Actinic has long been one of the major players in online commerce. The latest revamp to its range of products has seen a number of substantial changes, the most significant of which is the division of software into two lines.

The first of these, Designer, is aimed at those who wish to create sites that can be managed by clients. The second targets self-builders who will turn to Catalog and Business (reviewed here) to create and control all aspects of their e-commerce site.

The interface has been given a substantial overhaul to enable point-and-click design. The handy Business Navigator provides hints and tips at each stage.

This is not for the complete novice, who will be better off with Express, and perhaps Catalog. More experienced builders, however, will find they can access Business's huge range of features relatively easily with a little practice.

And it's these features that really make Business a boon for the online seller who wants more control and functionality. Advanced merchandising elements, such as Best Sellers, Related Products and Also Bought links, as well as the ability to create separate discount entries for groups of customers, can give your site some of the slickness of Amazon or eBay with very little effort.

Likewise, digital download support and linking to external databases have been enhanced, while email marketing is now a more significant element.

Actinic Business 8.0 beta: Specs

  • Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon PC
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 100MB disk space
  • website running Perl 5.0 or later
  • Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon PC
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 100MB disk space
  • website running Perl 5.0 or later

OUR VERDICT

Actinic Business might seem a touch expensive, particularly when taking into account the improvements made to Catalog 8.0. The quality of the beta release tested here, however, makes it clear that this will be a good buy. That it is licensed for only one site grates slightly, considering the leap in price to the Multi-Site version, but it is a sophisticated and comprehensive application.

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