Archive for April, 2017

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Gimlet v2 – Question Entry Improvements

Our time-tested interface for adding questions is simple, comfortable, and super easy to use. You can introduce new staff members to Gimlet and they “just get it” extremely fast. It’s intuitive and straightforward.

Gimlet v1 - Question Entry Form

So… How do you improve on all of that goodness? We have some GREAT ideas.

Gimlet v2 Question Entry Highlights

1) Site/Location

Our new design places these least frequently changing options outside of the main data entry form. You’ll sign into Gimlet, make sure your library branch and service point are properly selected, and you’ll basically never need to change them for the duration of your shift on the desk. Time saved for everyone.

2) Difficulty

Difficulty is an optional category in Gimlet and it will also be optional the Gimlet v2 — if you’re interested, an account administrator can toggle this feature on or off.

In Gimlet v1, the difficulty option was a set of radio button options below our tagging feature. In Gimlet v2, we’ve moved difficulty into the main form entry area, which makes using the option faster, and allows you to better label your difficulty levels. It streamlines the entire form, making it the same type of input as the other main categories. Again, this change will help to speed up data capture significantly.

3) Time and Date

It might not be well known, but Gimlet v1 has this feature where you can enter time as a spoken phrase: “1 hour ago”, “15 minutes ago”, “yesterday at 3pm”, etc. We also auto-increment the time of day per second, which is pretty nice most of the time, but it hides that today’s date is the assumed date.

No more. Enough being cute.

We’ve separated time input from date input in Gimlet v2. Now time works all by itself. You won’t get one of those silly data entry errors saying Gimlet doesn’t understand the time you entered. The date input also includes a native calendar picker, too. These changes will keep you accurate and raise your confidence as you enter data.

4) Tagging

Tagging helps everyone keep their data terse and accurate. A nice set of promoted tags helps make Gimlet easy and quick to use. Because of it’s importance, we’ve given the tag input area more prominence. Free-text tag entry is disabled by default, which will help cut down on all the “dvd” versus “dvds” tags in your data. And, if you do enable free-text entry, tags will now be comma separated (because that’s how most of us assume they’ll work). We’ve simplified the tag auto-suggestion and entry process, too.


So, ultimately, what is already a quick system to use at the desk today, will be a much, much faster system to use in the future. Sound good? Let me know what you think and drop a comment below!

Okok, that’s all for today. I’ll return next week to write a post about search improvements in Gimlet — something I’m thrilled about. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
– Eric

April 28th, 2017  |  Published in Gimlet #2

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Gimlet: Now with the Power to Forget

The Internet never forgets. Starting now, Gimlet can.

In Gimlet, we’ve always encouraged our clients to keep their data free from sensitive or identifying information. But from time to time, we’ve noticed personal data slip in to the database. And once it’s in, finding it and cleaning it out by hand is nearly impossible. So! To help you keep your (and your patrons’) digital lives free of radioactive sludge, we’ve added a new feature: the Gimlet Privacy Guard.

With this feature, you can choose an amount of time (between 30 and 365 days), and after that time, we’ll automatically clear the Question and Answer fields from your entries. After 28 days, our backups are automatically purged, and that radioactive data will be gone. Completely.

Other fields (your stats categories, tags, and timestamps) won’t be touched — so you’ll still be able to see reporting trends dating back to the dawn of time. The main thing you’ll notice is that, since the question and answer text has been cleared, the search feature won’t find these questions anymore.

A bit more background

As we go through our online lives, we leave behind a trail of data about our personal lives. In our Gmail inboxes. Our Amazon purchase history. Our Facebook profiles. The catalogs of the libraries we visit.

Tech companies are terrified of losing this data, because losing customers’ data is bad for business — but also because this data is valuable. Data lets companies train machine learning programs, so they can tell which emails are spam, make better guesses at what you want to buy, and know that you always want to read the status updates from your secret Facebook crush.1 And a large segment of the tech industry is built around selling data about your behavior to the highest bidder. (We here at Gimlet will never, ever do this. Your data is yours.)

All of this data piles up endlessly. One person aptly compared this data to the radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants. As long as it stays safely contained and no one uses it for evil, it’s safe enough. At some point, however, private data is going to escape its confines and bad things will ensue.

For example: Did you know all of the data in Gimlet is available to the United States government, without a warrant, through a National Security Letter? If we were to receive one of these letters, we wouldn’t even be able to tell anyone except our lawyer. These days, trusting your online data will stay private means trusting the United States government — whoever may be in charge.

We take the custody of your data very seriously, and we know that giving clients this option means someone might accidentally delete something important. At the same time, part of taking care of your data means giving you the power to clean up the sensitive patron data that might slip into your database. Every online service provider should give you this ability. It’s the right thing to do.

See the documentation for more details on how to turn your Data Cleaner on and add a bit of ice from the river Lethe to your Gimlet.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know.

  1. Yes, Facebook knows.

April 18th, 2017  |  Published in Uncategorized

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Gimlet v2 – Development Update

Gimlet #2

Hi everyone,

For the better part of a year, we’ve been hard at work building the next version of Gimlet. Internally, the project has a lot of nicknames — “G2” or “#2” or “Version 2” or “the next Gimlet” — and it is pretty much all I work on outside of customer service and support these days.

Last spring at the Public Library Association conference and last summer on this blog we shared some demonstration screenshots of G2 and we were extremely excited about a design prototype we had created. Since that time we’ve worked to write the actual application code that will power our new design. We are quite a ways toward that goal now, with the hope we can begin testing an early-release of the application with a few select clients very soon (more below).

My ten favorite things Gimlet #2 actually can do today, that Gimlet #1 cannot:

1) Hide the free-hand, tag-entry form
2) Support bulk tag-editing
3) Edit text using Markdown
4) Perform faceted searches
5) Run a date comparison report
6) Download embedded charts as images
7) Perform a three-level, pivot-table report
8) Mobile interface
9) Separate time entry from date entry
10) Highlight search result text matches

SO! Our next steps for Gimlet #2 are to lock down a preview branch of the project and start collecting feedback from current clients. That step will happen later this month (April 2017).

We have already identified a few clients that are interested in helping with this next stage of the process, and we’re extremely grateful for their offer to help. If your library uses Gimlet #1 and you’d like to help us complete Gimlet #2 by previewing your data in the new interface, and providing us feedback, please contact us. We unfortunately don’t have the capacity to offer every current client a preview, but we’ll try hard to help the first handful of clients that reach out.

We’ll be back in touch with additional Gimlet v2 details each week this month. Stay tuned.

Cheers!
– Eric for the Gimlet Team

April 13th, 2017  |  Published in Gimlet #2