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  1. #1
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    Determining number of tiers?
    Thanks to the friendly folks at the Share-A-Sale forum here at ABestWeb, I have learned about this remarkable program. I've just downloaded the trial version which allows me to practice on up to 20 records at one time. As a newbie, I'll try to do my homework first and only ask questions that I can't find elsewhere. Having checked around, I cannot figure this out:

    When you download a datafeed that you've never seen before, can you WebMerge veterans immediately tell how many tiers are necessary for the best webpage presentation?

    If so, what are you looking for to make that determination?

    Any feedback is appreciated...

    .

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager
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    The number of tiers used to present product info is somewhat subjective, dependent on the judgment of the person making the site, the focus of products at the site being built, and the range of info available in the feed which could be used to derive a taxonomy.

    I'm not intimately familiar with the structure of SAS feeds (I'm just the software guy), but hopefully some of the experienced affiliates here can lend their tips on how they approach this.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  3. #3
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    Thanks Richard -- I'll be purchasing the full version as soon as I become a little more experienced. I'm hoping the number of tiers is something that can be determined in a somewhat mechanical way (as opposed to subjective), but I don't know, thus the question. For example, would counting the number of images for each product (1 thumbnail ; 1 larger version) indicate a 3 tier site? Any guidance is appreciated...

    .

  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aphiliac
    For example, would counting the number of images for each product (1 thumbnail ; 1 larger version) indicate a 3 tier site?
    Aphiliac the number of tiers you have may also be dictated by the number of categories and subcategories that the merchant has or you decide are necessary.

    For instance if the merchant has a large number of categories and subcategories you may want to break those into subcategories before going to a product page to make finding an individual product easier.

    main category --> subcategory --> product page --> product detail page

    In this case you would be building a 4 tier site. Unfortunately I haven't found a way to automatically determine the number of tiers. Making the navigation as intuitive as possible for your users as well as your overall site design is the best way to make the determination.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  5. #5
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    Unfortunately I haven't found a way to automatically determine the number of tiers
    Thanks rematt for your insight. It sounds like you've been around WebMerge for awhile, so if you've not come up with a way to quickly make the determination, I'll take it that it's not possible... which is what I needed to know...

    .

  6. #6
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    When you download a datafeed that you've never seen before, can you WebMerge veterans immediately tell how many tiers are necessary for the best webpage presentation?
    Aphiliac,

    If we're talking about the SAS datafeeds, most of the SAS datafeeds that I have use have the same format.

    Old version:

    ProductID|Name|MerchantID|Merchant|Link|Thumbnail|BigImage|Price|RetailPrice|
    Category|SubCategory|Description|Custom1|Custom2|Custom3|Custom4|Custom5|LastUpdated
    But usually most all the old datafeeds used Custom1 and Custom2 for the merchant Category and Subcategory, some used Custom2 and Custom3.

    Usually just two of the Custom#s Fields, for the Category and Subcategory

    New version:

    ProductID|Name|MerchantID|Merchant|Link|Thumbnail|BigImage|Price|RetailPrice|Category|
    SubCategory|Description|Custom1|Custom2|Custom3|Custom4|Custom5|LastUpdated|status|
    manufacturer|partNumber|merchantCategory|merchantSubcategory|shortDescription|ISBN|UPC
    With the merchants that are using the New Version, some still use just two of the Custom#s Fields for the Category and Subcategory and the new merchantCategory and merchantSubcategory Fields.

    Some are just using the new merchantCategory and merchantSubcategory Fields only, and none of the Custom#s Fields.

    --------------------

    So now that you know about what Fields they use for their products Category and Subcategory, it's up to you to decide how do you want to display those products.

    The way I used to do it is a simple 3 steps, I don't called tiers, but I guess it's the same thing.

    1 - The Index page with the categories and subcategories links menu.
    2 - The categories and subcategories page with links to the products pages.
    3 - The product pages with just the product that was selected from the products pages.

    There are many other ways to to display the datafeed, but it's up to you to choose how to display it.

    Here: Frank's WebMerge Tutorial and Web-Procreate WebMerge Tutorial you can get other ideas.

    On the SAS forum, you can also download the templates I made a couple of years ago.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Mr Sal for your informative response -- very helpful. I think the thing for me to do next is to start practicing with a couple of the smaller real-life SAS datafeeds, then work my way up to the bigger players. Presumably the technique will become clearer as my WebMerge competence grows (at least, that's the plan!)...

    .

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Someone should warn you that it can be very disappointing if you haven't edited the database before running WebMerge on it. There are hidden shoals and reefs in them thar datafeeds. I just spent close to 7 hours editing a datafeed that had entire MS Frontpage HTML pages (in antique HTML2.01)hiding in the "ProductDescription" field and is full of (no-commission) direct links to the merchant. There may exist a database that can be run through WebMerge just as you get it but I haven't found one yet...and maybe I'm too picky. WebMerge is a terrific product, but your results are only as good as what goes into it.

  9. #9
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    2busy, I knew about using a program like Excel to edit/clean up the database in advance, but I had NO idea that there might be times when a db would be such a mess that I'd have to devote ALL day to it. I sure hope that is the rare exception. All my db's will be coming via Share A Sale, so with any luck those merchants will conform to the SAS format that Mr Sal discussed, and thus might be more uniform. I'll find out soon enough -- thanks for the headsup...

    .

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aphiliac
    I sure hope that is the rare exception. All my db's will be coming via Share A Sale, so with any luck those merchants will conform to the SAS format that Mr Sal discussed, and thus might be more uniform. I'll find out soon enough -- thanks for the headsup...

    .
    The SAS feed is uniform as to column titles and where information should be located, however they do not police the actual information provided with in the product information. So if a merchant has HTML code in their description you will need to pull it out yourself. The same with punctuation and odd characters in product names, if you are using the product names to generate your URL then you must take out this punctuation. For example if they have a / in the product name Webmerge will create a folder named for all info before the / and create a product name using the info to the right of the /, this will create bad links in your published pages. Sorry if that was hard to follow, I am not very "tech talk" savy.

    It usually takes me a couple hours on even a small feed (300 to 400 products) to get it cleaned up. A large feed of 1000's of products can take much longer.

  11. #11
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    Thanks very much billham for your added insight -- it has become clear that this process is not as straightforward as I originally had believed.

    Since starting this thread I've been trying to become more proficient in using MS Excel, by reading online tutorials and taking some online training (free from MS when you buy Office 2007).

    Am I right in saying that Excel is the program of choice, when it comes to cleaning up databases? MS Office 2007 also includes Access, but that appears to have a steeper learning curve.

    If anyone here can confirm that Excel is the way to go (or if something else is better), please let me know as I'm about ready to jump back in the WebMerge waters again...

    .

  12. #12
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    Access has fewer limitations in terms of field size. It may be worth the modest learning curve, and once you get the hand of it you may find it quite enjoyable.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  13. #13
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    Thanks Richard for the advice -- I'll shift my focus from Excel to Access. Database stuff is entirely new to me, but Microsoft has a number of online tutorials, so hopefully some of it will sink in (a challenge, believe me) ...


  14. #14
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    Access has a great many features, but fortunately what you'll be using it for will require learning very few of them. Just get a feel for setting up fields, importing and exporting data, and editing the field contents - that should get you started.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

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