Report:DialogClassic and Classic Web/Usability
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The following section contains subjective comments about the system that represent our editor's opinions, and should not be viewed as fact. Editor's opinions include positive and negative judgments about the product written in consideration of wider context, including related products and the industry at large.
The usability of the "hit list" in Dialog leaves something to be desired. Although the addition of the PICKLIST window helps modernize it a bit, viewing a result list is still somewhat clunky and slow on Dialog Classic.
Compared to other, more modern systems, viewing full text on Dialog Classic is also rather cumbersome. When text is written to the Retrieve Buffer, it is almost completely devoid of any formatting and is not convenient for reading. Outputting the text to HTML or XML is slightly better, but having to deal with several external files stored locally can also be unwieldy.
The search history functionality on DialogClassic takes some getting used to. It is not necessarily as user friendly as the search history functions in some other systems. Ultimately, the Session Navigator aptly performs its most important function which is keeping a record of searches that have been submitted to the Dialog system. Most users will fine it convenient to have a running record of every command entered into Dialog, including search commands.
The usability factor with respect to importing and exporting data suffers a bit when compared to modern systems with graphical user interfaces. The use of the command language, while possibly fast and powerful for the experienced user, represents a high barrier for the novice or casual searcher. The ability to import and reuse pre-written searching scripts might make life easy for a user who needs to perform the same search repeatedly over a period of time.
Overall, the usability of Dialog Classic ranks below average. One must remember, however, that it was first developed in the late 1960s and therefore operates in much the same way as computing systems of that era. Like other text-based command language systems such as STN and USPTO EAST, Dialog Classic can be a powerful tool in the hands of the experienced and savvy user. Due to its steep learning curve however, it is not recommended for the novice or casual user.