The IUG conference started out this morning with an initial presentation by III CEO, Jerry Kline. For as much as some of III’s pratices frustrate me, I actually like Jerry quite a bit. He’s very approachable and I generally enjoy chatting with him — even when I disagree. Anyway, Jerry’s conference touched on a number of numbers and then new products that he was looking to highlight. First the numbers — Jerry discussed how III has faired in the ILS market to other vendors. I’ll actually admit to being pretty surprised here — but according to his numbers, III has done very well in the ILS market picking up a number of new customers and gaining over 70 new systems from other vendors. And while the numbers were impressive, I found it a little telling that all the numbers related to the ILS product. Personally, I think III has a great ILS. There are some things that I wish it did better (i.e., the xml server should be a part of the general product in my opinion) and I’m still disappointed to some degree by their millennium java clients since it has cost our shop some productivity due to the clunky nature of some processes — but overall, I’m fairly happy with it. Its their ancillary products that leave much to be desired. Webbridge, Metafind, etc…these products all fall short of various competitor products.
Anyway, Jerry underlined a couple of new features coming to the ILS and to Metafind. First the ILS. The ILS will have a new interface called WebPac Pro. Jerry underlined a number of pretty cool enhancements that they are making to the ILS in the form of WebPac Pro. Here are the highlighted enhancements:
- RightResults ™ — One of the things that III (and other ILS vendors) have done a terrible job at is providing relevance ranking within their ILS systems. Most vendors tend to report results in date sorts or provide pretty lousy relevancy — well — III is looking to change this. They are implementing a new sorting method call RightResults(tm) that will provide a more Google-like relevancy to their search tool. There are currently a few sites currently using this new sorting method so they work great for showing some examples of how this will work. For example, a good test case would be the Yale law school catalog and the Harvard hollis catalog. If you do a search for Harvard Law Review (as a keyword search) — the Yale law school, using III’s new ranking, shows the title first. Hollis however, I don’t see it in the first 250 results.
- Spell Checking: III will be implementing a “did you mean” feature though with a little twist. Definitely will be appreciated when this has been released.
- Adding Reviews to the OPAC — the WebPro Opac will allow users to include reviews on books. This looked very much like Amazon’s implement. Very cool.
- Research Pro: III agreed with every — Metafind stinks. They are making big changes to MetaFind — though its still quite a way behind ExLibris’s product in my opinion
The best part of all the above noted enhancements — Jerry has said that they will be free. Now that’s something that is very unIII and welcome in my opinion.
Anyway, more later.