For those who have been around Oracle for a number of years, we have seen all the applications progress from simple block forms with limited data to enhanced and informative HTML screens. One such area of enhanced functionality is centered on Items and Item Maintenance. The progression of item entry using the Inventory Master Item has been transformed to complete item/product maintenance through Product Life Cycle Management (PLM). Oracle’s Advanced Product Catalog (APC) offers features that span creation of items and life cycle management, including approval workflows, product releases, and related product attribute information. APC also provides the ability to define an unlimited number of attributes you can use to identify and classify products and item. This blog will center on the User Defined Attributes (UDA), with a review of the setups and configuration, application to item creation, and summarization of their use in item and product maintenance.
Features of APC:
- Unlimited Item Attributes
- Advanced Search
- User Defined Search and Display
- Excel-based Import
Getting There – Setup First
The APC home page provides direct access to the functionality required to setup and configure all requirements needed to use UDAs, including Attribute Groups, User Defined Attributes, Item Pages and optional validation Value Sets.
Above is a screen shot of the Developers Workbench
Value Set for UDAs
Just like value sets defined for use with Key and Descriptive Flex Fields, Value Sets can be defined for User Defined Attributes (UDAs). Value Sets can determine definitive input data for our attributes or can provide the users with a selection of inputs. Previously defined or seeded Value Sets can be used, or you can defined new Value Sets to apply to a User Defined Attribute.
When planning out your use of UDAs, Value Sets should be given immediate consideration. If the Value Set already exists, then evaluate its content for your proposed use. If you need to create a new Value Set, they are typically the first entry made in configuration process.
Navigate to the Value Sets functional window. Then 1) Query existing Values Set to use or 2) select the Create button to define a new Value Set.
Maintain Value Sets window
If you decided to create a new Value Set, navigate to the Value set window. Here you will define the name and description along with the data type, size, and any validation you may want to apply. Naming conventions are user defined, so use terms that relate to your values set and its use.
Value Set window
- Value Set Name – this the name of the value set, what the user will see is defined elsewhere
- Description – Used by the system to provide a detail description of the Value Set
- Data Type – Character, Number, and Date. You define the type of data to be input
- Maximum Size – How big is the entry field
- Validation Type – Is the data to be used independent or reliant on some other entry?
- Display Type – Popup listing or LOV style of display
Next you will enter the value to be used by the Value Set. This will be the data users will be allowed to select from when entering UDA data. You can enter as many values as you want. If the values become obsolete and you no longer want it to be displayed, return to this form and untick the display box or apply an end date. Values usage can also be time phased by making an entry into the start and end date fields.
Create Value for the Value Set window
Once you have created all your values, you can review them in the Value Set Details window. Here we have the capability to maintain all the values we assigned to our Value Set. If needed we can add more values, delete the usage of values, or change some of the attributes of the value. This is a very powerful way to control the input to our UDA if we so desire.
Value Set Details window
Attribute Groups – Logical Grouping of your UDAs
Attribute Groups provide the ability to group seeded attributes and user-defined attributes for ease of use when applying them to item and products. Use the functionality to define group names that are easily recognized by the users. Attribute Groups are available for use with any combination or configuration of item and products belonging to your available catalogs. On the Attribute Groups page you can find all the currently defined groups displayed. Use the search functionality to find a previously defined Attribute Group, or from here we can create a new one.
Navigating to the Attribute Group page will display the current groups that are presently defined. You have the ability to search for Attribute Groups and copy them to apply toward a new group. You also may define any new group here by selecting the Create button.
Attribute Groups window
The creation of a new group allows you to uniquely identify the group using a naming convention that relates to its use and makes it easy to find and maintain. It allows us the ability to control the number of columns we use and to associate it with our Business Entities. For example, do we use at the Item level or Item Org level?
- Enter a name for the group, keep simple for search capability
- Display name — what users may see
- Control the number of column to be displayed when using
- The Business Entity we use the group at
From here, we can add exiting attributes or define our own User Defined Attributes.
User Defined Attributes
It is at this stage of the Advanced Product Catalog process that you define your UDAs. Give consideration to naming conventions for ease of use. If you want to use Value Sets with your UDA, consider the Data Type selected.
Attribute Definition window
- Name of the UDA used by the system
- Display name seen by the users
- Seq of UDAs — if you have more than one this controls the sequence they are presented
- Data Type
- Column used by Oracle tables
- If you wish to index the attribute
- Optional — if a Value Set has been defined and associated with the attribute
Attribute Group and User Defined Attribute
We now have an Attribute Group with one UDA which has been assigned to the Business Entity of Item. You can have an unlimited number of UDAs, we have limited our example to just one for ease of trace.
Attribute Group Details window
Making it Work – The Catalog Category
To put our UDAs to work we need to apply our Attribute Group to a Catalog Category. We can either assign the Attribute Group to an existing catalog category, or we can create our own. For our UDA, we will create a new category that is in line with the new attribute group we previously defined. Remember to define names that are easily recognized for their functional use. Our new category will be titled Fender Guitars in line with our UAD, which specifies the number of frets on a guitar.
Item Catalog Category
Once we have decided on the Catalog Category to use you will need to complete a few setups to the catalog for the UDA to be used. The first step is to associate your UAD’s Attribute Group with the desired Item Catalog Category.
Add Attribute Group to Catalog Categories window
By adding the Attribute Group to the Catalog Category, we gain the functionality of which UDAs are used and to which Business Entity they will be applied.
Item Attribute Details window
Next we need to associate an Item Page definition, which is what the user will see when adding or applying updates to the UDAs. When you create a new item, there can be multiple item pages that need to be updated. Remember, Advanced Product Catalog provides you with an unlimited number of Item Attributes for you to define and use. Here, we’ve defined a very specific name that will be easily recognized by a user.
Edit Item Page window
You can also attach Item Templates to be used in association to the Item Catalog Category. They work the same as Inventory apps templates, which can pre-define the standard attributes used in Oracle, such as Planning, WIP, etc. You can associate more then one and, when actually creating the item, select which to use.
Add Item Templates window
Seeing Our UDAs Applied
Navigating to the Create Item functionality, you will be prompted for the Item Catalog Category to be used when generating the new items. Remember, this category contains all the Attribute Groups we assigned (some may have been system defined depending on configuration), which in turn will provide our ability to use UDAs. We also can select an Item Templates here, which we configured to provide us with input of Oracle standard attributes.
Create Item window
Next we define the item, the item description, and the long description if desired. These attributes can be system generated if the system is configured to do so. We also see some of Oracle’s Primary Attributes on this screen. These are required as part of Advanced Product Catalog functionality. They can be set up with predefined defaults.
Create Item Entry / Description window
Once the initial item has been entered, you will be presented with the Item Catalog functional window. Here we have the ability to maintain system attributes and our UDAs. The Catalog Category which has the UDAs we are demonstrating is Fender Guitar Specifications, which is displayed and listed to the left on the overview window.
Item Catalog Overview and Maintenance window
By selecting our Category of Fender Guitar Specification, we are able to enter or maintain the specific UDAs we defined for the category. In our example, for the item being entered, Stratocast – Fender USA, we have applied our UDA of Number of Frets on the guitar to state 22 Jumbo.
User Defined Attribute Applied window
Putting UDAs to Work
During Item creation, we are able to assign values to Oracle standard attributes, some which are required and some which can be defined by use of an Item Template. We also had the ability to assign values to our User Defined Attribute (UDAs) by the selection of Item Catalog Categories using the functionality of Item creation. So let’s look at how the UDAs can be put to use.
UADs as Search Criteria
Users can easily define item or product searches using the Item Catalog Categories, using the UDAs or a combination of the two. The actual users easily define search criteria without the need for developer to write code. Users can also define their own display layout. Once the search is executed, the resulting display of data is in a format of the user liking. Both functional capabilities use Oracle standard primary attributes, descriptive attributes, and all user defined attributes.
Our search below includes the UDA we defined titled Number of Frets and user defined format.
Search Criteria Selection and Definition window
Our search reveals we have seven guitars in our current catalog. Upon further inspection, we can see item duplication — numerous reasons could be the cause. For example, a different manufacturing facility making the item entry could be one. Using Advanced Product Catalog functionality can help eliminate these kind of issues.
Search Details window
By selecting specific rows, one of the functions available is to compare our items. Here we can review the attribute entries made so far real time. Using the LOV for Attribute Group, we can look at specific details. In this case, we can look at the specific UDAs that have been entered against our items.
Search Results window
By selecting the Attribute Group that defined the UDAs, we are presented with a display of only those attributes. In our example, we only had one UDA which stated the number of frets on our guitars. At first review, it appears there is a duplication on the entries for a Stratocaster guitar, with one of the entries for Mexico being incomplete. Our next step here would probably be to delete the incomplete entry for the Stratocast – Fender Mexico item. That can be accomplished numerous ways using the APC functionality — but that’s another blog!
Using Oracle Advanced Product Catalog is a user friendly, dynamic application that provides us with unlimited capabilities to create and manage items and/or products across our entire Oracle business configuration. Our example here is quite simple, but you can imagine how even complex items could be easily managed by using APC functionality. You could search by multiple attribute definitions for existing items with the ability to either copy or create a new item during your search and analysis — you don’t even need to change a responsibility or application. And with the ability for individual users to define their own search and display of retrieved data, we’ve eliminated the need for developer’s time and efforts. Managing item/product data has never been easier.