Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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OPAC2.0 – Latest features update

August 12th, 2007 by Seb Chan

We’ve added a whole range of new features to our OPAC that we think further enhance its usability.

Tooltips

Each ‘feature’ on the search results and object view pages now has an explanatory tooltip. Given the OPAC has become quite complex and there is a lot going on on the screen now, we felt CSS tooltips offered a more practical solution than a ‘help’ screen or more text in the form of user documentation. More tooltips will be added this week to explain museum-centric language like ‘statement of significance’.

Failed search suggestions

Now when a search term is misspelled or return no result our system generates a series of possible ‘alternatives’. This is generated on the fly using a calculation called Levenshtein distance. This cycles through each letter of the misspelt word and then queries our table of successful searches for possible matches. These are then ranked and the top 8 variants are presented to the user. In order to make this reasonably quick we have had to rebuild quite a bit of our search technology.

Opensearch RSS with thumbnails

About two months ago our Opensearch feed was updated to include thumbnails in search results. We added the thumbnails to ensure that our feed delivered optimal results to the National Library of Australia’s Libraries Australia search. We also use this modified RSS to drive search results of Design Hub.

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