Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 e-commerce debut in May






InfoWorld Electric

Posted at 5:19 PM PT, Apr 16, 1997


Actra's e-commerce offerings to debut in May

By Jim Balderston


A year after formation, Actra Business Systems will announce its first home-grown products -- tools for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and electronic commerce -- next month.

Actra, a joint venture between Netscape and General Electric Information Systems (GEIS), leverages Netscape's Merchant and Publishing Systems as well as GEIS' experience with EDI and virtual private networks (VPNs).

Netscape has focused its attention on the enterprise market, leaving the business-to-business and business-to-consumer electronic-commerce efforts to Actra.

Like its parent, Netscape, which announced its Crossware software strategy last month, Actra will follow a similar theme, introducing is product line under the umbrella term of CrossCommerce.

Actra's first product offerings on May 19 will include ECXpert, an EDI-enabling tool which allows legacy systems to support EDI, according to Jack Corsello, senior product manager at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Actra. OrderXpert Seller and OrderXpert Buyer also will be introduced.

All three products will be used for conducting EDI over the Internet, as opposed to existing over VPNs. Actra also took over the stewardship of Netscape's Merchant and Publishing Systems when the company was formed in May 1996. It will offer an update to both products later this year.

Version 2.0 of Publishing System is due out in the third quarter of this year, and will offer document management, replication, push delivery, as well as one-button publishing.

Publishing System 2.0 will also feature support for Java and JavaScript user interfaces, as well as site statistics analysis.

The next Merchant System release, due possibly by the end of the year, according to Corsello, will offer a number of enhancements including:

  • increased flexibility for store-front presentation;
  • customizable back-end services;
  • order status monitoring;
  • customer profile information; and
  • dynamic catalogue presentation.

The Merchant System also will support a number of customer services, including refunds, credits, and coupons, as well as order status checking and customer outreach.

Merchant System is available on a number of Unix platforms. A Windows NT version is in the works, Corsello said.

"The customers we have are running high-volume sites, and they are running them on Unix platforms," Corsello said.

Actra LLC in Sunnyvale, Calif., is at (408) 542-3200 and




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