Sunday, December 28, 2008

Database Madness at Frankly Wines

We're less than 2 weeks away from getting the Frankly Wines web site up and running. Or rather, the e-commerce version of the web site. The current site exists here - 1 snappy page of html code I taught myself while waiting for my license to come through. Not a bad place holder for a girl who hasn't done computer coding since BASIC was the language of choice.

The new site is being done by Jeff at Pixalt and it's going to be very cool. Simple, easy to navigate, lots of room for content which I can easily update myself, synchs with my in-store POS's a fully functioning e-commerce site!

And it's almost ready...the only real thing holding it up is the database coding...and the person responsible for that!

You would think this would be easy. Just type the info into the fields for producer, vintage, region, size, etc. Except my POS system doesn't have fields for all of those items, so there's a bit of jury-rigging required. But that's not the problem - there's not a small business owner around that's not well-versed in the fine art of jury-rigging.

The real problem is the database architecture for the grapes. (I did database work in a past life, so I'm entitled to throw around the phase "database architecture".) Here are some of the problems that are irking me:
  1. What do you do when you have 1 grape that goes by multiple names (syrah/shiraz, tempranillo + about 5 different aliases, grenache/grenacha)?

  2. What do you do about the vast number of wines that are traditionally blends? For example, I what's in a Bordeaux Blend, so I could just set up a category "Bordeaux Blend". But will someone looking for a Cabernet Sauvignon know that grape is one of the main grapes in a Bordeaux Blend? Similar issue with Rhone Blends and those looking for Syrah/Shiraz. Will they know that a "Rhone Blend" will probably make them happy? Wine geeks will say "duh," but most wine drinkers are not wine geeks.

  3. What do you do with the really non-traditional blends, the kitchen sink blends that give such joy to many winemakers. A category of "Gewurztraminer/Riesling/Pinot Grios/Pinot Blanc" might be the most accurate, but I don't have room for such a long descriptor. And the generic "White Blend" is just too, well, generic. I can't remember someone ever coming into the shop and saying "I'm looking for a nice white blend"...I doubt on-line shoppers would either.

So these are the things that keep me up at night. Check out the new site when it's up to see how I decided to solve these pressing conundrums....and speaking of Conundrum, how on earth would I code that one!!!


happyrobot said...

I think your issue with blends and single varietals is that your system is doing everything "one to one", right?
Ideally, you could 'tag' a bottle of wine with attributes that would allow you search for it.

so, bordeaux could be tagged with 'merlot, cabernet sauvignon, france, bordeaux, cabernet franc, right bank...'
Blah blah blah.

Christy said...

Microsoft POS don't do dat.

There are only so many fields and I've already co-opted quite a few to do things they're not supposed to do. But on the web site, we do have a search field so you can type in a producer, region, whatever, and it will pull up from that.

Fun fun fun.