Jan 272015

DigiKey - Character Limit ExceededIn order to play with electronics, one has to get some sweet parts. Ever since I moved to States my supplier was DigiKey. They have good part selection, decent prices, and while their interface is not really the newest thing out there, it is good enough. Yes, I do occasionally have an issue or two but when my orders arrive, everything is in perfect order. Usually.

Since I always have multiple projects in parallel, I got into habit of using Customer Reference field to the fullest. I always fill not only my name for the component but also project name (e.g. C 10nF /16V NP0 (0805) [Esp8266Plug A1452]). That way I can easily sort stuff when it arrives and this has worked for me for long time. But with latest order I got a few packages where Customer Reference text was Character Limit Exceeded and my component sorting got interesting.

It was obvious what happened. One of many components that deals with data entry and printing labels didn’t like the field length. Not ideal situation but nothing uncommon either. However, decision of handling this situation is really bad.

First of all, line has enough space for at least 72 characters. Why would you put software limit to 48? My best guess is that limit was decided some time long ago for completely different kind of label. They switched labels and simply forgot to update the length. Or there might be some legacy component in the middle that can handle only 48 characters. I think that would be also a good reason for limiting length so low. Most realistic reason is that somebody simply copy/pasted the same limit as defined for Description field. I can completely understand how that could happen.

But there is NO EXCUSE in deciding to drop the whole customer’s text and replace it with your own. Your system has limitations, and you obviously had them in mind during design. Perfect A in my opinion. But why wouldn’t you just WARN me when I enter that reference in the first place? There is data verification done on that page for the other fields. Why is this field so special that no verification can be performed?

And, if you really have to do anything, don’t replace MY text – trim it. What would help customer better: Character Limit Exceeded or Q MOSFET, P-channel (SOT23-3) [ElectroPiggy A...? I am not sure what was going through the head of person who made that particular decision but they definitely didn’t think of customer.

I guess my script for ordering the parts will get another update…

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