WebSphere Commerce has a host of impactful Business Tools that provide control over catalog management capabilities without requiring development experience. Defining and Descriptive Attributes are necessary for some of those tools and, starting with WebSphere Commerce 7, those Attributes are now stored in the Attribute Dictionary. Here’s a quick refresher for those who easily confuse Defining and Descriptive Attributes:
Defining Attributes are qualities that, appropriately, define the SKU that is being created. These aspects take you from the base product to the actual configuration of the product that your customer wants to buy. For example: if the product is a pair of shoes, the multiple color and size options are Defining Attributes. So, a pair of brown shoes in a size 10 would be a specific Defining Attribute combination.
Descriptive Attributes are product qualities that stay the same no matter what. Following the shoe example, the material of the shoes would be a descriptive attribute. So the shoes will always be made of leather, no matter which color and size you select.
The Attribute Dictionary stores all of the Defining and Descriptive Attributes used among a catalog’s products.
The Attribute Dictionary is at your disposal out of the box in order to standardize the attribute values that are commonly found throughout your catalog. As Ember Crooks illustrates in this post, the attribute table now holds a list of all possible attributes without associating them to a particular catalog entry. Prior to the Attribute Dictionary, the attribute table had a row for every combination of catalog entry IDs, making it one of the biggest tables to attempt to navigate in WebSphere Commerce.
Some other benefits of the Attribute Dictionary include:
When an attribute or attribute value is changed in one place, that change is reflected in all catalog entries.
The Attribute Dictionary can be easily browsed to locate and manage specific attributes.
Assigned values can be reused for multiple catalog entries, which avoids creating duplicate assigned values, which can improve the performance of retrieving attribute information from the database.
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