Monday, October 03, 2011

New MassLandRecords now default application

The changeover to the new version of MassLandRecords as the default search application took place over the weekend.  I've been writing about it for a couple of weeks now so it really shouldn't be a surprise to any of our readers.  Still, it is a bit of a shock when it first occurs.  Here are some of the topics that we've reviewed recently:

Navigating the New MassLandRecords (September 20)

Plans on the New MassLandRecords (September 29)

New MassLandRecords: Registered Land (September 30)

While the changeover appears to have gone smoothly, here are a couple of observations from our own experience this morning and from some of the user calls and comments we've already received.

The ADVANCED button:  No matter how you choose to search (based on what you select from the "search criteria" box), the basic windows in which you enter your search terms are in a line across the top of the screen.  If you continue looking to the right along that line, past the SEARCH and RESET buttons, you will see the ADVANCED button.  By clicking on that, you will display additional fields that can be used to narrow your search.

REFRESH your browser:  If you use the bookmark or follow your usual link to the search function and can't reach it, try clicking on the "refresh" button on your browser before clicking on the link.  To speed up webpage retrieval, most browsers store a copy of the page you visit on your own computer.  That way, when you call for that page again, your computer can retrieve it directly from storage rather than downloading it from the internet.  This creates a problem when a change is made to a webpage.  When you call for it, your browser will load the old version, not the new.  When you click "refresh", it forces the browser to load the page from the internet so you pick up the latest version with all changes.  Unfortunately, the "refresh" button is in a different place on each browser (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome) and often in a different place on the same browser, depending on the version in use.

Classic MassLandRecords:  The "old" version of MassLandRecords is still available, at least until January.  To reach it, go to the main page of the "new" MassLandRecords and look for this language:

The Secretary of the Commonwealth has recently updated the website to streamline searches for its users. These changes provide you with quicker access to more information. We are eager to know what you think; please provide your feedback at If needed, you may continue to access Classic Masslandrecords until January 1, 2012.
 And click the "Classic Masslandrecords" link


Anonymous said...

We frequently have an issue on all the registries under the new Masslandrecords with printing. We regularly have to go through the process of printing 3 or 4 times before it will actually go through. We press the print icon on the right side of the screen, and then "Next" on the Print Criteria pop up screen. The print menu comes up while the browser opens a new window for the print wizard. Next, I click print on the menu screen, which disappears, and a status bar comes up. We get an error message that says "Tab has been recovered, print cannot be done". With the old system, with Alternatiff, it was a one-and-done system to print.

Dick said...

I'll try to duplicate the printing problem you describe and write an about it in a future post. Regarding the old system and "Alternatiff", my experience was that the Alternatiff application either stopped working or became obsolete three of four years ago. Ever since then, I routinely chose "download document pages" to download the document to my computer. Once there, it was easy to print, email, or archive. On the new system, you have that same capability with the "basket" feature which allows you to download the document image as a PDF file. Once you've downloaded it, you can print it, email it or do whatever you want. It's completely under your control. Anytime I help someone via email or the phone, even with the old system, I always advocated downloading the image rather than printing on the fly - it was much more stable and reliable.

Bob Moriarty said...


I know it is fruitless to complain, but the new system is horrible for the people that need to use the system all the time. Alternatiff continued to work flawlessly for everyone I know who uses it. The biggest advantage was the one click view and print. Click to view high quality view, view and if you want to print, done.

With the new system as you suggest click to view, click to add to basket, click to confirm, then click to downed, click to confirm, open the compressed file, open the PDF and then you can click. Try doing that all day long and you can understand how frustrating it is.

From what you have written in prior blogs it appears that this system is designed to be friendlier for the occasional user but in doing so it is costing full time examiners. Perhaps something can be done to help the frequent users such as making the advanced view the default and allowing us to add documents ton the basket or print them without confirming.

The other issue seems to be that the system does not cache copies. If one clicks to view a document, you must wait for it to download, if you then want to print it, it appears to wait while the document is downloaded. Thisnis really a time killer.


Dick said...

I wouldn't say it was "fruitless to complain" because I will pass along these comments to the folks running the site. They will appreciate the thoughtful feedback and perhaps be able to tweak the new system to improve its performance. In the meantime, a couple of points in response:

(1) since yesterday was the first day that a lot of people used the site, the speed at which images displayed may have lagged but that's something that's easily fixed once there's some actual performance data on the site;

(2) throughout the day yesterday I fielded many phone calls, emails, and walk-in comments from customers who all pretty much said "I could do this on the old site but not on the new site." In every case, they were not correct; they could do exactly the same thing on the new site. Once I explained how, they were fine with it;

(3) In my 16 years here at the registry, I cannot remember a single technology roll-out that was not met by complaints from "full time examiners." But in every case, once the novelty of the change wore off, the new way of doing things was accepted with little lingering nostalgia for the old. Call it "the title examiner who cried wolf" syndrome. Maybe this new system is flawed, but that's an assessment better made thirty days after the cut over, not thirty hours.

Bob Moriarty said...


There is no question that change always comes with some necessary adjustment and that people get used to doing things in a particular way and do not want to change. Maybe it is the title examiner who cried wolf, but there are also instances in which software becomes bloated and slower without offering real benefits. There is a reason that so many people are still using Windows XP and not Windows 2007 or are using Office 2003 (or even 1997!) and not Office 2010. Bloatware offering "features" that no one asked for or cares to have.

The new system clearly has advantages. Some of the new searches that are possible such as selecting grantors and grantees is a terrific feature. And the single listing of names instead of multiple categories is a great improvement. I just wish there was a way to improve the system without slowing the process in the way that it has.

Also please bear in mind that this is not a new system to many of the regular users. Many of us have been exposed to this system in the Plymouth Registry and so already have a familiarity with it. It is not a question of 30 hours, it is months of dread knowing that this was coming. The simple fact is that it takes longer to do the things that examiners need to do with the new system than it did with the old. Much of the delay is the result of additional clicks that are required, but there is also inherent slowness in the new system. Loading the front page in the old system was instantaneous, now there is a discernible wait for the front page to load. At every step there is a longer waiting time, only seconds, but that becomes very frustrating.

Hopefully the designers of the software will hear the complaints (and I am not alone on this) and the system will improve and we will all be saying how happy we are that the old system is gone, but that day is not yet here.


Jeff Welch said...

The basket is kind of cumbersome. Plymouth has had the new version of 20/20 for over a year, and I stopped using the basket on day one. Instead, I just print my documents as I go.

Other than printing being a bit cumbersome, the new version is better than the old one.

Anonymous said...

I also tried the new system many times throughout the trial period, but ultimately always defaulted to the old system. The new system is slow and cumbersome.