Friday, July 10, 2015

Fastcase 7: New Features, Faster Research, New Displays and Interactivity-- 10 Things I really like about Fastcase 7

Fastcase 7 Launch Screen

Today Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase provided me with a preview of Fastcase 7. The overall design of Fastcase 7 is geared toward exposing all of the Fastcase tools for discovery, analysis,  display and delivery. As illustrated in the screenshots below. Fastcase 7  packs a lot of design variety into a single screen. One of my early posts on  Fastcase “classic”  described it as a platform that allows lawyers to “think outside the list.” Fastcase 7 is a platform which invites lawyers into deep interaction with the content. Each screen has an amazing variety of visually distinct displays which invite a researcher to explore their search results in different ways.  

According to Walters this is the first major redesign since 2003.  Ed Walter feels confident that Fastcase 7 will successfully compete toe to toe with Westlaw Next, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law. I would be interested in seeing a comparative test executed by and independent third party. 

The New Launch Page uses colorful block displays and exposes your recent searches, print queue and alerts. One box is devoted to "help." Searches can be executed in the search box at the top of the launch screen. 
Fastcase 7 Results screen

1. Exposing the Wow Feature. For the first time, the original “wow” feature – the interactive timeline” automatically displays. I completely agree with this move. The” interactive timeline” is so unique, no one looks for something they don’t know exist. 

2  The New Wow Feature – The Semantic Cloud. I can’t think of any other legal research platform that displays a word cloud. According to Walters, it is a sematic cloud, which displays concepts even if the exact term is not used in the case, the case can be retrieved in the list retrieved by clicking on the concept. 

3. Forecite – Fastcase’s algorithm identifies relevant cases which are not retrieved by your search terms. Forecite results will now display automatically in the side column. 

4. Beyond Borders. Fastcase can now search across multiple jurisdictions and multiple material types, (cases, AG opinions, HeinOnline law reviews). Jurisdictions can be selected from “picklists” or deselected on the fly. 

5. Authority Check. Cite checking results will display on screen without opening a new window. Results will automatically display  relevant interactive timeline and the” Bad Law Bot” results. Bad Law Bot which highlights cases with a negative history  – Has an new icon.  

6. Bottomless Pages. Never page forward again! I am an incredibly impatient person. I despise waiting for the next page of search results to load and display. In Fastcase 7 the entire results list displays automatically, you never have to page forward and wait for results to load. 

7. Aesthetic improvements. Like Steve jobs, Ed Walters is a self proclaimed type-font nerd. Fastcase 7 uses the Kepler font which  he believes is the optimal font for  reading text on a computer. Ed showed me a side by side comparison of the page on Fastcase classic and Fastcase 7 …. And I agree Kepler offers a dramatic improvement. 

8.Search History – Now Includes date of search and jurisdictions searched. 

9.Send Feedback Button. Users can easily send feedback from their search page. This is a feature which I am seeing on an increasing number of research platforms. It makes complete sense to “crowd source”  ideas for development or quickly identify performance problems using real time user feedback rather than waiting for a costly “ focus group.” 

10. Printing and delivery of results. One of the most common complains I hear about research platforms from research experts is they don’t offer researchers the ability to  have a variety of options for printing an delivery. Fastcase offers great flexibility and will allow searchers to deliver results in a zip file either as individual documents or as a single pdf  containing multiple documents.  

Fastcase 7 Case Display
When Can You Try It? Fastcase 7 will be in beta for the next year. Over the next few months current subscribers will be invited to get a special password which unlocks Fastcase 7 when they login to the classic Fastcase platform. 

See It At AALL.  Fastcase will also be providing demos to attendees of the American Association of Law Libraries Conference in Philadelphia July 18th 20th. They will no doubt get lots of feedback from that audience of super-searchers!

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