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Truely Configureable Product
 
ca700290
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I am porting my clients site to use Magento. The software is awesome but I am finding limitations/strictions with the inventory and products variations.

Is there anyway or anything I can do with magento for the following situation:

My customer has a large roll sheet of material which he has defined a number of widths and lengths as standard product.  When the order comes in he cuts to the width and length and sells that unit.
Now each roll is in 10 colours.  (so say there are 10 widths and 10 lengths).  I now have to create 1000 products to make my configureable product.  Is this overkill?

Maybe I am missing something and I could give a few more examples of other types of products.  I guess that this is a feature request but a variation on the product wouldn’t effect inventory.

Anyway I would love ot hear peoples comments and views on this.  Like I said I could be missing something but currently this is really giving me a head strain smile

 
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Ross
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I think a few people share your concerns (me included).  The Magento team seem keen to improve the configurable product, but I get the feeling that they will not change the basic model that is used - which requires a separate ‘simple product’ for each product variation.

If the creation of the ‘simple’ products was automated, perhaps it wouldn’t be so much of an issue.

Maybe it would be possible to make orders unique without having separate entries in the product database? Do you have any ideas for how it could work differently, while still being able to manage orders consistently with other products?  Also remember, while your example doesn’t require inventory management, other scenarios do.

 
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MunchyMonster
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I’ve got the same problem.  We make care packages.  There are currently 15 items that our customers can choose from to build a care package.  Our care packages come in 3 different sizes.  A small care package can have two choices from the 15 available Items (a measly 225 simple items covers that).  A medium package can have four choices from the 15 available items (a so a mere 50,625 simple items should take care of that.  I’ll dedicate a weekend or three to that project).  Ah yes our large care package allows the user to select 9 choices from the 15 available items (Well 38,443,359,375 simple items to take care of all the possible combinations a user might want to choose).  I’m thinking I don’t have that kind of time and even if each simple product only required 1 byte to store I’d need need 35Gigs just for the simple products related to my large care packages.

There has got to be a better solution.

If I could have “options” for each product and each option could effect the weight and/or the price I’d be able to make my care packages work.  I’m pretty sure this would be sufficient for most users with configurable products.

Now I’d love to be able to track each individual option in inventory, but beggars can’t be choosers.

There has been a lot of talk about custom payment gateways and custom shipping modules.  Can anyone point us to how one might create a new product type?  There could be the three that Magento offers natively (simple, configurable, and grouped) and then the custom types that other would write like:
Bundled - a product type that bundles a group of simple products together and allows a new price and sku but still tracks the simple items in inventory.
Simplified Configurable - a product type that uses the simple add to price add to weight scheme described above.

I’m sure there are others.  This is open source, right.  If someone can point me in the right direction I’ll happily start banging my head against the wall.

 
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Ron Seigel - 21 April 2008 05:51 PM

MunchyMonster - 21 April 2008 05:34 PM
A small care package can have two choices from the 15 available Items (a measly 225 simple items covers that).

Hold up. You’re not understanding how this works.

You would only need 15 simple products...period. You only have 15 inventory items to choose from.

To be honest I haven’t investigated how you choose 2, 3 or 4 options for a single configurable product the way you want to do it but it can’t be what you’re expecting here. Maybe someone else can chime in here on that issue.

I’d start by viewing the screencast again and checking out the knowledge base article.

http://www.magentocommerce.com/knowledge-base/entry/tutorial-creating-a-configurable-product

http://www.magentocommerce.com/media/screencasts/configurable-products/view

Good luck....

Actually, munchymonster is completely correct. Each additional option doubles your number of simple products, assuming that option is a boolean.

If its multiple select, the number of possbilities is tripled.

 
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MunchyMonster
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I would love to be wrong.  What I really want is exactly what you suggest Ron.  The way things are set up right now I can’t even track the “simple” products that make up my “configurable” product.  I get that configurable products may not be the “right” way to do what I want but grouped products aren’t what I need either.  I’m hopeful that the bundled products are what I’m looking for, but I haven’t heard any news about how that is going to work either.

If bundled products aren’t what I’m looking for (and it sounds like a lot of others are looking for it too), then I’m looking for help to figure out how to add a new product type.  The closest concept to what I want is something I heard called Built To Order.  I want to offer some simple products that the Customer is allowed to pick and choose from to build what they want.  Sounds like custom computer builders and those types would need this too.

Like I said I’d love to be wrong.  But if I’m wrong please educate me.

MunchyMonster

 
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Hi MunchyMonster, I am not 100% sure if I fully understand how the Configurable product work with your options, while I am not certain if you need only 15 simple products, I think Ron’s comment is closer to my understanding.

I set up some Configurable product items yesterday, after the third, I was finally understand how it works and begun to appreciate the way Magento does it with Configurable product. My need is simpler as I only need Colors and Memory Capacity.

http://74.52.59.43/index.php/memory-card/kingston-s-standard-compactflash.html
On this page, I have the SDHC cards setup Configurable product item, one is 4GB and one is 8GB. I have the base price set to $20.20 which is for 4GB, in the “Associated Products” section, I added $20 for the 8GB, so in the front end, when the 8GB is selected, the price changes to $40.20.  With this setup, I need two Simple Products and one configurable product; now, if I need to extend the configurable option, all I need is to create extra attributes with label options, say, if I were to extend the options with the choices you have, I will create (Global) attributes for:
1) Parent attribute for Sizes with label option: Small, Medium, Large
2) (Child) Small attribute with label option: list of 15 available options
3) (Child) Medium attribute with label option: list of 15 available options
4) (Child) Large attribute with label option: list of 25 available options

To make it easier for ‘add product’ task so that my client wont miss it, I then create an ‘Attribute Set’ and name it ‘configurable_product’, then under the ‘GROUPS’, I add a new folder, call it ‘configurable_options’, and drag all the configurable attributes I just created in there.

I can add as many configurable options in Attributes as I see fit, and unless I want to extend the Memory Capacity option for 2GB and 1GB, I will always have two Simple products and One Configurable product for the Kingston’s SDHC Flash Card.

When you create a Configurable Product, you will be asked to select the Configurable Attributes, in your case, you probably will select ‘Sizes’, ‘Small’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Large’.

As I am writing this message, I am beginning to think with each item, you actually need 3 simple prouducts for Small, Medium, Large and one Confirgurable Products, so that will be 15 x 4 = 60 items altogether

How it works is something like this example:
http://demo.magentocommerce.com/apparel/shirts/zolof-the-rock-and-roll-destroyer-lol-cat-t-shirt-1.html

When the size is selected, it presents your customer second option to choose whatever available choices. I imagine it gets tricky and may not even be possible with current Configurable setup if you want user to have multi-select option under each child attribute.

The screen cast of the Configurable Option make simple is great, however, I think that something may not be obvious, at least in my case. Before I see that screen cast, I actually had never seen the “Quick simple product creation” section and the button for “Copy from Configurable” under the “Associated Products” when I created my first Configurable Product.
In order for them to show up, when you add a new configurable product, and enter all needed information, you need to click ‘Save and Continue Edit’ before you go ahead with the “Associated Products”.

Adding two Simple products is easier, all you need is un-select the ‘Autogenerate’ under Name and SKU, and add a word (Small for instance) in the existing Name and SKU, then proceed with the rest of the options, then select ‘Quick Create’., this whole process takes less than a minute so it isn’t too bad. I’d also realized I if I want the Simple Product’s Visibility sets to ‘Nowhere, I don’t need to add images and other information in the Simple Product’s items, the ‘Quick Create’ will duplicate the required fields such as Short description and Description.

I hope this help and Ron or anybody please jump in to correct me if I get anything wrong with how it works.

 
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MunchyMonster
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@chinesedream
Thanks for the response.  The problem (I think) is a disconnect between what I want to do and what Configurable Products are meant to do.  If you have a small number of configurable options and each of those options has a small number of choices it works great.  Your example of a USB drive is a good one.  You have one configurable option (drive size) and two choices for that option (40 or 80).  So you have 2 = 2 simple items. 

You are correct that if I simply had 2 configurable options (size, and contents), and I just had 3 choices for size and 15 choices for contents I would have a much more managable 3 x 15 = 45 simple items that I would need to populate my store with.  But what I actually have is three sizes, two choices from a list of 15 possiblities for the small, 4 choices out of 15 posibilities for the med, and 9 choices out of 15 possibilites for the large.  That turns into the unmanigable (15 x 15) + (15 x 15 x 15 x 15) + (15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15) = more than 35 Billion simple items.

Please don’t give up on me as beligerent.  I agree that Configurable Products are not the right fit.  But I’m not the only one.  What about the guy running a custom computer shop.  To build a custom computer has 6 different monitors, 12 flavors of ram, 10 different hard drives, 8 cd drives, 5 dvd drives, 4 keyboards, 3 mice, 4 speakers, etc.  With just what I’ve listed (and I’m sure a real computer guys has many more bits and pieces to keep track of to build a real system power supply, case, etc.) He would need to have 6 x 12 x 10 x 8 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 4 = 1,382,400 simple products backing his Build a Custom Computer configurable product.  He also can’t track the inventory that he actually has because none of the simple products maps directly to a piece of hardware that he uses to build the end system.

I know configurable products aren’t the right tool for the job.  I want to know if building the right tool for the job is already in process, or do I need to do it myself.  And if I need to do it myself is there anyplace I can go to see how it might work.  Heck I would be happy to duplicate one of the existing product types to start with and then tweaking it until it does what I need.

On the other hand if someone can show me how to set up configurable items that flow through to some simple items used to build them (like the hardware parts in my example above) and can do so with using more than a million simple products, I am all ears.  This is one time where I would love to be wrong.

I’m going to look into parent child relationships between attributes and see if I can use that to my advantage.  Thanks for the idea.

-MunchyMonster

 
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MunchyMonster - 22 April 2008 07:52 AM

@chinesedream
But what I actually have is three sizes, two choices from a list of 15 possiblities for the small, 4 choices out of 15 posibilities for the med, and 9 choices out of 15 possibilites for the large.  That turns into the unmanigable (15 x 15) + (15 x 15 x 15 x 15) + (15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15 x 15) = more than 35 Billion simple items.

-MunchyMonster

Are those two choices and a list of 15 possible options have to be in the inventory system? In this case, I didn’t actually think about the whole picture thoroughly.

Hmmm, I wonder if it’s possible or would it be easier to extend the attribute’s labels assigning to SKUs with the current Magento Configurable and Attributes codes? if this is do-able, are the 2 choices and a list of 15 possible options from Small, Medium and Large interchangeable? If yes, I think extra 2 x 15 = 30 items needed for Simple Product with 30 SKUs assign to the Attribute Labels can handle it (?!). So this will make it to (45 + 30 = ) 75 items instead of 35 Billion simple items you thought it would.

Am I on the right track? Either way, I still not convinced that you will need 35 Billion simple items or the 1,382,400 simple products for the customized computer store smile That is insane and I am done with web design career!!!

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@chinesedream
You are getting my hopes up.  smile I’m at my day job so I can’t give you screen shots but let me try to explain in miniature what it is I need and see if you can explain (as if to a very slow child) how you would accomplish what you are suggesting based on my description. 

For simplicity sake we will take just one size box (the medium).  In this box I have four “spots” for products to be placed.  Any spot can have one of (again for simplicities sake) 3 items.  It can have a rubber duck, a yo-yo, or a toy car.  I’m imagining a product called Medium Box of Cool Stuff.  This has four identical drop downs.  Each drop down contains the three items above.  The customer must choose one of each item to put into the box.  Each item effects the price and weight of the box.  It doesn’t matter which item the Customer picks for each “spot” so long as they pick an item for each “spot” before they try to add it to thier cart.

For bonus points I’d love to be able to track the MediumBox as an inventory item that is decremented each time a Medium Box of Cool Stuff is purchased and I’d like to track the RubberDuck, YoYo, and ToyCar as inventory items that are decremented when they are chosen as part of a Medium Box of Cool Stuff(MBoCS) that is purchased.  So if the customer chooses a MBoCS with a rubber ducky, rubber ducky, rubber ducky, and yo-yo.  My inventory subtracts 1 MediumBox, 3RubberDuck, and 1YoYo.  If the Customer chooses MBoCS with a yo-yo, yo-yo, toy car, and toy car, then my inventory subtracts 1 MediumBox, 2YoYo, and 2ToyCar.

But it is essential that the Medium Box of Cool Stuff be treated as a single item from the customer’s perspective.  He needs to be able to order 5 of them and have us send them to various people around the country.

In my, hopefully erroneous, view of how things work I’m thinking that I would need 3x3x3x3 or 27 simple items wired to a Configurable item and I can’t get the bonus points.  Please tell me you have a clever trick that makes this so much easier to do and can land me the bonus points.

Thanks,
MunchyMonster

 
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Hi MunchyMonster, no sure how far I can go, will think about it further later today, as now I am stuck with something else.

 
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@Ron Seigle

Over here http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards/viewthread/6486/ Yoav (from the Magento Team) has popped in and said that “Bundles” are what most of us are looking for.  If you check out the road map, you’ll see bundles sitting right at the top of the pile (I only pray that the pile is sorted by priority not just by luck of the draw).  As yet another bit of rumor mongering I noticed that the latest Alpha release has been posted to SVN.  Now I’m not suggesting that any of us run alpha code, but perhaps a sneak peek at bundles might be in there.  I’ve asked Yoav for a reply in the other thread.  If anyone has gotten a look at bundles can they post screen shots and info about them for those of us who are less than full time at this.

Keep your fingers crossed,
MunchyMonster

 
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@Ron,
There is more than one thread that is dealing with this question, and I want to assure you that we are doing our best to give our attention to all of them
These are just a couple of them:
http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards/viewthread/6427/
http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards/viewthread/6486/
Actually Yoav answered to MunchyMonster’s same question that is posted in this thread in: http://www.magentocommerce.com/boards/viewthread/6486/

 
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