Macromedia will announce a special version of its Contribute web publishing desktop application designed to automate and simplify the creation and modification of eBay Stores.
Developed by WebAssist.com, a creator of extensions for Macromedia products, Contribute 3 for eBay is designed to let eBay Store owners create, update and customise their stores' content and design through a visual editing interface designed for non-technical users, said Erik Larson, director of product management at Macromedia.
At eBay Stores, eBay users can feature in an online storefront the products they have for sale at the giant auction site.
WebAssist.com used the eBay API (application programming interface) to create this special version of Contribute. The eBay API lets developers link applications directly with the eBay database through XML. With the eBay API, developers can create eBay applications that feature a custom interface, special functions and operations beyond the regular eBay interface.
Contribute 3 for eBay requires no programming skills and leads users through step-by-step wizards for designing an eBay Store's logos, images, product categories and product search, among other things. The product features about 800 templates for eBay Store pages.
Ken Mullinax, who runs two eBay Stores has been beta-testing the product and finds that it lets him perform certain web publishing tasks more quickly and to do things he did not know how to do manually, such as featuring dynamically changing information regarding the status of active bids.
"It's very useful, especially for people who don't really know anything about making web pages or about HTML," he said.
How useful this product is will be determined by the effect it has on sales. After testing the product for several weeks, Mullinax said it is too early to know.
"That's really the bottom line: being able to sell more because of the features in this software," said Mullinax, whose both stores specialise in leather goods.
An analyst sees the product fulfilling a need for a tool to help eBay Store owners improve the look of their stores.
"This has the potential to be a fairly significant product, because one of the central issues for the eBay Store [owners] is a strong interest in selling products online but a lack of awareness about how web page design actually works," said Eric Peterson, a Jupiter Research analyst.
"What you end up with is lots of things to buy and sell, but poorly presented in the web pages. The average eBay seller would benefit dramatically from the Contribute product."
Contribute 3 for eBay is slated to ship in mid-November. It will cost $99 (£54) for eBay Store owners and will be available at the Macromedia Online store. It will also be available as a free upgrade for existing Contribute 3 customers as a download from the WebAssist website.
WebAssist is developing a similar eBay extension to Macromedia's Dreamweaver, an application for building sophisticated websites and online applications. That Dreamweaver extension will be available also in mid-November, directly from WebAssist, for less than $200.
Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service