The Akedemus Research Workstation
Fast amounts of information are now available and advances in library automation have helped make it more accessible. Now a new Mac product takes such software to a higher level. Search Anything, Anywhere The Akedemus Research Workstation, an online public access catalog (OPAC) program from COMPanion Corp., brings new features and performance to the field. And it is only the first half of the firm's offering for cutting-edge library automation. Alexandria 4.0, slated to debut in January 1996, will handle the Librarian's side of the equation. Both integrate significant new technologies. The guiding philosophy behind Akedemus Research Workstation is that students and teachers should be able to search all of a library's resources-CD-ROM databases, its own as well as public libraries' collections, even the Internet-from one machine. They should also be able to use results immediately. Akedemus achieves this by a built-in word processor with drag-and-drop functionality; simply click on an article, drop it into the word processor, edit and print it. For today's multicultural society, the program offers a multi-lingual user interface that can switch on the fly among Spanish, French and English. And on Macs equipped with PlainTalk, a SpeakText feature reads aloud search results or reports, which aids ESL and younger students as well as ADA compliance. Extremely fast search speed is attained with code accelerated for the Power Macintosh and new transaction-based client-server technology that has been two years in development. Other highlights to Akedemus include five-level Boolean and "sounds like" searching, plus up to four bundled databases such as A Matter of Fact, 70,000 abstracts that feature substantive, quotable excerpts from journals and publications on social, economic and political issues back to 1984. A final distinction: while the Akedemus client is designed to accompany the firm's Alexandria 4.0 Librarian product, it also works with other firms' library automation systems. Sneak Peek at Alexandria 4.0 Alexandria 4.0 was designed from scratch for Power Macintosh. However, key to its exceptional performance is the proprietary transaction-based architecture. Most client-server applications today use an older architecture called connection-based, which has inherent limitations. It requires the server to constantly send messages to each client, for example, and clients must perform the task after getting the data from the server. Under the transaction-based architecture, Alexandria clients send a request to the server, which then performs the entire task itself and returns results to clients. Even low-end client machines get quick results. For example, five students searching the A Matter of Fact database simultaneously using Akedemus will get their results in less than one second. COMPanion expects that Alexandria 4.0 users with Power Macs will get ten times the performance of competitors' systems using older architectures, and users with pre-Power Macs will still outpace other systems. Another advance in Alexandria 4.0 is a Prioritized Multi-Threaded Kernal, which lets the server handle multiple simultaneous queries and also prioritizes them so that circulation tasks, for example, take precedence over reports. Remote access and cross-platform connectivity are built in. It also handles the popular Kid's Catalog GUI. And its Virtual Union Catalog lets clients access everything on a WAN; a district can provide each of its schools access to all of its other schools' collections-saving money while widening resources. There's more to Alexandria 4.0, but that will have to wait till January. For now, the story is: "the ante just got upped."
This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.