Autumn is upon us, with dark mornings and nights and thoughts of Christmas not far away. Welcome to our latest update.
Whether you are new to Soutron or have been with us for some time we are grateful for your support and we have much to deliver before the end of the year. Unusually we have seen a few retirements among our clients this year, people who have contributed to our software development. We will miss their contributions and help and wish them the very best for the future.
Remote Working and Support
Despite the various restrictions placed upon us due to Covid we have continued to work but from our homes rather than the office, providing support to requests for assistance. The Help Desk is now a virtual place, spread across the different locations where we live, with very different backdrops when on our Zoom video calls. There seems to be fewer actual phone calls, instead they are being replaced with emails but more often by Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and WebEx calls. So, a whole new way of working is being thrust upon us. I, personally, miss the interaction with colleagues and the chance to pick up on information that being in close proximity brings which is often not shared when isolated at home. I think our pets and cats and dogs however like the idea of us being around more.
Support is the most important task we undertake. It puts us in direct contact and often introduces us to ideas we would not otherwise explore. While helping to solve a problem or reminding someone how to use a function, we get a better understanding of what is needed in future releases. I enjoy being involved in Help Desk calls. Given that for much of this year we have been excluded from travelling to libraries and archives and meeting people in person it is a chance to learn and interact with people. We should perhaps rename Graham Partridge’s Twitter account, as the “At Home” Librarian instead of the Travelling Librarian!
Producing a new release of the software is an intensive activity. It demands more and more time to test and document, given how extensive the Soutron application is today, but it is one of our most enjoyable areas of work. As well as repairing and removing bugs, we are in the midst of re-writing every part of the application so that it provides greater performance and is easier to use. This is very exciting as it gives us the opportunity to re-think how to approach a workflow or function, all with the aim of making life easier.
Our Latest Software Update
The next release (version 4.1.5) is already in the hands of some of our clients who are gracious and energetic enough to take an early copy of the system and feedback comments. This is enormously helpful to us and we are extremely grateful to those individuals and organisations who perform this task. I am reliably informed that we are getting nearer to the announcement of release with some 400 plus enhancements, changes, fixes and features being introduced. It is our largest release for some time. It sees some fundamental changes to the System Management function, making it much simpler and more efficient. This new release paves the way for how we approach cataloguing. The ideas presented at the User Group meeting in 2019 for data capture are starting to be realised. You will see a new End User Submission form, a new way to enter data, which lays the foundation to deliver new ideas for cataloguing in the following release.
We have also been having conversations with clients about the need to make the thesaurus management function more streamlined, easier to use and more efficient to make changes and build taxonomies. This goes hand in hand with the changes needed in the data entry form and we are developing ideas and preparing new form layouts and functionality to enhance that which is already there.
Expect to hear a formal announcement about the release and exactly what it contains in November. For some it may be sensible to apply it in the New Year while others may be keen to apply it this side of Christmas. Bear in mind, this release will require some planning and more effort on our part to apply it because of new technologies being introduced into the Search Portal.
Graham Beastall – Senior Consultant and Managing Director. Graham’s background is in Accountancy, Public Administration, Organizational Theory and Library Technologies with a deep technical understanding of databases and web technologies. More posts by Graham.
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