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DialogLink Adds Chemical Structure Searching and Updated Interface
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Posted On March 7, 2005
Dialog released a new version of its professional searching software DialogLink today. DialogLink 5.0 builds upon the functionality enabled by version 4.0 (see "DialogLink Updated with XML Output and Secure Access,"http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16441) by providing its users with an updated interface design, improved searching and report output functionality, and the introduction of chemical structure searching to the Dialog platform.

Most prominent in DialogLink 5.0 is an improved interface design that includes expandable and movable Windows-like task panes that facilitate the searching experience. The look and feel of the interface has been improved with larger and slicker icons, including some new ones for ordering documents or patents and for contacting the DialogLink support team. Task panes provide a synopsis of sets and commands right next to the retrieve buffer for easy reference while offering point-and-click command shortcuts and links to helpful resources. For example, a "Help and Rates" task pane links to the Bluesheets for files currently in use, as well as links to relevant internal or external resources, while a "Session Navigator" pane displays and links back to all command lines entered throughout a search session.

Finally, the "Set Links" pane is the most useful of the three task panes and demonstrates the power that linking can offer. It displays and links back to search sets while offering shortcuts at a click of a mouse to common commands, such as REMOVE DUPLICATES, SORT and SAVE SEARCH, TEMP, or ALERT. Additionally, certain files invoke a contextual menu of derived searches among files with common indexing. For example, a chemical or biomedical search set will offer a "Find Toxicology Literature" link with an editable search strategy of default CAS registry numbers and database files.

A new PICKLIST task allows for the selection of individual records within a pop-up window for refining your post-processing commands to only those of interest. These PICKLIST tasks are facilitated with drop-down menus and include the selection of output, archiving, and applying redistribution rights. Since the PICK command output can also display in the buffer, you may continue to use the MARK record functionality previously available in DialogLink 4.0.

DialogLink's report-building feature, the most notable change in version 4.0, allows the offline development of multiple customizable reports from a single output file into Microsoft Word or Excel. DialogLink 5.0 has improved upon the customer experience by adding menus with HTML tags and providing a projected 50 downloadable templates (by the product release date) with plans for making more available throughout the year. Together with additional point-and-click features, Dialog has reduced the learning curve for creating customizable reports from hard earned search results, ultimately making report creation a reality for more of its users.

Chemical structure searching is the most significant addition to DialogLink 5.0. According to Cynthia Murphy, Dialog's senior vice president of strategic marketing, the impetus for offering this functionality was the identification of three work-flow issues of users across core industries: prior art analysis, market opportunity analysis, and product development. Murphy stated: "It was a matter of Dialog having the right content but missing the functionality for users to pinpoint the documents they needed."

Murphy said that Dialog is offering a crucial and functional role in the industry by providing structure searching as a starting point for prior art and other analyses. In selecting key organic and pharmaceutical content as initial file offerings for chemical structure searching, Dialog has opted for a targeted, focused approach to those researching the life sciences and drug pipeline data.

In its initial offering, DialogLink 5.0 allows chemical structure searching in four files: Beilstein Facts (File 390), Prous Science Drug Data Report (File 452), Pharmaprojects (File 128, 928), and a new file for Dialog, the Derwent Chemistry Resource (File 355). Murphy said users can expect additional Dialog content to be searchable by chemical structure through the end of the year. Chemical structure searching capability includes exact and substructure searches with output structure editing (MOL file), substructure highlighting, and alert creation. Pricing should not be a barrier to trying out structure searching on Dialog. There is no cost for a search that returns zero results, searching in Beilstein is free, and the other files cost $20 per search.

Structure searching requires a third-party drawing tool that supports MOL files. Samples of such software include STN Express, MDL ISIS/Draw, and CambridgeSoft ChemDraw. (For a review of selected chemical software programs see: "Chemical Information Software for Searchers," Searcher, 11 (9). October 2003.) It is worth noting that some freeware versions of commercial drawing applications exist, however their use is restricted to educational or non-commercial purposes.

As with the prior version, the upgrade to 5.0 is limited to Microsoft Windows users and requires the installation of Microsoft .NET Framework (version 1.1). The DialogLink 5.0 software installer is provided at no charge to Dialog customers and is available for download at Dialog's site: http://support.dialog.com/downloads. A product tour is available at http://www.dialog.com/newv.

Dialog continues to improve upon the searching functionality of its DialogLink software to further improve the user experience. Unless one prefers the dial-up capability last offered in version 3.0, there is no compelling reason to resist upgrading to version 5.0. To make the most of DialogLink 5.0, consider registering for training sessions, including those specific to patent and chemical structure searching. These sessions are scheduled to begin March 8, 2005; register at Dialog's training site at http://training.dialog.com/sem_info/calendar/webtraining/dialoglink.html.


Laura McBride Felter is an independent information consultant based in Washington state. She is a columnist for Searcher and is writing a review of DialogLink 5.0 for an upcoming Better Mousetrap column.

Email Laura McBride Felter
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