There should be a way to convert a Order to a BOM

There are a few cart/Bom Management changes that would make ordering quicker and Easier on the Digikey Site.I assumed these feature would be in place, but I can’t find them. So if I get into something that exists on the site, then the problem bcomes one of access or marketing of that feature.
Here we go:

  1. Being able to name an order - after I make the order. All I have now is an opaque order and sales number and the date of the order. I have no idea what is in the order until I click into it. Why am I doing this? because I am about to start a new order that contains something that was in a previous order and it’ll b quicker if I look there first. Speaking of that, there is
  2. Convert an order into a new Cart, and Convert an order or Cart into a BOM. After the copy of the items into one or the other of these containers, I would want to easily edit the items, their ‘customer references’ i.e. schematic designators, and the number of items. I am assuming I can name this new entity as well.
  3. Order X Products. That is take the BOM I am currently looking at and order enough parts to make 10 of these. I am pretty sure I have seen this- but it is not an obvious function. Frankly, I would have this button right in the ‘toolbar’ at the top and at the bottom of the screen. Better, have tools like this available in a floating windows so they are always easy to find
  4. Find Mates - finding the header for a plug, or the female insert for a plug housing, and vice versa is something that every engineer is doing. Why is it so hard? Well it is more of a time sink than being hard to do. I’m sure that seasoned engineers just stick to the same connector they’ve always used exactly because it is so tedious and time-expensive to change it. But for newbies like me every design is new and I don’t have a drawer full of known good combinations.

What I mean is I have product X, its a header I want to put on my board. Rather, its a rectangular special connector that has 4 positions in 2 rows. Now while I’m adding it to the cart, I would want to be able to order the same amount of plugs and inserts for those plugs (if needed) as part of that action. Should be simple enough (I’m thinking)…The button for that must be right here… let me look…

But no - what I have to do is embark on a research endeavor starting with the data sheet of the header and most of the time, the mate is not in that document, or it is hinted because there is a series to which the connector belongs.

Fine - so now I look up the series, and there are a ton of related parts and all I want is the one plug that fits the connector I Just picked. By now I’m 20-25 minutes into this and I still don’t’ have an answer.

After 40 minutes I have that answer, Yay! But wait, there is more. I have to figure out what inserts I have to put into the housing and whether I have the tool to crimp it - oh and don’t forget you need wire of a certain gauge for this or it will not work.

OK, so I got that one done. On to the next connector and another hour of work! Doh! Frankly it is as hard to find and order these mating parts as it is to use Eagle to find parts to put on a schematic - which is no picnic. In both cases, the creative part of designing a circuit and then making it a reality becomes mired in the process of finding the right parts and their mates. A process that takes easily 5 times longer than designing the circuit in the first place. Maybe other engineers have someone else do this job, I know it drains my soul every time.

And yes, I do get that there are literally millions of unique parts in Digikey’s inventory and that there are probably a million parts just in the “rectangular connectors” area and that to do the type of automatic mate-finding that I describe is a big deal and would be difficult/impossible for Digikey to do by itself. The obvious answer is to provide an API to the manufacturers that allows them to deliver the mating information in a standard format that would enable Digikey’s website to present the connector mates, inserts and wires. They are also responsible to update these product associations. This leaves Digikey with the one-time job of defining the API to hook into their site. Manufacturers either use it or not and the ones that do will make more money.

As a side note: For a newbie, even knowing that there is such a thing as an insert and that you must find and order them is a piece of information that should be more prominent. Maybe that’s up to the manufacturer to do better, but it is in Digikey’s interest to make the whole ordering process easier and a lot quicker. I personally ended up with housings with no inserts being delivered. It was only when I got them that I realized that there had to be something more to get.

I do hope that my newbie experience is not what a lot of people go through. I had no mentor or guide to show the way, so it was the school of hard knocks. Maybe my experience is unique and all these suggestions are moot. But if not… what do people think about the stuff at the top of this item that turned into a half-rant and incredibly long screed.??


These suggestions will be passed to the appropriate development group and taken under advisement. Meanwhile, taking some time to explore the new unified list functionality (MyLists) may reveal that much of the desired functionality is in fact achievable; perhaps not quite in a form that you’d find intuitive or convenient, but achievable nonetheless.

I’ll point out the tagging and download features of the unified list tool; these can be used in conjunction with upload functionality to clone bodies of information for editing, and to assign familiar names to such. No doubt, salesorder numbers and the like are largely opaque to folks on your side of the screen. They unlock a great deal of info on this side though, and for purposes of getting Stuff to folks and getting Issues resolved, such unique identifiers are profoundly helpful.

That’s available. Even has an option to order extras so things don’t get hung up just because somebody dropped a 1/2 cent resistor. As for floating windows, that’s a rather subjective issue; some folks enjoy listening to others chew, others bristle the instant somebody three tables down snaps a carrot. Floating windows aren’t much different in terms of the dichotomy of response elicited.

Many product pages, such as that for the 0533980471, indicate Mating Products a way down the page. While not comprehensive, these listings are an effort to address the issue.

Such an approach might seem reasonable on its surface, but the unfortunate reality of the matter is that getting a large number of diverse sources to supply and maintain information in a consistent, orderly, normalized fashion is a task akin to herding feral cats that are on fire. Many connector manufacturers don’t do the greatest job of surfacing such information on their own behalf, so asking for an investment to benefit an outside entity is a rather tall order.

Note also the presence of Associated Product listings on product pages, e.g. that for the 4320-01069-0. Again, such listings are not comprehensive due to the burden of maintaining a suitable degree of curation, but they are an effort to be helpful. Similar “Related Products” and “You May Also Be Interested In” listings are less tightly curated and more algorithmic in nature; while they’re meant to be helpful, IMHO there’s room for improvement.

Few skills are ever acquired without pain of learning. The frustration of having The Mundane Details get in the way of realizing one’s big picture idea is real. I suspect the effect has become amplified in recent years, as people have grown acclimated to the remarkable level of convenience afforded by modern technology. That phenomenon probably extends well past the electronics realm, but such discussion might better be better reserved for a setting where beverages are shared.

Things do get easier with practice, though entanglement with the physical world and the complexities that humanity layers atop the challenges posed by nature is an intractable feature of hardware work. The phenomenon of folks getting dropped into such roles without decent mentoring is perhaps a function of the relative cost of failure, and the degree to which a lot of the underlying complexity is underappreciated. Nobody asks their plumber friend to replace their leaky heart valve, 'cuz the cost of failure is high, and small details in such a process have a way of making themselves known in a big way. The stakes aren’t quite the same in electronics work…

Perhaps, someday, we’ll get to the point of making Obvious Information more easily accessible. In the meantime, mergers, obsolescence, the sheer volume of the task, and differing ideas and interests on how best to do it get in the way. It wasn’t all that long ago that printed media was still the principle vehicle for transmitting information on things pertinent to the electronic component industry. As late as the 2005-'10 time frame, the importance of having a website was a question that was posed to me by a rep from a major semiconductor manufacturer. That question seems ludicrous now, but it wasn’t so much so then.

I could carry on with my reciprocal rantscreed, but the internet has enough of that as it is… Suffice it to say that there are folks on this end that feel your pain, that want to fix it, and engage in heated discussions about what’s Most Important To Do Next.

Thank you sincerely for your business, and for your suggestions. We ‘aint perfect, but we endeavor to serve others well. If you’re new to the hardware game, the resources linked under the ebooks section of this page might prove helpful in some manner. Even the flippin’ two-terminal components come with hidden asterisks…