Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Workflows v. Horizon

Are you ready for this? I now have the old Unicorn version and the "new" Unicorn version on my desktop, simultaneously. The old one....I don't even know how to explain it. It's like a dinosaur version of an ILS. It has little radio buttons, but no mouse-over captions to help you understand what the little buttons do. It's one of those systems where, if you don't know what you're doing, you're not going to know what you're doing.
Ok, so fast forward to the "new" Unicorn. I put new in quotes because it's not really new; apparently this java-based platform has been around for a couple of years. But this institution just picked it up.
As a former Horizon user, I want to say, it's like Horizon's little brother or something. It just looks so much like Horizon's platform! Some differences, of course. No pretty picture when you open Unicorn, but it has drop down folders for each module, and while Unicorn (apparently) doesn't have hotkeys (although it might; I haven't been trained yet), there are "wizards" for each module that give you the shortcuts to actions for each module. It also calls Horizon's "bibs", "titles." Minor stuff, really. I am positive, of course, that the backend acts totally differently from Horizon, but it's interesting that they really ended up in similar places in terms of look and feel for the staff-end.
I think that Horizon users (like myself) would feel incredibly constrained by Unicorn, though. No SQL queries? No way to change the look and feel of each and every view? LAAMMME. But some of the views that Unicorn does provide are really neat. Like when you search in Workflows, you can get a little list of what you searched for, and you get a full view of each highlighted record underneath that list. You don't have to open a new window just to see the full record!
It's the little things, isn't it? More to come!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, Unicorn/Symphony has something we personally like better than sql: Sirsi (SirsiDynix now) has always had sel tools. The "sel" is short for "select" which has obvious and useful correlations with sql "select" statements. Same idea only easier to use. If you learned sql, you can learn sel tools in a heartbeat.

Even if you don't think sel tools are better than sql, it at least serves the same purpose: find the data you want and output them in a manner that suits you. That's all we really want at our library... that's what the ILS Bill of Rights is all about.

To manipulate the data you have edit tools, api transactions, remove ("rem") tools, and data loading tools. These tend to have a lot more error checking that sql, which allows you to shoot yourself in the foot much more readily. The documentation for all of the sel/edit/print/remove/load tools is very good.

By the way, the Java WorkFlows application was created before the Dynix merger. Most similarities are just born of the fact that the two companies were striving to make interfaces that allow people to do a common set of tasks. A lot of Java WorkFlows also bears a resemblence to III's millenium web (thin) client. I don't know the Dynix or Horizon staff clients well enough to comment on them, however.

"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.