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Product Catalog Import and Export

Import and export of products is used for several reasons:

  • Initial population from third party data sources
  • Moving products from one catalog to another
  • Changing in mass the catagories of products
  • Changing in mass product prices, descriptions, or other properties

Import / Export Files, Formats, and Locations

Products are exported and imported in two parts

  • A product definition data file
  • A directory and 'tar' file of images used in the products

The product definition file has three variants: Full info, prices, and images.

These files are kept in an import/export working directory.    They can be large and slow to upload, download, or generate and having the last file around for reference or for re-download can be useful.   There is only one of each kept, sharec with all product catalogs, and if you want more than one you need to download the files to your PC.    The files kept are:

  • prodcat_full.xls – a product definition file with all information
  • prodcat_prices.xls  – a product definition file only price and 'onsale' status.  This subset is useful or mass changing of prices.
  • prodcat_images.xls  – a product definition file only the image names.   This subset is useful or mass changing of images.
  • prodcat_images  – a browsable directory of exported images
  • prodcat_images.tar  – a TAR archive of the exported images
  • import_images  – a browsable directory of images uploaded for import

The import and export format for product data is a plain text file with tabular data and deliminators.  These are more commonly known as 'csv' or 'tsv' files.   The file suffix is irrelivent  – it is what is in the file that matters, not what the file is named. The suffix actually mostly works to give your computer a hint of what program to use to read the file.   For example, the 'xls' suffix generally means "use the spreadsheet program" to edit this file.

Tip: if exporting end importing, just leave the file format alone.   If you do not change the format all will be fine.  

If creating the product definition file for the first time, use a spread sheet and "save as" a tsv file prior to import.

Spreadsheet Content

The contents of the spreadsheet is typically a header row and values.   The column names do not matter as they can be mapped upon import.

Here is simplified example spreadsheet

Category Part No Item Name Mileage Price Main Image Name
SUV suv1 First SUV 54,324 21123 suv1.jpg
Sedan sedan1 2007 Toyota Camery 24500 sedan1.jpg


Big Hint: The easiest way to build the spreadsheet is to add one dummy product to the product catalog and export the catalog,   This gives you the full list of available columns for your catalog.  In the dummy product be sure to fill in the fields you plan to use as unused fields are not exported.

Image Names and Sizes

In import and export the image names are presumed to be unique.   It would be a terrible practice for all the products to have as their images "image1", "image2", and "image3".   Best practice would be "car-234456-image1", "car-234499-image1", etc.

This uniqueness is persistent.   If, for example, you uploaded two products that use the image "nail-polish.jpg" then the image is truly shared such that if you changed the image for one they would both change.     This sharing does not happen if you uploaded the images product by product as you manually add products,

Do not use oversized images, they are slow to upload.    The maximum image size displayed is 1200x1200px.   You may load larger images, but when they are stored they will be downsized.    Note that exported images may be smaller than the imported images if such downsizing occured.

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