The Difference between Article, Product and Product Type (API Terminology Explained #1)

In this blog post, I will try to clarify what the difference between article, product and product type is. The picture below visualizes the difference quite well.

Visualization of the difference between article, product and product type
Visualization of the difference between article, product and product type

A product type represents the pure t-shirt as we get it from our supplier, e.g. American Apparel. It is available in different colors (aka appearances) and sizes. A product type has also different views, i.e. front back, arm, on which are print areas. Print areas are those areas on a product type on which designs and text can be placed.

A product represents a product type with one or more designs or text on one or multiple the print areas. When a design or text is placed on a print area a configuration evolves. The price of a product is calculated using the price of the product type, the price of the used designs, and the price of the different colors used for printing.

An article represents a product that is placed in a specific shop with a fixed price tag on it. The price is the price of the product plus the commission that the shop operater added on top of that.

Using the API, article, product and product type can be retrieved using the below described URLs and have the following relationship. Let’s examine it, using article 7371156.

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First API v1 Sample Apps available at SourceForge

We created today a new project called spreadshirtapps at SourceForge. The goal is to provide sample code for different programming languages, such as Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and different application types, such as custom shops, widgets and integrations, to you in order to help you to make use of the API and to create cool, fancy and innovative applications.

You can checkout the already available code from:
svn co spreadshirtapps

Please note, that API v1 is currently under development (which means alpha) and that we will provide a first public beta next year. However, if you want to try it out and need an APIKey for example, contact us a developer(at)

Update on API v1 Development

We at Spreadshirt are currently working hard on providing a new cool and fancy REST interface that will allow you to create custom shops, widgets and integrations. We hope to provide a public beta of API v1 next year. However, you can check the current progress (which is still alpha) today, as we recently had an intermediate release. You can get an overview over the currently provided functionality by going to:

If you want to write some sample apps against API v1, use the provided wadl to generate the required glue code:

Please note, that API v1 is under development and the interface is not 100% stable yet. This means, that url patterns and xml payload might change. If you are interested and want to start your development based on API v1 contact us at developer(at)

Customized Apparel as a Service (CAaaS) at Spreadshirt

Since 2001, we at Spreadshirt are selling customized apparel over the internet to our customers. We started with allowing our partners to open shops on our platform and to sell their own merchandising articles to their customers. Later, we transformed this to offering shops for selling customized apparel in general.

For our partners, we not only hosted their shops but we also offer a lot of value-added services. We handled for example their orders, produced and delivered them on demand, provided our customer service to their customers, helped them with their legal issues, did their accounting and so on. In short, we handled pretty much everything for our partners besides designing an appealing shop and promoting the shop in the target customer group with the means that we provide to them.

Later, we further improved the customization part by allowing our customers to create their individual piece of customized apparel with our online designer, producing the piece of customized apparel on-demand within no time in our production facilities and delivering it to their home the next day. We of course also made the designer available to our partners.

We also allowed the creative ones among our customer, we call them designers, to create designs and place them on our marketplace with a price tag on it, in order to earn money in case one of our customers used this design on his piece of customized apparel. We also further improved this idea by starting design contests.

Current Challenges – Provide more Flexibility

Recently, more and more partners want to break out of the restricted means of presenting their shop with our means and hosting it. They want to present their shop with their means, promote it with their means and host it on their machines and only want to use our service for providing the required data, doing the on-demand production and delivery and doing the accounting and payment stuff. Other partners want to create their own advertisement banners, widgets (Facebook, etc.) or web application plugins (WordPress, etc.) and only need access to the required data.

Another group of partners wants to realize innovative business ideas around customized apparel like for example printing news headlines or photos on a t-shirt. These guys are basically looking for someone that provides the fulfillment as a service to them, which means everything from order processing, on-demand production, delivery, accounting and so on. They are looking for “a printer for apparel on the internet” with full service attached.

Just another group of partners wants to provide their own design marketplaces to their customers, be a shop reseller and hosting shops for their customers or copy our design contest and provide the same model to their designer community.

What they are all looking for is what we call Customized Apparel as a Service (CAaaS)
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