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David Lee King

OZSDUG Meeting and Demo of Rome



The Gordian Knot blog recently mentioned the OZSDUG (OZarks SirsiDynix Users Group) meeting that took place on June 5th… I attended the meeting – here are my notes:

First up, a SirsiDynix Sales Rep answered a list of pre-prepared questions:

  • Question – Can we trust SirsiDynix promises? Answer – “No.”
  • The company that bought Sirsi told them to drop one product, so they could focus on making just one thing (makes sense)
  • There has been no end of life announced for Horizon
  • They will support Horizon 7 for the next 4-6 years (see the first point, above… :-)
  • Claimed Unicorn is a modern ILS
  • Unicorn/Rome has a very open API – is this true?
  • Unicorn/Rome is closer to Horizon 8 in terms of functionality
  • Rome is simply the next release of Unicorn (ie., 3.2) plus whatever they can swipe from Horizon 8
  • Rome releases 1, 2, and 3 – some functionality will be in 3 rather than in 1 or 2
  • Rome will be beta testing this summer
  • They will release a new version once a year
  • Lots of Horizon functionality won’t be in Rome 1
  • SAAS – they don’t host it – it’s outsourced to a server farm in Atlanta (makes sense) – Sirsi handles the software upgrades
  • San Diego Public and Kansas City Public are currently using SAAS
  • Rome is simply a marketing term – they’re working on renaming it

Then another sales rep did a demo of Unicorn EPS:

  • It’s ugly (my opinion!)
  • It does (finally) have built in RSS feeds on searches (yippie!)
  • Includes federated search as part of the base package, which also works with the RSS feeds (yippie!)
  • Don’t have to subscribe to Rooms to get RSS and the federated search portion – both are part of the base package
  • Sirsi updates Rooms – not the customer! That seems odd
  • Claimed that Sirsi spent lots of time designing the default Rooms look – then the speaker spent a lot of time pointing out the three-column design and explained the eye-tracking F thing…
  • However (my opinion) the base package is extremely ugly. It looks like it was made in 1999 rather than in 2007. Sirsi could certainly spend some time and money doing little itty bitty visual tweaks to make the customer web-based piece look at least normal, if not truly modern – just hire or contract with a designer!
  • One thing that really amazed me – on the default product in the list of results, do they highlight the title of the book and put the title at the top of the record? No… instead, they put the call number up at the top, in bold and in a larger font. That doesn’t seem customer-friendly to me.
  • This guy for some reason came off as being insincere – after the Sirsi people left, a question was asked “did anyone like [sales dude]?” Almost everyone said “no!” pretty loudly (which surprised me)! I think that was because of his presentation style (he was trying to be funny, but it came out being more edgy/sarcastic) – again, my take!

Finally, the Sales Director, East spoke about future directions and answered a few questions:

  • I asked a question – with the SAAS service, do you have to look like you’re hosted at Sirsi (most hosted sites I’ve seen have a sirsi.net/libraryname URL)? They didn’t know, but called in the question (which was cool – thanks!), and yes – you can use whatever domain name/URL you want to…
  • They’re working on a web staff client – there will be a limited release later this year
  • He admitted to swiping slides from Abrams… :-)
  • Working on a faceted and visual search – I think they showed screenshots of a mock-up. It looks to be much the same as Aquabrowser, Endeca, or that new Worldcat thing that’s out
  • text messaging holds and overdues – this functionality was in Horizon 8. It is “in queue” for Rome (didn’t say which version)
  • Someone made the comment that what we see when Stephen Abram speaks or when we listen to the SirsiDynix Institute seminars and what we see when we actually see a SirsiDynix product or talk to a sales rep seem to be two very different things. To that, the Sales Director said (my summary here): we walk a fine line with Abrams and with the SirsiDynix Institute – we don’t want it to appear like we actually do all the stuff that Abrams says (apparently because he speaks at lots of non-Sirsi things??? – just what the rep said…), or what the Institute teaches. I didn’t like the separation he put between what appears to libraryland as the
    voice of the company and the actual product – if the voice and the
    product say two different things, well… that’s not good!
  • And to be fair, he DID say that Abrams has a list of stuff that HAS to be in Rome for it to be successful (so that’s something, at least). But he did NOT say that SirsiDynix was working to include that list in Rome. And

So – to sum up… we heard:

  • don’t trust Sirsi
  • they made us drop horizon
  • we promise to continue to support horizon (see #1)
  • Showed us what they consider to be a modern ILS (Rome/Unicorn)… the audience didn’t agree (gleaned from the discussion after the Sirsi reps left)
  • When Abrams says something cool, or when you hear something neat about an ILS system at the SirsiDynix Institute, don’t expect it to appear in an actual Sirsi product.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.gordian-knot.org/ suzyq

    Hi David, and thanks for coming and keeping them honest! :_)

    Per your one point,

    “Unicorn/Rome is closer to Horizon 8 in terms of functionality”

    I would just caveat that they “said” Unicorn/Rome WILL BE closer to Horizon 8 in terms of functionality. Unicorn as it is today, structurally and functionally, is nowhere near the design of 8. What Rome or [insert new product name] will be like when version 1, 2, or 3 gets done remains very much to be seen.

  • http://www.gordian-knot.org suzyq

    Hi David, and thanks for coming and keeping them honest! :_)

    Per your one point,

    “Unicorn/Rome is closer to Horizon 8 in terms of functionality”

    I would just caveat that they “said” Unicorn/Rome WILL BE closer to Horizon 8 in terms of functionality. Unicorn as it is today, structurally and functionally, is nowhere near the design of 8. What Rome or [insert new product name] will be like when version 1, 2, or 3 gets done remains very much to be seen.

  • http://www.bpl.org Scot Colford

    Very nice summary of your visit from SD. It fits quite nicely with the impressions we’ve had after recent meetings with their folks.

  • http://blog.skagirlie.net/ maire

    “Claimed Unicorn is a modern ILS”

    that actually made me laugh out loud.

  • http://blog.skagirlie.net maire

    “Claimed Unicorn is a modern ILS”

    that actually made me laugh out loud.

  • brad

    hmmm. this doesn’t sound encouraging, however, i guess my view was colored by their answer to the first question–do not trust us. when were we going to build our own catalog, david?

  • brad

    hmmm. this doesn’t sound encouraging, however, i guess my view was colored by their answer to the first question–do not trust us. when were we going to build our own catalog, david?

  • http://www.daveyp.com/blog/ Dave Pattern

    Nice to hear that it’s Stephen Abram, rather than the customers, who is dictating what will be in Rome ;-)

  • http://www.daveyp.com/blog/ Dave Pattern

    Nice to hear that it’s Stephen Abram, rather than the customers, who is dictating what will be in Rome ;-)

  • Rob Smith

    Small point of ilumination, the first dude to speak (and finish up with the cowboy poetry) was Jim Wilson, VP and the only remaining founder of Dynix Inc. still working with (or for) them.

  • Rob Smith

    Small point of ilumination, the first dude to speak (and finish up with the cowboy poetry) was Jim Wilson, VP and the only remaining founder of Dynix Inc. still working with (or for) them.

  • http://www.bpl.org/ Scot Colford

    Very nice summary of your visit from SD. It fits quite nicely with the impressions we've had after recent meetings with their folks.