Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First Look at New Footnote.com Viewer

Roger Bell of Footnote.com alerted me on Saturday at the Family History Fair that the commercial database site http://www.footnote.com/ would unveil their new record viewer early this week. It's here!

On the previous Footnote viewer screen, there was only one navigation tool to move forward or backward in a particular record - the filmstrip at the bottom of the page. To go Back to the results page, the user clicked on the "Go Back" button.

Here is the screen shot of a page in the Revolutionary War Pension file for Philip Row of New Jersey:

The document page image now takes the full width of the screen. The filmstrip does not appear automatically at the bottom. As shown above, the filmstrip has some added features - the number of annotations on each page are shown in a little box, and the area covered in the document image on the screen is highlighted in yellow. You can click on the filmstrip image and change the area viewed on the screen. The user can still scroll up and down the document using mouse controls.

The user can navigate to the previous page or the next page by using the arrows on the left and right of the image, respectively.

On the left margin are the zoom in and out controls, 2x magnifier, fit to height, fit to width, rotate image, adjust image and full screen tools. Here is what you see with the 2x Magnifier:

The user can grab a corner of the magnifier and expand its scope, and can use the mouse to drag it around the image. I really like this!

On the previous viewer, the Source information for the collection and the specific document was in a static box on the right-side of the screen. In the new viewer, this source information is not displayed unless the user clicks the "About Image" link on the far left side of the menu just above the document image area. Clicking on "View Image" opens the source information box on the left-side of the viewer:

In the screens above, there is a navigation ribbon above the Menu (and below the Footnote viewer banner menu) that displays every step in the process that Footnote takes to get to a specific document image. For this example, the navigation ribbon says:

"All Titles > Revolutionary War Pensions > New Jersey > R > Row > Philip Row > Page 4"

The user can click on any one of the items in the ribbon - I clicked on the "Philip Row" item and the pages in his pension file appeared:

Using this list of pages, I could navigate to another page in the file. I could also have used the Microfilm Strip at the bottom of the page.

I can also see, in the screen above, the names of other pension files in the R list of New Jersey.

I clicked on the "New Jersey" link and saw:

On this page, I could have clicked on another letter and looked for Revolution War Pension files for another surname. Or I could have selected another state to search for surnames.

In my humble opinion, this is a major improvement in navigation and ease of use of the original records on Footnote.com. I've been very frustrated by the seemingly long load times for records on Footnote, and by the rather clunky navigation within a set of document pages. This improved viewer is much better - it will save me time and help me navigate records and documents on Footnote.

Disclosure: I am not an employee or affiliate of Footnote.com, and nobody has given me anything to write this post. I am a fully-paid and pretty satisfied subscriber of Footnote.com.


Anonymous said...

Hey Randy,

Any suggestions when the new viewer won't load? I've uninstalled and reinstalled Flash, as the help section says to do, even restarted my computer and still just a blank screen. I already use FireFox, too.

Ruth Stephens

chriswillis said...


We've seen some isolated issues with images not loading and are going to update the site tomorrow, which might help your situation.

If not please contact Footnote.com customer support and we'll provide more help.


// chris willis (Footnote.com)