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Product classification systems and finding data in Elestore

Finding data in an information system can be achieved by using two entirely different techniques:

  • By using classification systems - the structured way.
  • By searching for keywords or values - the unstructured way.

Both is, of course, supported by Elestore and EleAIS and Elecat, its data distribution tools. These products have some specialties, which are explained here::

Grouping and classification systems

Ordering product data into one or several classification systems has only the one disadvantage that it simply must be done but it has many advantages over pure searching techniques. This is also why all ERP and comparable systems offer and often even require the use of a classification system.

So does Elestore, which supports several different classification systems. In Elestore your can use both industry standards like USNPC or eClass as well as your own grouping and classification systems.

Elestore's classification system specialties

First al all, all grouping system entries are fully multi-lingual in Elestore. And as opposed to most other content management systems Elestore offers several specialties:

  • Several different grouping systems can be used in parallel but independent from one another.
  • An article can be linked to more than one entry (branch) in each grouping system. This supports the many cases where one item applies to several grouping level definitions.
  • Navigating in a grouping system is done in a special form presenting classification systems either as a tree or in a special multi-area window, which allows for extremely quick navigation.

Advantages of classification (grouping) systems over searching

The great advantages of classification systems over searching are obvious:

  • Most users are very much accustomed to hierarchical structures, which are used everywhere in daily life. In Yellow Pages you first select the geographical area, then the industry or trade to then find several addresses. This is a three level classification system. The same is true for large product databases and for any Internet link list (look at the Google or Yahoo directories).
  • When selecting products the user sees all items at one glance, which somehow belong together, i.e. which have common attributes. In pure searching this can rarely be achieved and requires that all relevant items contain the same keywords and that this keyword is also used for searching. Normally this will not be the case so that the user only finds a small part of the required group of products.
  • Especially for finding technical items it is far more convenient for the user to quickly navigate through a well organized hierarchy of product classifications without any need to first think about possible keywords, which have to be contained in the desired search results.
  • For large databases a classification system is the only way to ensure that the result of a selection really covers all contained items - instead of only those containing the used keyword(s). Here "contained" normally applies to one branch of the classification system regardless of its level or to the entire system, of course.

Here are some screenshots:

Screenshot

This is the grouping navigation form (classification system) in Elecat, which is used for distributing data from Elestore.

This form has three views:

  • The navigation view (browse) shown here.
  • The tree view as shown below.
  • The search (in classification) view below
Screenshot

This is the tree view in the grouping navigation of Elecat, which is used for distributing Elestore data.

You can quickly switch between the three views of this form (browse, tree, search).

The right pane shows the articles linked to the selected classification level in the left pane.

Screenshot

This is the search in grouping system of Elecat, which is used for distributing Elestore data.

Searching is here done in the terms of the grouping system so that a user does not have to know where a specific term is grouped (some classification systems can be quite complex).

You can quickly switch between the three views of this form (browse, tree, search).

More details here...

We strongly recommend to put much emphasis on the use of one or several well-defined classification systems as this makes the use of the product database much easier, more convenient and quicker.

Finding capabilities

When using Elestore, Elepub and Elecat as a family, there can be three forms of presenting data to the user each of which has its own way of searching and finding:

  • In a database both locally and on the Internet server.

    The local and central databases are searched by using full-text search capabilities for text fields. Additionally, non-text fields are searched like in any SQL database management system.

  • In HTML pages on the Internet for sporadic users.

    For the HTML pages we offer also a full-text search similar to the Internet search engines. All the content of the HTML pages on the server are indexed and the user can employ a full-text search on this content and select search results from a list similar to search engines like Google or AltaVista. From there he can open the pages and view the results.

  • In CDF pages (Catalog Data Format) stored in Elecat locally at frequent users.

    Similar to the search in HTML pages the user can also full-text search his local catalog database in CDF format (Elecat's own intelligent page format). This searching allows for the Boolean connection ("AND" / "OR") of several keywords and it presents the results in a quick and compact way of navigating through the result pages. On the resulting pages the wanted keywords are highlighted with a yellow background to make them better visible.

Here are some screenshots of the searching forms in Elestore and Elecat (as the tool for distributing data to users):

Screenshot

This is the database search form in Elestore where a full-text search can be combined with a search for specific field values (dimension, weight etc).

The search result is presented in the lower table.

A double-click on any of the found articles opens the article details form with all attributes, texts and values.

The same form exists in Elecat.

Screenshot

This is the same database search form in Elecat, which is used for distributing data from Elestore.

The functionality is similar to Elestore only the presented data can be limited (user's decision).

The user can very quickly switch between the search form and the classification (grouping) form.

Screenshot

This is the full text seach form in Elecat for searching in formatted CDF pages.

The result is presented in a small form allowing for very quick selection and navigation in the found pages.

Screenshot

This is the same full text seach form in Elecat after a search has been performed.

It presents the found pages in the bottom table and allows for very quick selection of and navigation in the found pages.


More details here for Elecat (Full Text Search and article search) and Elestore