[ic] difference between catalog types (Was: Answers Wanted: 2-level categorization: Best strategy?)

Doug Alcorn doug@lathi.net
09 Jan 2001 10:12:20 -0500

Steve & Patti Getzinger <steveandpatti@wubs.org> writes:

> +N6REJ wrote:
> > where in which manual does it state the differences in the catalog
> > types?
> They are all the same with exception of Basic. Only difference is
> look. Test is also all by itself..

That's mostly true with respect to the database scheme and the tag
support.  However, that's not true with respect to the template
layout.  While 'construct' is more flashy with it's mouse-overs, I
find 'barry' easier to edit and customize (mainly because it is
simpler and I'm still not _very_ smart on IC).

'barry' just uses a flat directory structure to store all the pieces.
'construct' is much more complicated.  Unlike 'barry', the expansion
of the template depend much more on the actual content of the page.
With 'barry', only the logobar uses a scratch variable to set the page
title.  'construct' has all kinds of voodoo to get the recommended
products and promotions and what not.

Also, that doesn't really answer all of the question.  As far as
documentation, the catalog templates are probably the most poorly
documented aspect of IC.  Some portions of the templates and db scheme
are really fundamental to IC (such as pricing and shipping).  Others
are really fundamental to the template itself (such as the
relationship between the area and cat tables).  The pieces that
IC-centric are documented.  The other pieces have no documenation as
far as I have found.


Maybe the assumption is that since we have the UI, we don't
need to know what all the fields in the 'cat' table are for or how
they are used in the barry/construct templates.  I'm all for user
interfaces.  Yes, let's make it easier to get work done.  However, I'm
still a huge fan of command line interfaces.  The CLI is (imnsho) the
only real way to understand the underlying structure.  For instance,
look at all the "Web Designers" that have only used MS-FrontPage.
"Why does your pages look bad on at least 30% of the web browsers on
the Internet?"  "Uh, I don't know.  What do you mean the pages display
differently?"  (No offense intended to any developers that actually
use MS-FrontPage.  I understand that quite a few people really enjoy
it.  My point is that at some point you really have to get down and
dirty with the HTML.)

In the same way, understanding the db scheme is the only way to really
understand what IC is doing and why.  Yes, it is possible to figure it
out on your own by looking at the Tag Reference and the template code;
but that knowlege is hard won.

 (__) Doug Alcorn (mailto:doug@lathi.net http://www.lathi.net)
 oo / PGP 02B3 1E26 BCF2 9AAF 93F1  61D7 450C B264 3E63 D543
 |_/  If you're a capitalist and you have the best goods and they're
      free, you don't have to proselytize, you just have to wait.