Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 EDI Tools







April 21, 1997 (Vol. 19, Issue 16)

E-commerce and publishing


Actra to spawn EDI tools

By Jim Balderston


A joint venture of Netscape and General Electric Information Systems (GEIS) will announce on May 19 its first homegrown products: tools for electronic data interchange (EDI) and electronic commerce.

The 1-year-old Actra leverages Netscape's technology from its Merchant System and Publishing System and GEIS' experience with EDI and virtual private networks (VPNs).

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

Actra's first product offerings are ECXpert, an EDI-enabling tool that allows legacy systems to support EDI; OrderXpert Seller; and OrderXpert Buyer. All three products will be used for conducting EDI over the Internet, as opposed to existing VPNs, said Jack Corsello, senior product manager at Actra.

Actra also took over the stewardship of Netscape's Merchant System and Publishing System in May 1996 when the company was formed; it will offer an update to both products later this year.

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


The next version of Merchant System, which Actra hopes to release by the end of the year, will offer greater flexibility for storefront presentation, customizable back-end services, order-status monitoring, customer profiles, and dynamic catalog presentation.

Whether Actra can measure up on the service side of the business is yet to be seen.

"This is a very service-oriented business with a great deal of customization. They [Actra] have yet to show they can do the service side of this." said Rob Enderle, an industry analyst at Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, Calif.




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