A2i Inc. announced the availability of a new tool for aggregating electronic product content. The xCat Import Manager features A2i’s Parametric Import technology and supports the import of product information from any electronic source in any tabular or XML format. xCat is a database-driven, cross-media catalog publishing system that centralizes and structures the management of electronic product content, simplifies the catalog production process and completely automates project workflow. xCat supports both electronic and printed output from a single data source for Web-based electronic commerce, CD-ROM-based electronic catalogs and custom paper catalogs. The major impediment to creating large catalogs has been the complexity of aggregating — and normalizing — rich electronic product content. Such content aggregation has required that source data be meticulously pre-processed into a format that can be imported, a labor-intensive and manual process that is very slow and very, very expensive. The xCat Import Manager is a GUI tool that eliminates much of this pre-processing and provides a WYSIWYG interface for cleansing, normalizing and restructuring content as part of the import process itself. Two key components of this solution are: 1) Partitioning to create or reconstitute hierarchy, to merge field values, and to establish one-to-one mappings between source and destination values and value combinations. Partitions can be nested (which creates hierarchy) or combined (which merges value combinations), and 2) Field-at-a-time rather than record-at-a-time handling of data values. This makes value mapping and exception handling much more efficient since the number of distinct values for each field is usually dramatically smaller than the total number of records to be imported, and the maximum number of exceptions is the sum, rather than the product, of the number of distinct values in each mapped field. www.a2i.com