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Introducing A New Prototype—Product Variations (A Better Implementation Of Product Option Combinations) Rate Topic   - - - - -

  • remoteone
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Posted 29 November 2018 - 11:23 AM #61


I think that all of the cs-cart owners want to have finaly good solution for such an important future. We've been watching your efforts to do something way too long. 1,5 years in beta, postponing further development of our stores waiting for the releases, independent developers not able to improve their addons and not knowing how the things will be handled. And in the meantime you focuse your efforts on other things which noone needs or wants

 Excactly! Im close to giving up waiting.



The interneational forum seems abandoned and no one is paying attention to it anymore. Please clarify if you've decided that you concentrate your efforts on the russian builds only?

Things do seemed to have slowed somewhat,

  • ikoshkin
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Posted 29 November 2018 - 02:06 PM #62

If you don't mind, I'll stick to the essential information in this message. That way it will work even out of context.


Variations are a crucial part of CS-Cart, and a widely-requested one as well. That's why one of our current goals is to bring product variations out of beta. We'll be able to do that once the basic functionality of variations (as in, what they allow merchants to do on their storefront) meets the needs of merchants who use CS-Cart. There are many needs (like ERP integration, convenient export and import, etc.), but in this message I'll focus on the needs related to the basic functionality.

Here are some of the needs we see:

1. Multiple variants of a product with different prices, quantities, images, etc.

2. Showing those variants in the product list either as separate products, or as one product (with the selector on the product details page). Maybe even both: for example, if a T-shirt has different colors and sizes, I'd display colors as separate products (with own URLs and SEO names) and leave the size selector on the product page.

3. Filtering these variants.

4. Easy management, not only via import and export, but also in the admin panel.

Variations in their current form only address point 1, and, partly, point 4 (I'm saying "partly" because of some import/export complications and the presence of extra entities, such as "configurable product" and the old "option combinations", which is confusing). For technical reasons, we need to address point 2 and 3 before moving on to 4. The goal was threefold:

• Find a solution that will address all the points above (and a few others mentioned earlier in this topic).

• Find a solution that merchants can start using without a hassle (just like there was a way to turn option combinations into product variations).

• Find a solution that is feasible from the programming standpoint.

• Find a solution that doesn't overcomplicate CS-Cart (and preferably, simplifies product management for merchants).

The introduction of "product groups" mentioned by Jacek is the first step in that direction. In their current state, product groups act like variations, but are based on product features and allow customers to switch between separate products. So, there is no "parent product": customers see all these products appear on the list, but switch between them just like they switch between variations. If you don't want some products appear on the storefront as separate items, you can create them as variations.

Ultimately, we're planning to base the mechanism of switching between similar products (be it the current variations, or the to-be-implemented product groups) on features, and have all variations appear on one tab on the product editing page in the admin panel (regardless of whether or not they appear on the storefront as separate products). Just as I'm writing this message, we're working on tasks that aim for that goal. For now, product groups just exist alongside the current implementation of variations.

Please note that product groups are at an early stage of development. We wouldn't have mentioned them at all in their current state, if it weren't for a question on the Russian forum whether or not CS-Cart allowed switching between normal products just like between variations, and without an abstract "parent product". We simply said we were working in that direction and provided an example.


I realize there are still many questions, but I can only tell so much at this point. If you'd like to have a look at what we're working on, product groups in their current state are available at http://dev.demo.cs-cart.com. We'll announce the upcoming changes officially once we've made enough progress, once there's something solid to give feedback on. Until then, things may change significantly (potential shortcomings addressed, bugs fixed without mentioning it, etc.).

Still, I hope that clears up some things about our plans and what we're working on.

  • Jacek
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Posted 29 November 2018 - 05:16 PM #63

Ikoshin, first of all I would like to thank you for your answer.


I know that you're trying to improve the software and I understand that it is complicated process. Managing this kind of a change in a software architecture and providing backward compatibility is never easy.


Anyway, try to be in our shoes. As an entrepreneur and a person responsible for the e-commerce channel in my organization I need to have some reliable answers on which I can base my decitions and plan the feature growth and actions. Right now, even after your answer I'm still not sure what will hapen in the feature.


1) Should I switch to product variations right now (even though they're in beta and are missing some of the basic features)?

2) Should I wait for the product groups even though in my opinion their design will introduce chaos for the catalog management?

3) Will product variations and product groups be marged together? If yes then when and how? If not, will they function as a separate solutions?

4) How to transform product options in bulk to one of the above solutions? Will this function be available or should I write some kind of a migration tool all by myself?

5) Should I develope missing features as a form of addons for the current state of product variations? If yes, how many changes will you introduce and how expensive will it be for me to keep up with those changes?


As entrepreneurs and store owners we have to keep up with our competitors.


For 1,5 year I've been saying to our teammates that essential e-commerce features they need  are gonna be introduced by cs-cart team very soon. In this time nothing happens and our competitors gain market share in our niche because they've gone with another software vendors.


In e-commerce we make promise to our customers that we will deliver them goods within given time. We don't tell them, give me your money and someday you will get this and that but I can't promise you when it will be and how the delivered product will look like. In my opinion, the second statement shows your behaviour right now.


So please, no more "we will", "we're working on it" etc. Simply tell us exactly when you will introduce final solution and how it will work.


I'm sure you have already figured out the software architecture of this and that you know how the final software will look like. Share this knowledge with us, give us solid timeline and keep the fingers crossed that we will be willing to stick with you until you launch it.


E-commerce is changing dynamically. We need to adapt or we will die.

  • Flow
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Posted 29 November 2018 - 09:11 PM #64

I've got to agree with Jacek here. I'm in the same boat... 

When life hands you lemons, bring on the Tequila baby!

  • natewallis
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Posted 29 November 2018 - 11:40 PM #65

+1 to Jacek. 


Customers will only hang on for so long. 


Thankful that I can stick with option combinations on our 200 product catalogue.. couldn't imagine dealing with 20,000 products. 


Good luck!

  • remoteone
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Posted 30 November 2018 - 01:03 AM #66

+1 to Jacek.

We must at some point decide whether to wait for csc developments thus fall behind our competitors or to move on. Crunch time has passed and we are setting up a new VPS to use an alternate eCommerce software. Its a lot of work and learning new software is painfully time consuming, but we now see no choice. We will keep CSC licences active, living in the hope, but right now we must seek a more suitable platform.


A few months ago Simtechdev asked for suggestions regarding addon development, my reply was:

My suggestion is that Simtechdev lend to cs-cart a few programmers so that they can finish Product Variations and then update the eBay sync addon!
Otherwise cscart will die, and there will be no cscart to addon to.

There was a little sarcasm there,  but they seemed to take my point.

  • ikoshkin
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Posted 30 November 2018 - 09:09 AM #67

I've compiled a short list of questions and answers. This is all I can say until the official announcement, and a lot of things are subject to change.

What is all this about?

It's about product groups, a new functionality of the Product Variations add-on. They are available at http://dev.demo.cs-cart.com/admin.php. Currently they work as follows:

1. Create a product feature (or multiple features).

2. Specify the right purpose for it (switching between similar products).

3. Go to the product editing page and specify different values of this feature for a few products.

4. Create a product group in the corresponding tab on the product editing page.

You'll be able to switch between different products just like between the current product variations.


Why add product groups when variations already exist?

Variations don't address some of the needs of merchants. They can't be displayed on the storefront as separate products; instead they require a parent product (a so-called configurable product). Also, variations can't be filtered, because there is no filtering by options right now.


What are the differences between product groups and product variations?

Note that I'm speaking about the current state at http://dev.demo.cs-cart.com/admin.php. As any yet-unreleased and unannounced functionality, product groups are subject to change.

Variations: you create one product, then generate its multiple variants based on options. All these variations appear as a single product on the storefront. Also, a variation doesn't have its own URL or a unique SEO name.

Groups: you create multiple products (with unique SEO names and URLs) and add the ability to switch between them via features. Each of the products is displayed separately on the storefront, but to customers it looks just like switching between variations.


Why are product groups based on features rather than on options?

We realized that there should be a clearer distinction between features and options.

An option is supposed to be something extra, and not necessarily required for a product or specific to it (like gift wrap, prolonged warranty, etc.)

A feature is an inherent trait of a product (for example, color or size), inseparable from the product. Changing a value of a feature means having a different product (even if it's only slightly different).

Does it mean that product variations should also be based on options?

Yes, that's the plan right now. Naturally, if variations exist in your store, they'll continue to work as they do now, even if you upgrade to a CS-Cart version where variations are based on features.


Can groups and variations work together?

Yes, absolutely. They complement each other: use groups when you want to display separate products on the storefront (for example, different colors of the same T-shirt), and use variations when you don't want to display separate products on the storefront (for example, different sizes for every color of the T-shirt).

Will product variations and groups be merged into a single entity, or will they work separately?

Technically, groups and variations will probably remain for separate use cases (see the example with T-shirt above). But they may end up on one tab, and one of the goals is to make them easy to manage.

How do I transform option combinations to option variations or product groups?

There is a way to turn option combinations into product variations. However, it currently needs to be done product by product. When that functionality was implemented, it didn't account for product groups. That's why we are not developing it further right now. That question can be revisited once we finish implementing product groups.


Should I switch to product variations right now, or wait for product groups?

It depends. If you'd like to use the functionality of product groups (such as unique SEO names and URLs for some "variations"), it's best to wait. There might not be a functionality for turning the existing variations into groups.

Should I develop missing functionality as add-ons for the current state of product variations?

It's best to avoid customizing the current implementation of product variations. We will make changes to them; the extent is unclear, but can be approximated from the answers above. For example, before the release of product groups we'll be looking into simplifying product management by getting rid of parent products for variations.


What is the release date of the new functionality?

We don't have an exact date. We're hoping to finish implementing product groups within the next couple of months.

  • imago
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Posted 30 November 2018 - 11:07 AM #68

feature is an inherent trait of a product (for example, color or size), inseparable from the product. Changing a value of a feature means having a different product (even if it's only slightly different).


You will arrive soon at the fundamental philosophical question of primary and secondary qualities :-)