Well, we’ve done a ton of stuff since coming back from Boston. While in Boston at the ALA Midwinter conference, Mike and I met with about fifteen different people to get feedback on how to improve the site. Each meeting was about 45 minutes long, and the whole experience was really fantastic. We met with academic reference librarians, public librarians, electronic resources librarians, genealogy librarians, authors, content providers, folks with library services businesses that we admire, and tons more. We came away with pages and pages and pages of modifications to make.
Some of these changes are/were easy, and some will be a lot tougher. On Saturday, Mike put new code up on the site, and many of the changes are now visible there. Since we do a lot of iterative releases, we don’t use ‘release numbers,’ but if we did, all the enhanced functionality that has just gone live would definitely deserve a ‘dot version’ – like, say, from 2.1 to 2.2. And, in fact, it probably would deserve an upgrade from version 2.x to 3.0, because of the new institutional access that I’ll get to later. (That doesn’t have much front-end visibility, but it has been a huge change on the back end.)
Here are a few of the changes you’ll see:
- A “new” icon next to any item added in the last 45 days.
- Better layout on the results pages
- Better diacritics management
- Links to resources open in new windows
- More, and updated, information on the webpage, especially regarding individual subscriptions
- A completely new “librarians” tab, with information for librarians, regarding our new institutional service
In addition, he created a number of tools that will help us better identify and proactively correct data issues.
With the new importing tools, I’ve imported several new files in the last few days, and have also started to go back to improve and reimport some of the older files. There are a number of files in the freely-accessible collection that have illustrations but don’t indicate that on the results pages. I’ve already corrected a few of those, and more will be corrected soon. Those don’t count as “new” resources, and they remain freely-accessible.
The biggest deal, though, is INSTITUTIONAL ACCESS! We can now offer subscriptions via IP-authentication, for institution-wide access. Check out our librarians page for more information about this. If you’re interested in a setting up a trial for your institution, please drop us a line at sales (at) shipindex (dot) org. Or recommend us to your local librarian! We can provide access for academic, public, special, and other libraries. And, to top it off, we’re offering “plankowner” discounts for institutions that join us before June. Contact us soon for more information.
This release is a big deal all around for us, and it’ll lead to a lot more content being added (two completely new resources have already been added today, and four have been improved and updated over the past two days). Results will be easier to use, and of course institutions can now subscribe, as well.
We’ve got more improvements and enhancements in the works, so let us know about any changes you’d like to see.