Text of letter to ITS and ITS.MARC users

December 29, 2005

Dear ITSforWindowsTM Customer:

In recent years, TLC has been working on a series of generational enhancements to its suite of cataloging products. The first fruit of this effort will be the release in July 2006 of BiblioFile®, which will replace ITS.forWindows.

I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the exciting features that will be included in BiblioFile, and also some news that could affect your planning.

First, this is a free upgrade. We hope to migrate all ITS.forWindows users to the new software on or shortly after the July release date. ITS.forWindows itself will continue to be supported until December 31, 2006.

BiblioFile incorporates many exciting new features, including full support for ISBN-13 and Unicode, significant enhancement to the search and result set dialogs, and a built-in browser component. The complete list of new features is detailed in the attachment to this letter.

The attachment describes important hardware requirements for BiblioFile, so be sure to confirm that your library will be ready for the change. BiblioFile will require a Windows® XP or later operating system. DVDs will replace CD-ROMs.

Note also that some features currently supported in ITS.forWindows will not be included in the initial release of BiblioFile. This is being done so that the core set of features can be made available as soon as possible, in order to more quickly gain valuable feedback from beta sites. Please review the list of these deferred features and let us know if any of them will severely hamper your cataloging efforts.

Finally, I would like to invite the adventuresome souls in our ITS community to beta test BiblioFile® in May 2006. Please don't sign up just to get an early glimpse of the new features. We are looking for serious testers who can take the time to work with the new product outside their normal production stream.

For more information contact TLC Support. In the coming months, please also keep an eye on our website for additional news.

Thank you for your loyal membership in the ITS.forWindows family. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the new BiblioFile!

Best regards,

Doug Storer

Product Manager


Feature summary – BiblioFile Version 1.0

  1. Full support for the new 13-digit ISBN format. The current version of ITS.forWindows stores ISBNs as found, but indexes them in a 10-digit format. After January, 1, 2007, when publishers start using the new 979 ISBN prefixes, this will no longer be possible.
  2. DVD data distribution. CD-ROM distribution of MARC records will be discontinued. Use of the higher density DVD format will enable us to put more data on a single disc, and in some cases, include more records. Most, if not all, disc readers delivered with new PCs can read both CD and DVD formats.

DVDs will not be directly searchable as CD-ROM discs now are. Instead, physical media users will copy DVD contents to a hard drive or server. Most CD-ROM users are already doing this, but the process will be more automatic in BiblioFile, eliminating the need to attach RAM tables.

The indexes supplied with the new DVD databases support significant search enhancements (described in the next paragraph). These indexes are much larger than those now supplied on CD-ROM, requiring additional hard disk capacity. If you now use CD-ROM databases, be sure to read section below on hardware and operating system considerations.

  1. Search enhancements. A series of improvements will be evident in the search dialog:
    • Keyword and phrase searches will be possible against the Active file and DVD databases.
    • Begins-with searching will be available for Z39.50 searches of ITS.MARC. (Begins-with searches were always possible via Z39.50 for servers that supported this mode, and were always possible in ITS.MARC when searched via web browser.)
    • A Find Anywhere feature will be available for Active file searches. Such searches will search title, author, subject, and notes fields. They will not include any numeric fields (including call number, which often is not actually a "number").
  1. Print configuration. The user interface for label print configuration will be improved and more streamlined.
  2. Integrated utilities. All program features will be accessible from within the cataloging program. Macros, Z39.50 profiles, label configurations, the template editor, and batch utilities – all will be accessible from menus in BiblioFile. Changes will take effect immediately, without the need to restart Cataloging.
  3. Upgraded Z39.50 Profile Editor. The new dialog displays attribute numbers as well as names. It also includes pre-configured US National Profile support for ITS.MARC and other Z39.50 servers.
  4. Browser component. Catalogers will be able to visit web sites from within Cataloging.
  5. Boolean search options. The standard search dialog will permit up to three Boolean search arguments for searches against the Active file and supporting Z39.50 servers. This feature supersedes the current Title/Author and Author/Title search options.
  6. Unicode support. BiblioFile supports UTF-8 (Unicode) encoding via Leader byte 9, and dynamically transforms characters from MARC-8 to Unicode or vice-versa, for all Unicode characters in the MARC-21 character repertoire.
  7. Configurable Result sets. Column headings in result sets may include any of 15 commonly desired fields. These columns may be moved or resized, and most may be toggled to appear or not appear. Result sets may also be sorted by clicking on a column heading.
  8. Result set grouping. Any active column may be used to group like items together. Grouped items can be collapsed or expanded (like folders in Windows Explorer).
  9. Result set filtering. Result sets may be refined by typing in additional terms. The result set shrinks with each typed character to include only the items containing the typed text in one of the displayed columns.
  10. Toolbar configuration. Several toolbars are included to provide quick access to commonly used features. These toolbars may be turned on or off within any context and docked or undocked as in Office products. A toolbar's state and position will be remembered from one session to the next.
  11. MARC editor enhancements. Cursor movement has been changed to behave more like standard word processors. Control-arrow moves the cursor one word instead of one subfield.
  12. Information panes. Processes of interest to the user are reported in various information panes. These panes are initially attached to the bottom of the application frame, but may be moved and resized, and may be undocked to become a free-standing window. Such panes include:
    • Validation pane. This pane reports on a keystroke by keystroke basis when a MARC error has been introduced into the record.
    • Search output pane. During searches, this pane appears to provide detailed information on the status of the search. Searches are "threaded" so that other parts of the software may be accessed (for example, a MARC edit window) while the search proceeds against a slow server. Threading also permits a search to be cancelled immediately. Control passes immediately back to the user.
  13. HTML-based help. The format of help and Cataloger's Reference Shelf files will be migrated to HTML from the current HLP format. This provides a more modern, content-rich look and feel, and makes it easier to support internet-based links, embedded video clips, etc.
  14. Enhanced automatic control number control. Control numbers generated by the system will carry a date stamp and a prefix of up to five alpha characters, in addition to the serialized number.
  15. Toggling searchable databases. Resource databases, whether they reside on shipped media, ITS.MARC, or a Z39.50 resource, can be toggled off or on to be searched as part of the default search. This will be useful to prevent unintended searches against services that charge by the search.

Hardware and operating system considerations

BiblioFile will require a Windows XP or later operating system. Currently, ITS.forWindows will work on older operating systems if users are willing to forego recent software enhancements. This will no longer be true in BiblioFile.

All users are encouraged to access copy cataloging data online instead of on distributed media, because online data is updated every day, includes more databases, and generally provides a better hit rate. Newer records also tend to be in a more finished state. As a bonus, the online database does not require physical media management.

As mentioned above, CD-ROMs are being superseded by DVDs for physical media users. Thus, if online access is not practical for your library, you will need to acquire a DVD reader and a hard drive large enough to handle whatever MARC databases you subscribe to. As a benchmark, consider that if you subscribe to LC MARC English Current only, you would need about 20 gigabytes of hard disk storage. If you subscribe to all databases, you would need about 400 GB. These figures include a small amount for future database expansion.

Unicode features

Most library automation systems in use today support MARC-8 formatted records only. However, MARC-21 supports both MARC-8 and Unicode formats, and in coming years it is expected that all automation systems will either support Unicode or require it. BiblioFile can save MARC records in either format. A user could even specify that all saves take place in two separate files, one in MARC-8 and one in Unicode. However, there is a caveat. Not all Unicode characters have MARC-21 equivalents. BiblioFile rejects unsupported characters as they are keyed, thus preventing the save of a MARC record containing characters that are not part of the MARC-21 character repertoire.

BiblioFile also permits files to be configured to handle a mix of record types, based on the value of the Leader/09 byte. Some systems may react poorly to the importation of mixed files. TLC therefore recommends caution in the use of mixed files.

Help files

In addition to the migration to HTML help noted above, we are also changing the way help files and documentation are distributed. The current hard copy user manual will be trimmed considerably to list only major features and installation instructions. The full-featured user manual will be distributed in a new help file format that integrates more tightly with the software and can be printed in a PDF format for local use if desired.

Deprecated and deferred features

The new version will be initially released without some of the features in the current software. Some of these features are being removed because they no longer apply in today's cataloging environments. Others are being removed or deferred because – to our knowledge – they are not being used. Please let us know if this latter assumption is false in your environment for any given feature.

Deprecated features. The following are not being developed in the new software:

  • Page limiting (filtering based on the number or range of pages or running time).
  • Ability to read IPF formats. These are MARC records created with BiblioFile Cataloging (the old DOS program) that was replaced ITS.forWindows in 1995.
  • Classification and patron MARC record types. TLC is unaware of any ITS.forWindows users that use these record types.

Deferred features: Development of the following features is being deferred until after the initial software release.

  • Card printing. This is the big one. Is anyone still printing cards? The initial release will support edit sheet and label printing. Can a pocket label handle the needs of today's technical services departments? Card printing is on the deferred feature list, but may be added to the list of deprecated features, based on user feedback.
  • User-defined indexes. Over the years, we have observed that the primary use of these indexes is to provide access points to local holdings information, such as local call number and barcode. Thus, these two indexes are being added by default to the Active file. Their inclusion may obviate the need for user-defined indexes. TLC is also considering adding other useful and potentially popular indexes to the current lineup (e.g., publisher), partly because if an index is useful for the Active file, it may be useful with other databases as well.
  • Batch export will not permit the specification of uncommon fields to be used as selection criteria. The current software permits any field and subfield, whether indexed or not, to be used as a selection criterion for a batch export. The more powerful search and filtering options described in items 3 and 12 above may make the need for this feature less important. Additionally, the batch export feature in BiblioFile permits extracts based on date added to system, date of last edit, record type (bibliographic or authority), location code, collection code, or control number range. Multiple collection codes can be specified in a single extract. This eliminates the need for multiple-step extracts, as now required in ITS.forWindows .
  • ITS•MARC web searches. The automatic download of MARC records into the MARC editor will not be supported in the initial version. Such downloaded records will be saved instead to the Internet queue where they can be opened in the familiar way. It is possible that current web searchers will find the enhancements to Z39.50 searching superior to the web search option and will prefer that mode over web searching. If that happens, web searching will be deprecated. Note that Z39.50 searching requires port 5666 to be open if your library is behind a firewall.
  • Holdings record type. MARC Holdings records are not as commonly used in automation systems as was once predicted. We anticipate that they are still used in some environments, and would appreciate confirmation of that assumption.
  • Community Information record type. This is a decreasingly popular record type and is being deferred pending user feedback.

Beta release

A beta version of BiblioFile is scheduled to be released on May 1, 2006. TLC will be seeking beta candidates between now and then. Beta candidates will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, commit to performing testing in a non-production environment, and provide feedback to TLC on their findings. If you are interested in helping with this effort, please contact TLC Support.

Current software deprecation

ITS.forWindows will not be supported after January 1, 2007. All current users should be making plans for the conversion. We hope that this letter provides enough notice for this planning.

If you have any questions on the new software or its implications in your environment, or any feedback on the issues discussed above, please email your comments to support@TLCdelivers.com, or contact TLC Support at 800-852-4911 or 304-229-0100. Asian users may contact TLC's Singapore office at 65.6236.1450 or apsupport@TLCdelivers.com.

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