PC Week Online
September 22, 1997
Actra Business Systems and Vignette Corp. are each
setting their sights on customers with heavily trafficked
Web sites that require heavy-duty software.
Actra, the joint venture of Netscape Communications
Corp. and General Electric Information Services, plans
to ship this week Publishing Xpert 2.0, the next
generation of the Netscape Publishing System.
Meanwhile, Vignette next week will release StoryServer
3, a similarly designed publishing server.
Actra's Xpert upgrade includes increased scalability
across multiple servers and new personalization
features, said officials in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Publishing Xpert 2.0 is based on a Common Object
Request Broker Architecture transaction engine. Its
front end is a set of templates that can be tailored by
information off servers.
Xpert 2.0 bundles a billing server from CyberCash Inc.
and has an offline billing engine and a set of APIs to tie
into legacy applications, officials said. Using the object
model, Actra can generate personalized views of
information and customized pages for corporate
It also has a new Java Administrator that allows content
providers to update a Web site remotely with a
Publishing Xpert 2.0, priced starting at $75,000, is
based on Actra's Commerce Xpert Architecture, which
allows the sharing of common objects with other Actra
applications. The first release will be on Solaris; a
Windows NT version will follow early next year.
In addition to Xpert 2.0, Actra will release two other
applications, SellerXpert and ECXpert for NT, within
another month, officials said.
Vignette's StoryServer 3 software, for NT and Solaris,
also is based on a component architecture and
contains added collaborative workflow capabilities,
personalized content and a feature the Austin, Texas,
company calls Adaptive Navigation.
Adaptive Navigation tailors information that is built into
objects rather than HTML pages, based on the context
of what a user has already looked at in the site.
Development licenses start at $20,000; site licenses
start at $40,000.
Chad Vawter, development director of McClatchy
Newspapers Inc.'s online Nando.net, in Raleigh, N.C.,
said StoryServer 3's new workflow capabilities will
allow newspapers in Nando.net, such as the
Sacramento (Calif.) Bee and the Raleigh News &
Observer, to have an easier time updating their own
information. Also, the component model should take
some of the load off the company's Web servers,