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A First Look at FDSys

The Government Printing Office released two videos demonstrating the "Proof of Concept" release of the Federal Digital System (FDSys):

Search – 3:22

Submission – 9:21

The videos require Windows Media Player to view and one of our volunteers was unable to view the videos using his Mac version of WMV. But I did get a look.

Everything below is subject to GPO’s own caveat that this "proof of concept" version will change a lot between now and the first public release in late 2008.

I was impressed with the search functionality. The search box is simple with few options, but navigation boxes on the right hand side of the screen allow one to quickly zero in on likely documents. Search results may also be sorted by title, relevance, type of resource and date issued. Individual records have links to the content, preservation metadata and more.

The only problem I had with the search was the fact the search defaults to "OR". GPO itself now understands that is a problem based on beta user input and the video narrator promised this would be fixed in the public release. I have to admit that I don’t understand how anyone in the age of Google would have made a default "OR" to begin with. But what’s important is that the problem is being fixed.

The Submission section of FDSys will not be available to the public, but is interesting to watch the demo to see what is involved with document creation. Currently the ability to add metadata does not include keywords, which is something I hope will be included in the official release. Given GPO’s move towards brief records under some circumstances, it would be very helpful to have agency generated keywords in FDSys.

There is some information in the agency submission side of FDSys that I hope carries over to either the public side or at least for FDLP librarians. FDSys requires an agency contact for every document. It would be helpful to librarians to a contact for documents in case something goes out of print or if a user had in-depth questions about the content of a given document.

Overall, this looks like a promising start. No mention of the alert features and push delivery slated for future releases, but hopefully those will be demoed soon.


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