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In November 2010 we previewed the incoming PatBase update by looking at some of its new features and designs–for good or for ill. I have been using the final version of the update for the Minesoft and RWS Group created patent search system, and as promised, I’ve got an revised opinion on all the changes. Building a new version of the platform from the ground up has given PatBase the chance to add features while remaining fast and easy to use. Today we’ll look at how these features impact the user experience.
Are you using PatBase? Come tell us about your experience. Even if you’re not, I think you’ll find the conversation lively and interesting as you compare it to your favorite search system!
The final list of December 2010 Updates for PatBase can be found here (PDF). In our previous report we covered several notable new features. Since the testing period is over and the change are now fully incorporated into the product, let’s revisit those features to see if anything has changed:
A prominent part of the new interface is a redesigned home (or landing) page that users see upon logging in. At this point users can directly access help and tutorial features (including training videos or signing up for a live webinar) or access their saved searches, histories, folders, alerts and more…Some may prefer this look and others may wish for the more minimal presentation of the old PatBase interface, but PatBase developers have made this design with speed and access of information in mind. My early impressions of the interface is that there have been some trade-offs made between maximizing space for content and patent text (as was stressed in the old interface with less space used for UI at the top and bottom and what seemed like smaller text)
This new look remains and is one of the most immediately recognizable updates to the system. While it has taken a while to get used to the placing of all the interface elements, I’ve grown to appreciate the new look because PatBase has fixed one of the major flaws that existed during the testing period: the size of the interface. Although still not as spartan as the previous user interface (notably at the bottom, which takes up additional space to accommodate the company logos), the interface no longer suffers from the bloated text problems of the testing period interface. This appears to have been solved by correctly implementing web browser text size preferences. For users who have their text sizes relatively small in order to pack more information on the screen (or in my case two screens), this is a massive relief.
One very welcome change for patent searching nerds like myself is the improvement of advanced highlighting…This hit analysis section has been refined to include a quick look table so that the user can see which family member may be most relevant without having to scroll through all of the members and make notes to his or herself. Another welcome change to advanced highlighting is the inclusion of proximity operators.
The improved highlighting continues to be one of my favorite parts of the update. Although initially buggy (requests to the PatBase staff to look into the inconsistency of this feature were addressed promptly), the advanced highlight features now work correctly. The condensed hit report has been more useful than I thought at first blush and is my new go-to tool when opening up the full text of a patent family. It allows me to quickly assess which patent document is most likely to be the one that caused the family to appear in the results list, an occasional downside to using large patent families like PatBase employs.
The Optimise tool is a faceted search (or filtered search) feature accessible directly from the search history/hit result page. Similar to the Search Optimiser function of previous versions of PatBase Express, this feature allows users to quickly use statistical analysis to “drill down” into search results in the categories of top companies, technologies, dates, and countries.
This feature is one I don’t use a lot, but I can mostly attribute that to my searching style, since it appears to work well for those who prefer the faceted/filtered style of revising search queries. In any case, it’s good to see the PatBase staff continuing the trend of bringing over popular features from other parts of the PatBase family (PatBase Express, in this case). Along the same lines, I like the continued development of the tools within the product itself (such as allowing multi-language search within the command line).
Do you like the new PatBase? Have there been recent changes to your favorite patent search system? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!
This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.