Cross Browser Graduates with New Look, Better Maps & Photos
Next week, Hawaii Information Service will be releasing REsearch 5.0, which is the official launch of the cross browser version of REsearch.
REsearch Cross Browser was first made available late last year, and we are glad to see that most users have made the switch (although REsearch 4.5 will remain available through 2012).
Of course, rebuilding our system from one that works in a handful of environments into one that runs on more than 40 different computer configurations has been a huge undertaking, and we’ve since squashed hundreds of bugs and logged countless hours of testing to improve and strengthen our code.
Now we are now confident that this upcoming upgrade to REsearch works in all of latest internet browsers (including Internet Explorer 9, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox) on most major systems (including both Windows and Macintosh machines, as well as many mobile devices).
An obvious goal was to maintain the same functionality provided by our Internet Explorer-only system. Fortunately, this unprecedented effort to review every aspect of REsearch also provided a great opportunity to introduce some major improvements that we’re sure you’ll appreciate. Some things have changed, but we believe they have changed for the better.
What’s New in REsearch 5.0
When REsearch 5.0 is released, you will notice a substantial design overhaul. Over the years, REsearch has had pieces added and upgraded, and the design had started to become fragmented. Our designers, informed by thousands of customer support interactions, used this opportunity to go through REsearch to not only give it a fresh and more consistent look, but improve dozens of user interface elements to make it easier to navigate the system.
The mapping system that is in the current Cross Browser system is clearly not the mapping system you deserve, deployed in a rush to meet the minimum cross-browser compatibility requirements. Fortunately, over the past several weeks, we have implemented a solution that will not only be much faster and easier to use, but will also look better and provide some additional functionality. We’re keeping all the tools and functions that you are used to using with our maps, but introducing some great new features, such as:
- Standard ways of navigating. On most mapping systems, you are able to quickly move the map around using your mouse, and zoom in and out using your mouse wheel. Now our system supports the same ways of navigating around.
- Better measurement tools. You still have the ability to measure using a single segment or multiple segments, however we added a couple of new tools. First is “path,” in which you can free-hand draw a path and get a measurement. Second is “area,” which will give you the square footage of an area you’ve drawn. Finally, for land listings, you can use “lat/long’ to get latitude and longitude coordinates that you can then enter into your GPS device.
- Better polygon searching. You still have the ability to restrict your search to certain areas on the map by drawing polygons. But we’ve added a new tool that allows you to free-hand draw a polygon, which will allow you to “weave around” parcels. In addition, polygons are movable and editable, so if you make a mistake, you can easily adjust it. You are also now able to draw multiple polygons to include several areas at once. And finally, we added a “clear” button next to the polygons so you can clear them out without needing to clear your whole search.
- Updated layers. You may be familiar with the error message, ‘Some of the properties have not been geocoded’. This was because we didn’t have the parcel boundaries for some of the properties you searched for. With the new maps, we are also including updated layers that should greatly reduce the frequency with which you see this message. And even when you do see it, we’ve tried to make its display less annoying so that it doesn’t interfere with your work.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but we know that the heavily-compressed pictures in our system (based on outdated web and system limitations) are worth about a hundred. A picture is always the first thing clients wants to see, so we dedicated a great deal of time to improve how they’re handled. We upgraded our photo server and the software that you use to load the photos to greatly increase the photo quality. If you want to be able to upload multiple photos at once, you will want to need to have Flash installed. This system will also automatically resize your pictures for you. If you still have the original pictures for an existing active listing, we encourage you to reload the photos to take advantage of this increased image quality.
We’ve had several reports that the system has been timing users out, prematurely ending login sessions and interrupting your work. Our developers focused on this bug and a fix is included with this release. If you continue to get timed out while you were actively using your computer and our system, please report this to us so that our developers can investigate further.
We’d like to remind you that along with REsearch Cross Browser (and now REsearch 5.0) comes the introduction of CloudCMA, a modern, elegant, and fast way to generate Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) reports and other marketing pieces. They can be customized, printed, emailed, or shared online. We are very excited to have partnered with CloudCMA, which has created a lot of buzz in the industry, and to provide their great solution to our membership at no extra cost.
We are working on bringing you more great new tools over the next year, such as support for lockbox systems and better rental property data. In order to continue moving forward, please note that these new features and enhancements will be developed and deployed in REsearch 5.0 only. REsearch 4.5 will be maintained as-is (and you will have plenty of warning before we begin to phase it out).
- Better Button Placement: The standard buttons shown at the bottom of the REsearch screen sometimes shift, move, or displayed in ways that were confusing or caused users to accidentally click the wrong one (particularly “Clear/New Search”). We’ve moved this button over to the left to prevent this, and adjusted the rest of the buttons accordingly.
- Copy Differently: Unfortunately, cross-browser compatibility meant we could no longer support the old way of copying items to your computer’s clipboard (because access to that clipboard is restricted without workarounds, like Microsoft’s ActiveX for Internet Explorer). So we chose to follow industry best practice and open a new window containing the content to be copied so that the formatting can be kept clean, and so you can copy-and-paste using your system’s default method.
- Forms Tab Removed: After most system forms were transitioned to zipForm, we removed this main navigation tab and put a link to zipForm under the ‘Listings’ menu. The ‘Listings’ menu also gives you easy access to subscriber forms such as data change or office change forms. You no longer have to log out of REsearch to access them.
- Optional Shade View: The initial release of Cross Browser offered a different way of displaying information, for example showing search results in a in a partial overlay window shade or drawer that you could slide left or right to make it bigger or smaller, while still being able to see some data behind it. This caused some confusion for many users so it was disabled by default. However, if you liked the shade view or would like to try it, you can turn it back on in your REsearch settings. Simply go to ‘Settings,’ and under ‘Tabbed Detail Options,’ select the bullet next to ‘remain visible.’ Click OK to save.