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A customizable product is one that has configurable components. For example, you sell desktop workstations. At the time of purchase, the user can select from several types of disk drive, monitor, keyboard, and mouse to configure the workstation.
Another type of customizable product is one that has other customizable products as components. For example, you sell a telephone PBX system that includes 6 rack-mounted PC-based modules. Each module is configurable in a fashion similar to a desktop computer. The components of the PBX system form a product hierarchy. To configure the PBX, the user begins at the top with the PBX as a whole and works down through the hierarchy, configuring its components.
These parts that make up a customizable product are stored together to form a product version. When you modify any of the parts of the product, you can release a new version. Customers see only the latest released version of a customizable product.
The product administrator has access to a special form of the customizable product, called the work space. The work space is an unreleased version of the product and is not available to users. The work space is like a workbench where the product administrator builds and revises the product before releasing it to customers.
Products that are customizable solely because they have attributes, do not require a work space. However, if you want to write configuration rules regarding the attribute values, you must create a work space and use the Rule Designer. If you want to create special Web pages for selecting the attribute values, you must create a work space and use the Product UI Designer.
The Product Designer is where you add components to a customizable hierarchy and arrange them into a hierarchy. You can add single products, products from multiple classes, parts of product classes, or all of product classes. Products you add come from the product table.
The Product UI Designer is where you design the pages a user sees when they start a configuration session or when you enter validation mode. Several types of user interface themes are provided that govern the basic look and feel of the Web pages as well as the layout and types of controls.
When the user configures a customizable product, an instance of the product is created and presented in the user interface. For example, a user is creating a quote. The user selects a customizable product and clicks the Customize button. The system creates an instance of the customizable product and generates the browser pages that display it. The user then configures the product. When the user is finished, the user adds the configured product to the quote.
The themes and UI controls that you use to design pages in the Product UI Designer are controlled by Web template files. You can modify these templates by inserting variables in them and then associating these variables with items in a customizable product. For example, instead of displaying the attribute values Red, Green, Blue, you could define variables that call gif files to display the colors themselves. The User Interface Property Designer is where you define these associations, called user interface properties.
Resources keep track of important configuration-related amounts in a customizable product. For example, you are designing a customizable product called Computer Model. This product has several choices of chassis, each with a different number of card slots. Several of the components in this product are expansion cards that consume these slots. To keep track of the number of slots available you could define a resource called Slots Available. When the user selects a chassis, a rule associated with the customizable product would add the number of slots in the chassis to a Slots Available resource. Similarly, when the user selects any type of expansion card, rules would decrease Slots Available by 1. In this fashion, you can monitor slot usage and write rules to prevent misconfiguration of the product.
Linked items provide access to other types of information besides products. You can define links to fields in a business component, to the login name of the user, or to the current system date. This lets you write rules that affect only certain login names, are conditioned on dates, or are conditioned on business component information.
When you define components and attributes for a customizable product, you need a mechanism to restrict the combinations of these to the configurations you sell. For example, you sell shirts in three sizes and three colors. However, not all sizes come in all colors. You need a way to restrict the colors for each size to the ones you sell. You do this by writing configuration rules that define the allowable configurations of your products.
Configuration rules can prevent the user from picking an item if another item has already been picked. They can also automatically add an item when another item has been picked. Configuration rules can also be used to give up-sell messages or recommendations to the user when they pick an item.
The Siebel system provides a set of configuration-related events and methods. These allow you to write scripts that add procedural logic to the configuration process. When the user selects certain items or does things like updating the shopping cart, you can use scripts to check the configuration, verify and adjust pricing, or forward information to other applications. Scripts can be associated with items and can be set to trigger when certain defined events occur.
|Product Administration Guide|