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Actra, Vignette systems based on component architecture

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 users. The software uses JavaScript to deliver 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 customers.

It also has a new Java Administrator that allows content providers to update a Web site remotely with a browser.

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, in Raleigh, N.C., said StoryServer 3's new workflow capabilities will allow newspapers in, 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, Vawter said.

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