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How to handle many attributes…
 
AMMoyer
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Joined:  2008-08-22
 

I’m trying to get my arms around the data portion of Magento and integrate my data.  I’ve got a couple issues.

First, I’m trying to integrate our automotive parts catalog.  Most of our items fit numerous vehicles over a range of years.  Our data is already in a relational DB (Access) and can easily be manipulated and imported to Magento.  However, the main table that relates all of our part numbers to each vehicle will not work as our product table since the part numbers are listed numerous times for each vehicle application and Magento will not allow duplicate SKU entries.  I thought I could utilize the product attributes for part application (make, model, year, etc.) data, but soon realized that this is not possible.  Some parts fit over 1000 vehicles if you broke it down to every combination of make, model and year for each application.  Most of our products do not have true attributes per say, there is no color or size to choose only that if fits your car.

Can someone give me a direction to head in with this?  Will I need to import our application/part table into the Magento database?  And if so what sort of compatibility issues will that cause?

Thanks for your input.

Adam

 
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brendanb
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Hey Adam,

Just trying to wrap my head around this..
So what your saying is that in your current Access DB you have a product table with duplicate “Product Records”. And The reason you have these duplicate product records is to allow you to relate these to each vehicle?

 
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AMMoyer
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Its a relational db in Access.  There is one table in the db that relates the parts to each vehicle combination.  So if a part fits more than one vehicle, which is usually the case, there is multiple records in the table with the same part number.  Example, if the part fits 6 different models of vehicles, then there would be 6 different records that relate each different model to the same part number.  Here is the structure of the table:

tblAppsChassis
ID
ActionID
MakeID
ModelID
Year
YearTo
BaseVehicleID
BaseVehicleToID
SubModelID
TypeID
TypeToID
SteerTypeID
DriveTypeID
EngineTypeID
TransTypeID
BodyTypeID
MfgPN
PositionID
QtyPerLocation
Notes

Most all of our parts are chassis parts that fit a many vehicles each.  Is there a way to reorganize my data to utilize the Magento data structure?  I can’t see it if its possible.  At firstI thought I could use Make, Model, Year, etc as the attributes within the Magento product framework, but can’t since each of our parts would be listed numerous times.

I would ultimately like to be able to search by make, model, year also.  I have accomplished this using MySQL and PHP and a little HTML on a test site, still trying to get something integrated with Magento. 

Thanks for your reply, any thoughts???

 
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AMMoyer
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I’m an engineer, I usually make things harder than they are. 

Anyway, currently we have almost 4000 parts that fit 48 makes, with 1051 models, spanning 55 years (and counting).  We also have about 60 specific part types.  If our catalog is broken down to the simplest combination of vehicles there are about 140,000 total.  Our coverage is so vast that I don’t think I want to follow your suggestion, only because updating the site would become time consuming and cumbersome.  I thought the whole purpose of a database driven site was to simplify the updating process by only updating the database and letting the site load everything from there.

I am obviously not a developer, just someone who has taken on this massive project.  If I’m being narrow minded about this please educate me on why I can use Magento’s built in tables and not have to add to its Db.

Thanks for your help.

Adam

 
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brendanb
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Adam,

I would only create one product record for each part, no duplicates. The intial setup of the catalog is going to be hard work. No matter what type of ecomm engine you choose.

Here are some suggestions

1. “60 specific part types” are going to be your product categories. I have a site im working on which will have approx 100 categories and counting.. We have atm 4000 records and growing..
2. “48 makes” create this as an combo type attribute that is filtereable
3. “1051 models” create this as an combo type attribute that is filtereable
4. “55 years” (and counting) create this as an combo type attribute that is filtereable

So the above attributes if setup correctly can act as a filtered list.

I would slighty vary from fifthave suggestion in this way.
I would not make the make/model part of category, as this extends out the listing. This can be handled by using attributes.

So i would suggest somthing like
-Tie rods
-Swaybar bushing
- Etc, etc

Going forward this approach initially is going to take a while to setup, but lets say a part is used in a 2008 model car, but then is used in a 2009 model car.
All you need to do is add the new “model” to the “model” attribute. If its a part used in a new make of car you just add that new make to the “make” attribute and so on..

You might want to look at some competitors online to also see how they setup their category structure. Im a programmer who knows a little about cars. Im not sure if your targeting the general public or trade. But if for example you were targeting the public, i would suggest some higher level categories to help in navigation

cheers
Brendan

 
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AMMoyer
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Thanks, that is more along the lines of what I was hoping to do.  I have a request into webshopmanager to “test drive” there shopping cart.  I am not thrilled about the monthly fee though.

What do you mean a combo attribute?  I’ve tried to setup a “make” attribute, but am not completely sure what all the options do.  Would I be able to have several makes inside that one attribute?  How does it relate the selected make to the corresponding model and other associated attributes? 

Thanks again for your assistance.

Adam

 
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AMMoyer
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Well I’ve Magento running on my local machine using WAMP so I cannot give you access, unfortunately. 

I’m still confused about the combo attributes.  Are they an attribute set or something different?  Is there a product that uses this type of attribute in the “example” store that I can compare it to? 

Right now I’m planning on importing our products into Magento using Brenden’s idea for the categories we had discussed previously.  Then I may import our applications table into the Magento db and have the custom dropdown search that table and then have the query results pull data from the products table.  Thoughts?

Thanks again.

 
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brendanb
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hey,

now worries, its all pretty insane in the beginning getting your head around the whole thing. I was in the same boat grin

ok firstly a combo attribute is just a type of attribute which allows you to have a list of possible values. It acts like an MS Access a dropdown listbox. Oh the memories of developing in access!

Now this combo box can be set up to allow only one or multiple selections.

So for example:
lets take a spark plug. As you say one part can be used in many cars.
You could setup a product “Spark Plug” with an SKU XYZ123.
Now you create an attribute called “make”.
You set this up as a combo type attribute that allows multiple selections.
You then populate that attribute with all the makes that are going to be used. Now this list can be added to later, if a new make of car is produced.
Then you can then go into the product and assign multiple makes of cars to the spark plug. This has the effect of the product now being applicable in a filtered list to many different makes.

Right:
Just some pointers before doing mass imports of products.

1. Create all your attributes first. Dont worry if you miss something, you can mass change products to have attributes set in magento.
2. You might want to create “attribute sets”. These acts as ways to group together sets of attributes for a product. This really depends on how many attributes your planning on having. For example some attributes might be common to all parts. “make,model,year” Whilst other attributes might only be applicable to only a specific category of products. Lets say colour. So colour is applicable to a bumper but not to the spark plug, hence its not really applicable so why have it as part of your spark plug attributes

3. Assign the attributes your created to attribute sets. (now this is only applicable if you decided on creating attribute sets.
4. Create some test products in magento using these custom attributes.
5. Export the product file. This will give you and idea of how to structure your product import file

Honestly, this is going to take you a few goes to get a feel for how you want to structure your data. Your going to load data in, look at the web it displays, and want to make changes. So work with some small datasets. dont load up all your data, only to find its doesnt quite make sense. The reason i say this is it takes time to load in the data, and more time to remove it

cheers
brendan

 
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chanchel
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I appreciate this thread, it has given me some ideas.  However, I have one problem.  If I have the attributes Make, Model and Year, but I have a part (XYZ) that fits a 98-03 Chevy Truck, and a 00-05 Ford F150 (but not the 98 or 99 Ford).  So in my attributes I would be selecting Years 98-05.  If a customer is looking for this part for his 1999 Ford 150 and they select the attribute 1999, Ford 150, following your suggestions above, wouldn’t part XYZ show up through this filtering process, which really doesn’t fit his truck?

 
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chanchel
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Just bumping, to see if anyone has any suggestions.

 
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brendanb
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hey chancel,

in your above scenario yes, it would appear because as you say

so in my attributes I would be selecting Years 98-05

.

But if you use filtered attributes. Lets say you have the attribute for year setup and with each year as one entry. The user could only select the relevant year thus if they selected 99 they would not see the part appearing in the year 99

hope this make sense. Have you tried setting this up in a test environment

brendan

 
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spliceguys
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AMMoyer, I am wondering if you found a good solution for this? I also have an online parts business and have been wrestling with how to properly categorize parts.. Luckily for me, I mostly only have one Make which is Mazda. I do have the problem though where a part might fit a 1984-85 RX-7, but it also fits a 1994-97 Miata, but not the 1994 RX-7..

I just got Magento yesterday and am starting to use it today. Just wondering if you’ve had any discoveries which might help..

Thanks,

Brian

 
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FidelGonzales
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I realize this thread is three years old, but I am also looking for a solid solution for automotive and powersports applications and have tracked this thread since finding it several years ago.

I\’ve been using one pillar of category navigation via vehicle type/make/model and am considering adding year beneath model. But I am also looking to add attributes for the purposes of identifying part fitment in the other category pillars for part brand manufacturer (K&N;/BFGoodrich) and part category (brakes/wheels/engine).

What solutions have you guys come up with?

Thanks.

 
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brendanb
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So what I have found over time is its more flexible to assign attributes to a product than create new categories. Since this thread had started things have moved on a bit in magento. You can now get extensions that cater for multi-select. I use the manadev extension which works quite well. I now create landing pages based on attributes. I still have a core set of categories, but its easier to assign attributes (multiple attributes) to products and let the customer filter

 
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