A2i Inc. announced that its xCat electronic catalog system now supports product applications. Application-based search provides yet another way to locate products within a large catalog, so that in addition to drill-down search by manufacturer, category, attributes, keyword, and other traditional criteria, a user can also search for products by their application. Applications are especially important in industries where application-driven product selection is the traditional way to locate products within a large catalog of complex product information. For example, in the automotive parts business, customers typically select parts based not on the category or manufacturer but rather on the particular year, make, model and engine type of the vehicle. There are millions of parts, tens of thousands of different vehicles, and since each part can be used in more than one vehicle, tens of millions of applications. The A2i xCat system features a data model for product applications that: (1) eliminates the duplication of both product data and application data typical of previous systems; (2) efficiently enforces validation against the table of valid applications; and (3) is more efficient for storage and searching. In addition to applications and application-based search, xCat also supports the ability to add rich product content — such as pictures, diagrams, specifications, repair information and text — not only to the parts themselves but also to the vehicles and applications. www.a2i.com