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Configuration Column Types

Like Feature tables, Advisor Configuration tables ask for a name and an optional description of the table columns you are creating. Unlike Feature tables, Configuration tables require that you specify a column type: output, input or subtable. The type of column in a Configuration table represents the purpose that the data entered into it serves in defining a product configuration. After you define all columns, choose the Editor tab. In the Editor view, you can enter row and cell data for the table.

Input Columns

Each input column, sometimes called a key column, in a Configuration table corresponds to a Feature table. The cells in input columns must contain the code values of items in the corresponding Feature table. Each row in a Configuration table represents a configuration, either valid or invalid, of the Feature code values listed in its input column cells.

When you use a Feature table name as an input column name in a Configuration table, in the Table Editor view you fill in the code values of the rows in the corresponding Feature table.

For example, if one Feature table in a pageset defines the exterior colors of a car, and another Feature table defines the interior colors, in the Configuration Table Editor view you would enter the exterior and interior color codes from the Feature tables in the input columns for EXT_COLOR and INT_COLOR. You would specify which exterior colors are available with each interior color by matching each exterior color value with each interior color value, row by row. The following example determines which models are available with which exterior and interior colors. This example uses range functions to simplify the data entry process. See Range Functions for Advisor Configuration Tables for more information.

In Figure 4, the highlighted row shows that the Model GXE is available with a red exterior and interior.

Figure 4. Configuration Editor Displaying Input Columns
Click for full size image

The valid configurations (the combinations of Feature code values that represent available products) appear in the Configuration table list as DATA Row Types. The invalid configurations, the unavailable feature combinations, appear in the Configuration table list as EXCEPTION Row Types.

Output Columns

Output columns contain data that is not evaluated during the configuration matching process. Output column data contains information about a configuration without being part of the configuration definition itself. Use an output column to define items and events that exist as a result of a user selecting a configuration in the application. An item or event can be a variable that is defined, text that is displayed, or an image. Output columns hold the recommended solution for the user-selected choices.

Every Configuration table must contain at least one output column, called RULE. Advisor automatically adds this column whenever you create a new Configuration table. The RULE column defines the text, called an exception message, that appears in the application to guide users when they select an invalid configuration.

In the Configuration Table Editor, cells in the RULE column are usually empty for the DATA Row Types and filled in for the EXCEPTION Row Types. This is because the Exception Row Types define invalid product configurations. Cells in other output columns, such as a column that defines a variable, may contain data only in the DATA Row Sets, because their existence is dependent on a valid configuration instead.

Subtable Columns

Subtable columns point from a Configuration table to a Configuration subtable. The difference between a Configuration table and a Configuration subtable is the order in which the configurations defined in the table are evaluated.

If the engine reaches a subtable column during the configuration matching process, it pauses and evaluates the configurations defined in the subtable. If the engine does not find a match in the subtable, it returns to the original Configuration table and continues to evaluate defined configurations from the point at which it exited. For more information, see The Configuration Matching Process.

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