A new breed of software is emerging to address the latest corporate IT disease - out-of-control Web sites. Web management tools are piling on to the market, and the latest comes from Mercury Interactive with its Astra product.
Astra claims to be the first entirely visual tool for Web site analysis, usage tracking and link testing. Webmasters can view and manage complex Web sites and detect problems such as broken links or congested paths in order to ensure that users and customers get uninterrupted service. The tool is designed for corporate Intranet applications or Web sites.
There is also an application programming interface, available to third party software houses, for developing plug-ins to Astra, or for embedding Astra into applications for resale. Customers can also create their own plug-ins for inhouse use. The API is available for Java, C++ and Visual Basic.
Other features include Web site mapping, which scans a site and displays its architecture as a single, colour-coded map. Instead of mapping Web sites into a ?tree? structure, Astra shows tham as an interconnected ?hubs and spokes? map, and managers can drill down into specific areas. Usage patterns can be displayed and any changes to the site such as deleted links can be indicated in a colour coded manner. There is also a link analyser to identify broken or inaccessible links and suggest remedies, and dynamically generated pages are also mapped.
?The job of Webmaster has become one of the most sought after and most stressful careers on the planet,? said Zohar Gilad, director of enterprise marketing at Mercury Interactive. ?Webmasters are required to deal with content, design and maintenance while achieving business goals.?
The beta version of Astra will be downloadable, free of charge, fromm this week. The full product will ship in December for Windows 95 or Windows NT, priced at $495.
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