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Redesigning the ICE Product List

One of my long term plans for the ICE Product list is to move from being a set of static pages to being database driven.

A bit of technical background on the site, I’m currently using WordPress on my site, although most of the page entries other than the ones on the main page are still either standalone php pages or WordPress Pages that just contain an include statement that pulls in a standalone page.

Ideally I want to get to the point where someone using the site can pick which items they want to see on a list (i.e. All Rolemaster, RM2, English only, etc) and how they want it sorted (Product number, release date ascending or descending, alphabetically, etc.
It would also be good if they could choose which information would show on the list

Then they can generate a customized product list and still be able to click a link to get to the full product information page.

So, a few items to consider:

Are there any plug-ins for WordPress that can handle this sort of thing? One suggestion is to look for image gallery mods for WordPress that have categories and searching? I could put the description of the book in where the photo description usually goes.

I could set up a bunch of customized fields for the info and store the info that way.

Joomla has also been suggested and looks like it has some real possibilities, I just started looking and I’ve already spotted a couple items that might do the trick. EZ Catalog Lite is one example

The option I think I will go with is to set up a seperate mySQl database and do some php coding to get what I want. There are several reasons for this.

First is that it would be easier to import the information from my Excel spreadsheet rather than trying to populate a bunch of custom fields or redo all the pages in some other product

Secondly is that it is something I’ve wanted to learn anyway, Switching to something like Joomla would pretty much mean doing a complete redesign of the site. If I do the coding myself I can move things over in stages. I can put just the RM1 items in the database and have just switch the list over while still keep the links to the current static pages, then add RM2 and eventually create the detail pages from the database one at a time. I’m not sure I could do that with something like Joomla.

Last time I checked I figured I have over 400 pages of products, so whatever plan I come up with has to be able to be implemented in such a way that I can mix the new pages with the old pages and slowly switch things over.

The other thing I want to be able to handle better is the various versions of the same product, which covers two main areas, multiple printings where there are some minor differences between the printings and multiple formats, such as softcover, hardcover and pdf.

I want to be able to generate a basic list that looks similiar to the one I have now, but also an expanded list that includes all the variations.

I also want to be able to generate links to affiliates such as Noble Knight, ebay, and ICE (if they ever get a store that supports Affiliates) where people can buy the products.

The other thing that might be interesting about setting up the database myself is conceivably I could give someone like ictus an account and connection info so he could set up something on the RPGForums site and generate a list in his own format with up to date information and not have to maintain it seperately.
Maybe ICE could do something similiar in the future for a product list and filter out some of the unwanted material like MERP. That’s way down the line though…

An initial thought on what the Tables in the Database would look like is:

MAIN TABLE
Product_ID
Product Line – MERP, Rolemaster (Table)
Product Edition Code – RM1, RM2, RMSS (Table)
Stock #
Authors (Table)
ISBN
Publisher (default ICE)
Publish Date
Cover Price
Format – PDF, Hardcover, Softcover, BoxSet (perhaps seperate table?)
Page count
BookType – Sourcebook, Rulebook, Adventure (Table)
Cover Text
Language (Table)
Thumbnail Image
Cover Image
Map 1 Image
Map 2 Image
Brent’s Notes
Copy Owned

Need to decide how to handle the different formats for the different products, might want to move to a seperate table and move a few of the fields down to that table, or leave the most common or first version in the main table and put additional version in the secondary table. Likewise for various printings.

FORMAT TABLE
Product_ID
Format
Stock #
Publisher
Publish Date
Cover Price

PRINTING TABLE (can be variations for different printings of the same product)
Product_ID
Format (maybe?)
Printing
Notes

RELATED_PRODUCTS TABLE
Product_ID1
Product_ID2
Notes

PRODUCT_LINE TABLE
Product_Line
Product_Line_Description

PRODUCT_EDITION TABLE
Product_Line
Product_Edition
Product_Edition_Description

PUBLISHER TABLE
Publisher
Publisher_Description

BOOK_TYPE TABLE
Book_type

AUTHOR TABLE
Author_id
Author First Name
Author Middle Name
Author Last Name

PRODUCT_AUTHOR_CROSS_REF TABLE
Product_id
Author_id

LANGUAGE TABLE
Language

PURCHASE TABLE
Product_id
Format
Sellers_URL

1 comment to Redesigning the ICE Product List

  • Coming along slowly with the Database version of the product list. Installed EasyPHP on my computer which is allowing me to do most of the testing and design on my local P.C. instead of having to do it on the live website. I’ve got the test pages working well, now I’m just adding all the additional information from all the product pages into the big Excel spreadsheet that I’m using to create the import file for the Main Table for the Database. It’s a ton of work to get that all in there even though I had a lot of it entered already and the rest is just cutting and pasting. I often forget exactly how much information I’ve gathered about ICE products over the years until I do some project like this where I need to look at it all as a group. I’m hoping to have a test version of the new database online by the end of this week, which I’l then need to cross check against the existing lists to make sure I haven’ missed anything.

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