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Author's profile photo Mark Foley

Images in Product Catalogs. Why and How?

Why put Pictures in the Product catalog?

The ability to sell your products to a wider market is one of the key resason that the E-Commerce B2B or B2C shops have been implemented. The key attributes of these shops is that they bring your products to a wider market . That been said it is important that when user are viewing your shop that they are drawn to the products .One of the easiest methods to attract customers to your product is through product images. This simple feaure can turn a dull product catalog into a vibrant selling tool. The well known term “A picture paints a thousand words” is never more in this instance.

When you have decided on the images that you wish to display in the webshop and added these to the product master data or to the catalog areas you then need to ensure that the configuration has been complete to allow publication of the images and the display of the images in the webshop.

How do we add images?

The process in which the images are replicated to the webshop is know as Publication . Sometimes this can become confused with the “Product catalog Replication” that is infact the indexing of the product catalog to TREX. For the publication process does not involve TREX at all. There are two process that take place during the product catlog replication.

1. Replication of the product catalog.

If you select the replication without the publishing computer ID this will replication the product catalog the index will be created on TREX. This will not publish any images to the webshop. 

2. Publication of catalog content.

This is the transfer of the  catalog content (mostly  images) to the webserver to have these available in the webshop.

So in fact if no images are required the replication process can work without a webserver but to have the images and documents available this will require a standalone webserver such as ISS, You may be famiilar with TREX and the fact that it comes with its own IIS but it must be noted thatthis can not be used for the publication of images,  a standalone webserver is require. More information on this can be found in SAP note 1486361.

So the replication process can work without a standalone webserver but to have the images and documents available this will require a standalone webserver such as ISS, many customers are using ISS but also apache is possible. It must be noted that a standalone webserver is require as replication to the ISS of TREX is not supported. This is outlines in SAP note 1486361  (

For the configuration steps please see the SAP note 544843  ( that outlines the steps required for IIS. This is an old not but the steps are still needed.

Why does the publication not work?

Publication problems are usually caused by incorrect authorization, FTP/HTTP or the setup or directory creation errors resulting from problems with the configuration.

Verify that the following has been done (basic IIS or apache configuration)

    • a HTTP directory has been defined in CRM customizing. This is done in SPRO -> Customer Relationship Managment -> Master Data -> Product Catalog -> Set Targets for Publishing Catalog Contents 

0.1. a HTTP virtual directory has been defined in IIS. This virtual directory points to a valid OS level directory. If no HTTP virtual directory has been defined, the default web site directory will be used. 

0.1. a FTP directory has been defined in CRM customizing. This is done in SPRO -> Customer Relationship Managment -> Master Data -> Product Catalog -> Set Targets for Publishing Catalog Content

0.1. A virtual FTP directory has been defined in IIS under the FTP root directory. The Home Directory Local path must point to the SAME OS directory as the IIS HTTP root directory. The CRM system uses the FTP connection to this directory to create subfolders (00-FF), into which the images attached to the catalog areas and items will later be published using HTTP.

0.1. The FTP user used by the CRM system must have authorization to create directories, the FTP user and the (anonymous) HTTP user require read/write access for the HTTP directory and subdirectories both from the web server#s perspective and from the underlying operating system perspective. 

0.1. In Microsoft Management Console, check that the properties of the virtual FTP (HTTP) directory and subdirectories allow write access for the FTP user or FTP user group, and for anonymous HTTP users, respectively 

0.1. In Explorer, check that the FTP user or group has read/write/modify authority for the directory by right licking -> Properties -> Security. Check the same for the operating system user used for anonymous HTTP requests.

0.1. RFC connections SAPFTPA and SAPHTTPA have been set up in SM59. The SAPFTPA connection is used in customizing (transaction SPRO) for the ‘Set Targets for Publishing Catalog Contents’

If the publication of the Product catalog content fails in order to analyse the problem it is important to understand the process.

How does this technically work?</p><p>If a publishing target is provided in the selection screen of the initial replication (WebUI or SAPGUI), Firstly and check is performed that the FTP RFC connection is working . Then a Subdirextory will be created in the host based on the customizing that has been maintained in SPRO and creates the subdirectories on the host from the according SPRO customizing for “Set Targets for Publishing Catalog Content”.</p><p> </p><p>For example you may have the settings as below.</p><p>!|height=300|alt=|width=400|src=|border=vertical-align: middle; border: 50px solid black; margin: 50px;! </p><p> </p><p>Then during the Publication process the report will check all documents that are assigned to the catalog areas. Please note that the only documents that are considered are those that assigned to template folder. This can be checked in the SPRO settings for the catalog type. These must also have either the language of the indexed catalog variant or are language independent.</p><p>Now for the fun parts, during the indexing of the catalog content to TREX, for each document there will be an index attribute created according to the folder.</p><p> </p><p>For example, if you assign a picture to the folder CRM_THUMB (thumbnail), an index attribute *doc_pc_crm_thumb *with the value /<virtual_folder>/4D/4DE5E9A2E2B21DFBE10000000A42181E.jpg is created.</p><p>Now explain where this information comes from.</p><p> </p><ol><li>The virtual folder is taken from the HTTP settings of the SPRO publishing target. </li><li>The “4D” is the subdirectory which was created by FTP .</li><li>The image name is from the  GUID of the Business Document Service, where the document was originally stored in the CRM system.</li></ol><p> </p><p>At this point the content  are physically transferred to the web server (the hostname) either by FTP or HTTP according to the setting in the selection screen of the initial indexing. </p><p> </p><p>When you open a catalog in the B2B shop for example, and an image server is maintained in the XCM, then the values of the index attribute and the data of the image sever are concatenated by the catalog API Image server (from XCM):  From TREX (index attribute).</p><p> </p><p>To find the image server location you need to login to the XCM and go to => Application Configurations => Select your XCM scenario name => Component name = webcatalog</p><p> </p><p>The image server location in the XCM can be configured as per below</p><p>!|height=331|alt=|width=532|src=|border=border: 50px solid black; margin: 50px;!</body>

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