Thursday, June 28, 2007

Metasearching @ ALA

Well, I´m back from the ALA conference in Washington, and there seems to be some progress to metasearch products; nothing revolutionary, but the interfaces are getting more attention oriented towards letting the users find what they need.

These improvements are mainly related to faceting and clustering. If you thought both were the same thing, look at the earlier post.

Webfeat seems to be, setup-wise, the simplest of all. The pricing is fixed for a hosted 50-database setup, $85 for each extra database, has its own proxy and interacts with almost anything out there. They can facet by date, author, database (or "resource" as some call it). And they are doing some sort of clustering using propietary technology. It seems to have something to do with NLM subjects, however I am not sure of this. Webfeat is out now. It also has consortium support.

Facets in MetalibMetaLib by Ex-Libris seems to be getting better; they are also doing more types of facets, and just incorporated Vivisimo clustering to cluster results by subject. Metalib is also taking advantage of their knowledgebase of periodicals (part of SFX) so that if the metasearch result isn't actually fulltext, you can get a link to the full document if your institution subscribes to it on another database. MetaLib prices by FTE and has consortia support.

Serials Solutions was also demoing 360 Search, an update to their product previously called Central Search. They are also doing Vivisimo clustering, faceting, and are also taking advantage of their periodicals title and holdings database to link users to fulltext like Metalib; however, it seemd they went a step further and if there was no direct link to an article (like from within Lexis/Nexis Academic Universe) it would at least offer the user a link to the publication. They do not offer consortia support, however you can (for now) talk to them to set up several instances of the product.

TDNet's eContent Searcher Analyzer was also being demoed, and had similar capabilites. I, however, think that although they seem to have some great technology (the clustering algorithm worked even with spanish language results) they have a somewhat confusing interface, and seemed to be unsure about adding non-supported databases. This product also integrates with the company's own serials coverage product. They also have consortia support.

Innovative was, I think, the only one not actually doing any clustering or faceting! (Well, they do "facet" by resource type, however it is the only possible facet they are supporting.) Their product is the new Research Pro, which is set to replace their current Metafind solution. Research Pro is set to ship around fall 2007 to libraries running release 2007. Research Pro does not seem to be, at present, taking advantage of their own CASE serials coverage product. I forgot to ask about consortium support!

I didn't get the chance to talk to other notable vendors to see their products: IndexData with their Masterkey (which is derived from the open source project pazpar2); also veteran MuseGlobal with their Muse Search product.

Now, are these guys still in business? Fretwell-Downing/OCLC and Zportal, and Endeavor's ENCompass?


pcalarco said...

Since Endeavor merged into Ex Libris, EnCompass customers are being supported until 2008, at which time the migration path is to move to MetaLib. No new releases of EnCompass.

jbnye said...

ZPORTAL is still very much alive -- and has always supported consortia. As you noted, Fretwell-Downing was acquired by OCLC PICA. Look for us at the OCLC booth next ALA.

Jano said...

jbyne: I questioned whether ZPortal was "alive" because the page I found has the title "Under construction". Might wanna fix that :) Thanks for commenting!

Michael said...

There's were even more of them there. Infor (formerly Geac) was demoing a new metasearch product at ALA as well. See their info sheets here.