Practical Enterprise Web Catalog Development Wisdom

Pragmatic, written from experience, comprehensive, clear, business-centric, contribution to the bottom line.


Building web catalogs is a major endeavor, driven by large database repositories, dynamically served web content, quickly changing prices and feature sets, user comparison capabilities, and more. There is no shortage of challenges in this field, not the least of which is the unfamiliarity of this material to most readers. This books does a great job of exposing the issues and walking through the large number of areas surrounding web catalog development. If you’re serious about this kind of project, this is a great place to get a brief education and a good source of ideas in the field.

This book is divided into 12 chapters. The first takes a high level look at MPDM (Marketing Product Data Management) and how it applies to enterprise applications. The way that product marketing information is managed provides the key entry point to generating catalogs of any kind. Chapter 2 introduces the online catalog trends driving MDPM toward a uniform repository for generating both print and online catalogs. Chapter 3 provides a lay-of-the-land assessment of where technology is today and explores the four stages of electronic commerce - static publishing, dynamic publishing, legacy integration and transaction management - providing clarity through a look at a few different audience profiles.

Chapter 4 explores strategic choices, including technology and personnel requirements. Chapter 5 has a focus on cost estimates for a real-world project, leading to an assessment of feature requirements in a working system, covered in Chapter 6. I found this chapter especially informative, identifying the kinds of issues you need to keep in mind if you are serious about web catalog development. The focus is placed squarely on search techniques and making sure the user of such a system can find the information they are looking for using the methods they need to have access to. Ignoring these issues is clearly a step in the wrong direction.

Chapter 7 covers web navigation and how to guide the user through an effective experience. Chapter 8 looks at division of labor, a reminder that web catalog development is unlikely to be a one man job. This chapter is likely to be most interesting to managers and project planners, covering everything from fundamental database skill sets to publishing, customer and technical support requirements. Chapter 9 takes this information and pushes forward with a look at the process of web catalog development. Chapter 10 lists a few useful guidelines and Chapter 11 closes with a look at open issues in the world of catalog development, things like catalog aggregation, data interchange formats, emerging standards and so on.

There is a great deal of interest in web catalog development and electronic commerce, and this book provides a sobering look at the scale of development you need to engage in to deliver a successful end-user solution. If you are in the early planning stages of such a project, be it direct to consumer or business-to-business sales, this book is just what the doctor ordered. Given the complexity and risks related to this kind of project, this book is an important source of information for any catalog development effort. In effect you’d be delinquent in your research if you did not read this book. You’ll get plenty out of it and its we’ll worth the price tag. If you’re new to this domain, as many readers will be, the material is comprehensive and clear enough to open new vistas and a good overall choice to educate yourself in this critical web technology.