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Some feedback on FDsys beta testing

About 75 people so far have volunteered to provide feedback for GPO’s new Content Management System, the Federal Digital System (FDsys) — testing is open until 1/12/09, there’s still time to volunteer by emailing pmo@gpo.gov. We want to thank GPO for the opportunity to kick the tires of FDsys. In the interest of open and public discussion of this very important development in Federal information access infrastructure, we thought we’d share our feedback. GPO has posted its FDSys release phases, and we’re happy to see many (but not all) of the enhancements/improvements listed that we suggest in our feedback.

Please see scribd where we’ve posted our feedback. We have some individual comments below.

There’s been a little chatter on govdoc-l, and while we agree with some of that feedback (faceted search for example), we want so much more from FDsys that it ultimately leaves us wanting for late 2009.

[JRJ] Sure, it works, but I want it to work *well*, not only for individual/casual users, but for those thinking about building other services (shoutout to the Open House Project!), or surreptitiously finding links to docs in search engine results for those that don’t know that fdsys exists etc. Also, it’s unclear if fdsys exposes all the content so that others (e.g. google) can index it and, if so, how (e.g. google sitemaps, OAI, html, etc…).

[RB]- While some features of FDSys Beta are truly commendable (i.e. faceted search), it is lacking many features that would make this a more robust, user-friendly, and outstanding database. For one, where is the link to “Find it in a Library”? They have a link to “Purchase Your Own Copy” at the GPO Bookstore, but there is no way to locate the document in a library? That is inexcusable, in my opinion. Also, it lacks any type of sharing capability (i.e. social bookmarking) and RSS alert features for search queries. Oh…and no API!

With that said, I realize this is Beta and perhaps these features will roll out in later versions. But we need to remind them to include these features! If no one says anything, it might never happen. There is always room for improvement. Let’s not settle for less.

[JAJ] To me, it seemed very cluttered and complex and ‘librarianish.’ much more like a proquest or lexisnexis interface than a google. there is always a trade off between ease-of-use and flexibility, but, as we have seen with the success and popularity of google, it is probably wise to have a default easy-to-use interface that works for most people most of the time and keep the bells and whistles available to those who request ‘advanced search.’ the clutter makes me think they were trying really hard to make it look up-to-date and that just reminds me of microsoft’s live.com which tries hard, but doesn’t work as well as google. we don’t need flash, we need simple functionality.

I think everyone responsible for FDsys needs a huge “thank you” for the progress that the release of FDsys represents. The WAIS system is so out of date that it is embarrassing; FDsys is designed to be OAIS compliant and that is a huge improvement for long term functionality and flexibility. That said, it still has a long way to go to even begin to match the functionality of current day web apps. Enhancements are coming throughout 2009 and we’re excited about this first step for a child that will grow to adulthood quickly.

FDsys beta feedback – Jacobs

FDSys Beta Feedback Form

FDsys Feedback Cornwall

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