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Product Custom Attributes
We strive, all the time, to standardise our off the shelf software products. Here's to another step further on the journey
08
Aug 2018
eCommerce: Product Custom Attributes
John Ince
Striving for Generalisation over Specialisation
At Project Peach we're always looking for ways to reduce or code base and functionality by generalising / lifting the code if you like to make function available across projects and within projects. For instance, we have a general eCommerce WebApp that all our retail clients use which we tailor graphically to their company branding. It's the exact same code base, forms and function. However for a few of our clients we've specialised our eCommerce slightly to their specific needs. This has the effect of making a new 'TYPE' of eCommerce WebApp, a different build that shares 99% of the common code but is it's own running instance and not part of our standard eCommerce WebApps. It's always our aim to get these specialisations back into the general fold and have a single form of retail WebApp. Remember there is NO code duplication here simply another web application with a special build. So, the idea is to home in on the specifics and raise them generically for use in the standard eCommerce WebApp. If that is a bit wishy washy for you then here's a concrete example of product custom attributes.
The Hawthorn Gallery. What's Different?
The Hawthorn Gallery is it's own unique eCommerce WebApp. It's own type if you like. We'd like ALL our eCommerce applications to be our standard eCommerce WebApp type. We've a set of long running agile stories in our backlog of work where we want to factor out what makes this WebApp unique or specialised. The Hawthorn Gallery shares 99% commonality, so maybe if we hunted out the specialised code we could generalise it and make it of use in our other standard retail WebApps. Since our specific WebApp solution powers an online Art Gallery then we've some Art Characteristics that are only typical to selling ART. This is one of the reasons that we've ended up with a specialised eCommerce solution for Art Galleries. Remember this is fine if we want to have an Art Gallery WebApp derived from our standard eCommerce, all other instances are simply then the Art Gallery WebApp type. In order to support the Art we've a none standard implementation of Art characteristics, like edition size, height, width, medium and so on. These specialised attributes are no use to anything outside the Art world. BUT what if we made the attribute types themselves user defined? Or put another way what if our clients defined the standard attributes that make up their products?
Attributes: Goodbye Specific, Hello Custom
Recently we've created custom attributes that our eCommerce WebApp users define. This means that consumers of our generic eCommerce WebApps can extend product information into their problem domain. For example an online wine retailer might have alcohol, sweetness, body, texture. These are the 'key' attributes of a product BUT defined in a generic way. It helps us to have one type of WebApp for ALL retail types. So products are specialised by customers using their product specific parameters. This helps us to make it clear visually and means into the future we can better 'search' based on these values.
eCommerce: Product Custom Attributes
Custom Attributes for The Hawthorn Gallery. These user defined characteristics are clearly shown bold at the bottom right of the product page. Into the future these will form a generic enhancement to our search. It replaces our old specialisation of a WebApp and pushes towards a generalised retail WebApp.
How to Create Custom Attributes
eCommerce: Product Custom Attributes
To associate custom attributes with a product simply select an attribute from the list of previous attributes or create an entirely new one using the create button. Remember not all products will have the same attributes hence the need to select per product. Attributes associated with ALL products can be defaulted.
A New Custom Attribute
eCommerce: Product Custom Attributes
New custom attributes can be created at any time. There are currently two types of attribute, free text and selectable item, or rather just type it OR type it for new and selection from a list of previous entries for an existing value. There's also a default me check box that auto selects in this attribute to ALL newly created products.
Extending Base Product Information with Custom Attributes
eCommerce: Product Custom Attributes
Here's the product setup popup. It shows the chosen additional product information via custom attributes. Into the future this will help us categorise data better and improve our search algorithms. It's also removed the need for specialised WebApp types to support different retail products.
Summarising
We're constantly locked in a battle to standardise everything we do. We've a little way to go before we can push all of our specific typed eCommerce WebApps into our generalised retail WebApp, but we are heading in the right direction. We've more stories in our backlog following the path of extending retail rather than specialising retail. Generalisation and parameterisation wins the day every time. Watch this space.
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Doing it differently since 2012. We're simply 10 years ahead. Our software is designed, coded, maintained, supported & hosted in the United Kingdom.
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