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Newer Viewer Sneak Peek

Here at Footnote HQ, we’ve been working on some ways to improve the image viewing and browse experience.

We’ve received some great feedback from those of you who use the site and have tried to address the issues you’ve raised.

In the newer viewer, images should load faster, be easier to use and be more connected to the images around them.

Here are some of the specific things that should make image viewing better:

  1. Improved “About image” panel contains image details, contributions others have made and an easy way to add your own insights.
  2. Combined breadcrumb and browse make getting to other images faster and easier and we’ve added infinite browse columns to make browsing faster.
  3. Floating toolbar includes all the old favorites plus fit and fill buttons and a new magnifier tool.
  4. Annotation and spotlight displays will only show when your cursor is over them, so they don’t clutter up the image.
  5. “Find in image” now searches everything in the “About” panel and any text that was indexed using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
  6. New “Share” options include popular sharing sites and links for embedding images on your own blog or website.
  7. Updated filmstrip will show your zoom area, what’s been added to an image, whether or not it’s in your gallery and will even let you move around the image.
  8. New next and previous buttons let you get to nearby images without using the filmstrip.
newviewer

We aren’t quite ready to release these changes into the wild, but there is an early version of the viewer that we’ve been testing with our library users.  You won’t see all the improvements and some things have changed from this version, but you can take the library version for a test drive here.

We’ll post more details and tips for using the new viewer once it’s ready to go.

If you have comments, questions or suggestions regarding the image viewing experience on Footnote, please let us know.

50 Comments

  1. Looks pretty amazing,especially the fact that when I hovered over a phrase in the handwritten document,a box showed the digitized words,so I wouldn’t have to struggle to read the handwriting.I like the toolbar on the right,very useful.

  2. Got a “critical error” trying to experience the New Viewer. Please explain what the System Requirements are.

    Since your regular viewer is not compatible with Win98 or Win2000, hoped NewViewer would be.

  3. That critical error may have been a problem with a link that wasn’t working in some browsers. I’ve updated the link, so it may work for you now.

    The system requirements question is a good one. The main requirement for the viewer is that you use an internet browser that is supported by the site (IE6 or newer, Firefox 3 or newer, Safari 4 or newer)and you have the latest Flash player (Flash 10) running in that browser.

    The operating system you use should not be an issue as long as you can run a supported browser and Flash 10, so we’d love to know a little more about the system you are using and the error you are seeing. If you will send a message to support@footnote.com with more details, we may be able to figure out what’s causing the problem.

  4. I guess we won’t be using this on the Apple iPad when it comes out since you are using flash.

  5. I love the fact you can rotate the image and change the contrast…makes it wonderful to work with as well as easy to use.

  6. The link isn’t working for me. I’m running Linux (Ubuntu Jaunty) with Firefox 3.6. The current viewer works fine with this combo.

    On a hunch, I tried Chromium, the Linux version of Chrome. It loaded okay. Looks like the new viewer has some nice improvements, but still does not have a vertical scroll. You really need to be able to scroll the document using the mouse wheel, otherwise it is just frustrating trying to move around the document. Fix this and you’ve got a winner. Oh yeah please fix the Firefox compatibility also. I’m not ready to abandon it yet.

  7. Any and all information required for BGS required citation style would be very helpful and very much appreciated.

    Image viewing is one of my favorite things about your site. Much better than reading abstractions or transcriptions.

    • @E. Carlson @DedeHolden That is a great suggestion. Are there are other citation formats that you think people would find useful?

  8. The viewer worked great for me. I have XP and I use IE Version 8. Better quality image, more control and a faster pace. Thanks for the improvements.

  9. Looks great but Footnote needs to offer a training manual to learn how to navigate the site. The one they have isn’t doing it.

  10. HAD NO PROBLEMS USING THE NEW VERSION,ON WINDOWS XP..LIKE THE FULL SCREEN FEATURE THE BEST..ITS LIKE A NEW PAIR OF SHOES,UNTIL U BREAK THEM IN THEY DON`T FEEL SO GOOD,THAN AFTERWARDS THEY ARE UR FAVORITE,AND U DON`T WANT TO CHANGE THEM.. THANKS

  11. Looks good to me!

  12. This is a much improved viewer. Hope you get it ready soon. Thank you..Nancy

  13. Is this reader just for Footnote available documents? What is the difference between Footnote and Ancestry.com?

    Thank you.

  14. Looks great. Works fine for me with WinXP and Firefox. Thanks for the new features and improvements. Won’t miss the irritating little yellow boxes that got in the way of reading a page. Love the brightness/contrast adjustments. It all makes more fun research.

  15. hope it prints more clearly then it did before also.

  16. I think you probably have a good idea here, but it needs a lot of improvement yet. I tried three different browswers – Firefox 3.5.8, Internet Explorer 8, and Google Chrome (ver.unknown). IE wouldn’t even bring it up. The other two brought it up quite promptly but I couldn’t move around in the document. After reading what was exposed on the initial load, I could move it using the fist but every time I would try to stop and read, it would move off to somewhere else. As someone else said, it needs to be scrollable with the mouse wheel.

  17. I think it will be a lot better. I will probably need a bit more help. I dont understand what a footnote is and how to use it and who puts it there. do footnote staff or are they put there by the searcher.

  18. I, too, am uncertain how to use FOOTNOTE and does it require a fee?? I would appreciate an answer to my e-mail when you have a chance. Thank you very much.

  19. Awesome! It’s a tribute to the techies on your staff to put together this outstanding viewer!

  20. Plus — like the ability to reverse the image but I don’t think I would have found this feature if someone hadn’t commented about it.
    Minus — I didn’t see the “return” feature which one of my favorite features currently. I personally find the highlighting that goes off and on to be too distracting when I’m just trying to scroll down and read the document. Is there some way to turn it off altogether when you are not interested in it. I still don’t understand many of the features. I’m not patient enough to watch tutorials etc. but want things to be obvious. I currently use Footnote all of the time but have never left a commeent nor have I found any comment that was useful. I suppose if I were to find someone who is researching the same family and they left a comment that would be useful but so far that has not been the case. I’m always wary of new and improved features. Don’t make it too complicated by adding too many new features!

  21. Amazing….

    For me knowing the details of the document is very important. Would like to see a cite option that would allow me to print details of the source, page, author, etc..

  22. Like E. Carlson, and others, I would also like an easy way to print the source citation information. Love the new viewer.

  23. Hi
    is this the viewer that I need when WVR refers to F N ??
    if so how come we are not allowed access to use it seeing we pay a premium to WVR?

  24. This viewer rocks! Using Windows 7-64 bit,Firefox 3.6. Images load very fast and are completely navigable. Makes the viewer on Ancestry seem like a Model T. Thanks for all of this.

  25. For an old timer like me this is very confusing and not user friendly. I think I’ll pass.

  26. @Glenn Sorry to hear the viewer is confusing. Is there something specific that we could make more clear?

  27. @Nancy Bryant We appreciate your feedback. It’s good to know that the Reverse image is useful for you.

  28. I mainly use the city directories. Love the list of years for a specific city all in one column so I don’t have to keep paging over. However, when I select a year, how do I tell it which surname I am looking for?

  29. This is pretty nice — worked well in Firefox on Mac OS 10.6.2. I like the filmstrip and I like the sidebar actions to zoom in and out, go full screen, etc. It’s not immediately apparent what the zoom icons mean though — might make more sense to have a standardized icon like a magnifying glass (pretty standard is a lens with a plus sign for zooming in, and a lens with a minus sign for zooming out) — that would be immediately obvious at a glance. The breadcrumb feature is also quite nice. The annotation boxes are pretty annoying (don’t like having all these boxes jump on and off as I move my mouse around, and the little text icon that scrolls out to reveal text and i for information rolls back in if you accidentally move your cursor off). Will this just get cluttered up with more and more annotations as people add them, or just mine — even just mine would be annoying. There ought to be a way to turn that off, I think (I can’t see any way to do this, and it’d be the first thing I did!) — if you could track how many turned it off that might be interesting. Presumably if I wanted to read annotations, I could instead right click or control-click on an area and have an option to read annotations in a new window or screen, or show them in the sidebar. I don’t really get why the annotations right now all seem just to be transcribing the text within the selected area. How would this work if you wanted searchable text but also informative annotations? What if you had a really long note you wanted to add? Would it scroll on a small screen? Would overlapping ones interfere with visibility? It’ll be easy enough I guess to export Flash for iPhone / iPad in Flash CS5, so that would be nice — esp. iPad. All in all, pretty nice work.

  30. How do I get to use this new viewer?
    Joan

  31. Love the viewer upgrade. I would also like to print
    the source information. I like to us Elizabeth Shown as my
    authority on citing sources. I’d really like to have a
    brief description of the source other than just Footnote
    on any pages I print, such as the NARA Schedule number, film number. It could be embedded in the footer.

  32. Haven’t tried it yet. Is there a way to completely turn off the cursor-activated annotation that pops up? I often run my cursor along the page as I read. Being able to disable even the cursor-activated annotations would really help!

  33. Great Job! I can remember my vain attempt at creating a “Family Tree” years ago; and then came “Footnote”! Your link to AccessGenea…is great, and now this…I especially like the new “All Titles” access link.
    YOU GO FOOTNOTE!!

  34. Can’t find the annotations.

  35. I like it but I do not see where you can go up and down without moving the document.

  36. I initally thought this was the greatest thing since whitebread but I have never been able to use..it is so complicated and confusing. For the older users that have limited computer skills this ia sooooo frustrating!!

  37. I think that the viewer is a marvellous tool, to have access to these types of records especially when you live in Australia. I have visited NARA in Washington, spent a lot of time and did not find necessarily what I was looking for, time is at a premium when you are travelling.
    Having the ability to search records, I have discovered things that I would not have found by requesting documents in the normal fashion, as you do at NARA, I have stumbled on other documents that I did not know existed, by accident, as compared to filling in the request docket and waiting for the documents to be brought up. Time is a valuable thing when you are doing research. The information that is kept by NARA is amazing and this is an amazing tool to have, to search in your own time, trying different search criteria, at any time, especially for genealogists who work late into the night, constantly on the hunt for information, and not necessarily during normal business hours. Keep up the great work. You guys should be extremely proud in your efforts of making these records available to us and furthering our understanding of our pasts. Sure, some people will experience bugs and problems, but that is a part of technology, patience is a valuable thing in all of this.

  38. Footnote is the worst web-site I have ever used. It sounds like you are improving it, but I see that you have no answer for Sandra Trapp. Note when I look at a city directory I want to see the title and copyright page(s) first since the year in title is not always the same as year printed and copyrighted. Then I want to find one or more specific names, which is very diffucult if you do not know in advance the first name on the page, hardly possible when looking for something never seen.

  39. Wow, I go to a conference for a few days and all these great comments come pouring in. Here are a few responses.

    Sandra,
    With the city directories, after you have selected a year, you should see a list of the pages in the directory. Generally, the first several pages are general information about the location, just like in a modern phone book, and then come the names in alphabetical order, sometimes with ads and more general info mixed in. In that list you’ll see the first name on the page for each page, so you can scan it like you would a modern phone book until you see two pages that start with names before and after yours and then go to the earlier page. Sorry to make that sound more complicated than it is.

    We have also used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to “read” the pages. This works pretty well if the image is clean. So you could select the year you want and then click “Search Within” at the top right of the browse box and do a search in that year. That’s not a bad way to go, but the scan-through-it-like-a-phone-book approach is probably a bit more reliable.

    I hope that helps. If not, please contact us and let us know what we can do to make it better.

    Allison,
    Thanks for the great feedback. On the questions about annotations. The sample image we chose may have given a bad sense of the tool. We wanted to choose one that people would recognize and one that had some large annotations and other contributions so that folks could see how the new viewer handled them, but these annotations are not typical. On your question about adding a long note: annotations are really intended to identify or clarify things on the image and make them searchable. If your note is information about the image, perhaps it would be better as a comment or a Spotlight.

    Joan,
    The new viewer will be available on the site soon. For now, we just have this early version running and wanted to give you a sneak peak.

    Susan,
    Great feedback. Thanks.

    EJ,
    There’s not yet, but enough people seem interested in it that we’ll definitely look into it.

    GunterGirl,
    Thanks for the encouragement. We’ll do our best :)

    hx_searcher and David,
    I’m not sure I’m following you. Can you send us some more information and we’ll see if we can help?

    Don,
    Anything specific you are confused with? We’d love to know what’s causing the frustration so we can try to clear it up.

    Thanks Ben, that’s very helpful perspective and thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

    Robert,
    Sorry to hear about your frustrations with Footnote. We’d love to hear more about what frustrates you so we can try to make it better. You can send us feedback at support@footnote.com or by using the Contact Footnote page.

  40. Just took a quick look, but found I missed having the yellow location indicator. Reading the whole document doesn’t make much sense when you want John B. Robin and get John Robinson, or John’s son etc. Having the yellow highlight at least made it quicker to find your exact inquiry term.

  41. Gail,
    The yellow hit highlights will still appear when you use the “Find” feature or when you come to the viewer from a search. It looks a little different in this early version than it does in the version we’re currently working on, but you can try it by using the “Find in image” and searching for “proposition”. Once the new version is live and you’ve had a chance to use it, we’d love to hear what you think.

  42. Cannot scroll, I like the old one better. Might have to cancell my subscription.

  43. Jay,
    Sorry to hear about the troubles you’re having. There aren’t scroll bars in the new viewer, but you should be able to move the image around by clicking and dragging it or, if you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, you should be able to use that to move the image up and down.

    To click and drag the image, put the cursor over the middle of the image, click the left mouse button and hold it down while you move your cursor around.

    To use the scroll wheel, put your cursor over the image and then scroll the cursor just like you would to scroll a web page.

    We really appreciate your feedback and hope you will continue to let us know when there are things that are making it harder for you to use Footnote.

  44. I too cannot get the new viewer to work. I am running Fox Fire 3.6. I get a pink bar that pops up at the top of the grey view area. All it says is “A critical error occurred initializing the viewer”. and there is a Close button. It doesn’t matter whether I click the close button or not, according to the bottom left of my browser it shows it is still loading. Eventually it shows as Done but no image appears. I have tried reloading the tab and it does the same thing. If I just let is sit there it will flash a grey progress bar for just an instant but nothing more happens.

  45. Sorry to hear about your troubles Dorothy. We haven’t been able to duplicate the problem you are describing, so the folks from support should be contacting you to see if we can learn a little more about what’s going on.

  46. I think that the viewer is a marvellous tool, to have access to these types of records especially when you live in Australia. I have visited NARA in Washington, spent a lot of time and did not find necessarily what I was looking for, time is at a premium when you are travelling.
    Having the ability to search records, I have discovered things that I would not have found by requesting documents in the normal fashion, as you do at NARA, I have stumbled on other documents that I did not know existed, by accident, as compared to filling in the request docket and waiting for the documents to be brought up. Time is a valuable thing when you are doing research. The information that is kept by NARA is amazing and this is an amazing tool to have, to search in your own time, trying different search criteria, at any time, especially for genealogists who work late into the night, constantly on the hunt for information, and not necessarily during normal business hours. Keep up the great work. You guys should be extremely proud in your efforts of making these records available to us and furthering our understanding of our pasts. Sure, some people will experience bugs and problems, but that is a part of technology, patience is a valuable thing in all of this.

  47. Love the new viewer & its awesome images, but I’m interested in knowing how to download several pages of documents without having to open them each in sequence into the viewer first–is this possible? Would have a heap o’ time!

    Thanks!