audience demographic
71.02 Dance industry attendance research
72 Media file (all newspapers, newsletters, publications etc)
73 Ticket price research
79 Other collected works
 
80-89 Events
81 Publicity events
81.01 MDC launch event
82 Sales events
83 Performances

Looking back on that ten years later, I’m actually amazed at how good the first system was.

Most interesting is my use of consistent numbers to refer to the same physical site, and the re-use of numbers within folders to create consistency once more.

J•D
30-39 Marketing & PR
36 State tourism
36.11 VIC // 1 = VIC
36.12 NSW // 2 = NSW
36.13 WA // 3 = WA
 
40-49 Venue
41 VIC - Arts Centre // 1 = VIC
42 NSW - Star City // 2 = NSW
43 WA - Burswood // 3 = WA

All we’re doing here is standardising numbers, but if you have data that repeats like this, it’s worth doing. Similarly, we repeat IDs within a category where we can:

J•D
40-49 Venue
41 VIC - Arts Centre
41.11 Ticket gateway
41.12 Performance times
41.13 Contracts & appendices
41.14 Ticket prices
41.15 Additional ticketing channels
41.16 Ticket allocations
42 NSW - Star City
42.11 Ticket gateway
42.12 Performance times
42.13 Contracts & appendices
42.14 Ticket prices
42.15 Additional ticketing channels
42.16 Ticket allocations

There’s a whole blog post to be written on this technique, it can be really powerful.


Number the things that you stick on the wall

So, now we have an alternative to the hideous Windows file path.

  1. Don’t use Windows. ;-)
  2. Rather than a long file path, just put 41.14 in the footer. Now everyone knows where the file is when they need to update it1.

1. I think we changed the ticket price a hundred times. It's a really hard decision.

Funnily enough, a decade later and I could still have told you that 41 was the category for the Melbourne shows. Your brain remembers this stuff more than you think.

j.