Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The evolution of the new masslandrecords

Here's my (unofficial) explanation of how the "new" version of masslandrecords came into being:

This registry was the first in the state to install the ACS 20/20 system for use within the registry of deeds. That happened in June 2002. Some months after that, in the midst of the system's deployment to other registries, the masslandrecords website went active. By that point, users had grown comfortable with the in-registry version of 20/20 but the web version was markedly different. Almost immediately there was a widespread desire expressed by users to make the web version look and behave more like the in-house version. Because of continuing deployments of the in-house system to other registries, changing the already functioning masslandrecords site was not a priority.

Finally, in January 2007, all of the registers of deeds from those sites that used the 20/20 system met with representatives of ACS and the Secretary of State's office to discuss masslandrecords. At that meeting, I exhibited a Power Point presentation that gave a side-by-side comparison of the in-house 20/20 system and the masslandrecords website. At that meeting, we collectively agreed to changes that should be made to masslandrecords to meet customer desires that it look and act more like the in-house system. Foremost among those modifications was a desire that all names returned pursuant to a search be listed in alphabetical order (the masslandrecords methodology presented just a single instance of each name variant with a number of times that name variant existed - to display them required one to display another layer of data).

Also, we had found that casual users who called for assistance via the telephone were routinely led astray by all the search options presented on the initial view of the website. A better approach, we felt, was to initially present a simple search (name only) with no variables but with an easy option to do an "advanced search" with all the variables available on the in-house version.

For a variety of reasons, it took several years to move from concept to reality with these new revisions. Ironically, by the time the prototype of the "new" site became available for testing, most users had grown quite comfortable with the initial version of masslandrecords (the one that had earned all of the complaints in its early existence) and were uncomfortable with the new system. Plus, the new system had some performance problems that created unreasonably long response times to searches. The new site went back for modification which have all been made, greatly improving the performance from that seen at its initial roll out.

The features of the new site continue to be quite desirable and, once people grow used to it, I believe it will be universally embraced. Besides the improved functionality of the new version, however, the old version was built upon obsolete technology that risks being left behind my contemporary hardware and software. Consequently, although it may not be visible to the user, the new version of masslandrecords will perform better and be easier to maintain moving into the future.


Anonymous said...

I'm liking it now that I have had the chance to get used to it! Hard to let go of old things, but, time to start a new!

Bob said...

I have been playing around with the new masslandrecords and I cannot figure out how to have it return documents recorded consectively. For example with the classic masslandrecords I click the document search tab, enter the book number, check the box that says "Beginning with" in red, enter the page number and the search will return all the documents recorded from that page forward. Since most title clearing documents are recorded immediately before the standard mlc, deed and mtg, it is standard practice for title examiners to check the documents recorded prior to the deed. If my deed is at 12345-100 I will start the search at 12345-90 and check the documents recorded prior. Thank you for your time, I will continue to familiarize myself with the new site.

Dick said...

Bob - although the new version lacks the "beginning with" check box that allows you to jump to the middle of the book, you can still perform the same type of search easy enough. On the new version, go to "search criteria" then select "book search." Using your example, just enter 12345 in the book number field and leave the page field blank. That will return separate lines for each document recorded in that book. The default display setting is 20 lines per page so the first page you see will have the document at page 1 at the top of the list and the document that begins on page 128 at the bottom. There are two additional "sets" of 20 for that book. That would seem to be a manageable number to navigate through. The display gives you the exact same information you would see in the classic view. If there are any other areas such as this where the two versions seem to differ, please bring them up so we can address them.

Bob said...

Thank you. I didn't think to leave the page field blank.