As software developers, we strive to keep up with the pace of technology. Just when you start to feel comfortable, everything changes. Like the Encyclopedia Britannica, whose publisher announced last year that it would no longer print the encyclopedia as books. I think how you react to that news depends on your age. My teenage daughter just shrugs. She loves books, but what's an encyclopedia? Is that like Wikipedia? Oh, those books in the library by the computer stations?
For my (ahem) age group, we grew up thinking of encyclopedias as the number one resource when you were assigned a research paper on anything. We didn't have Britannica in my house — it was the Funk & Wagnalls version — but that was where you would start looking for information on your topic. And on a lazy day, you could just page through and find all kinds of interesting things to read about. You might start looking for George Washington, but in the end you would know about Washington state, and wallabies, and wormholes. So with the demise of the printed encyclopedia, I wonder if my children will be missing out on the experience of the book. The experience of stumbling across a topic that you never would have read, but just because you flipped a page and the boldface heading caught your eye, you learned something new.
For Britannica, it was a business decision. That's all. After 244 years of publishing, more people were using the online version. Who wants to pay $1,400 for 32 printed volumes? Who has enough space for that many books? And it is clearly easier to update the online version than to issue a yearbook. This is progress. I suppose that when Gutenberg opened his first press, people didn’t stand around complaining about the change from hand scribed documents to machine printed books. It was a good thing.
It's much the same with software and businesses. We may lament the passing of the old (the comfortable), but we are moving forward today with a new website, new logo, and new product. intertrac R8.5.1 is being piloted right now with a fancy new web interface and improved task-oriented modules. During the product redesign, the development team was particularly concerned with how to incorporate old features that our users love into the new design. We think you’ll find that all of what you love is still there.
I’d like to invite you to share your feedback as we move forward, and to embrace intertrac’s progress. You can tell us that this feature doesn't work the way it used to, we miss the old way, and this could be better. And we will listen. We really will try to make it better. Because we too have to keep moving with the technology or we become obsolete. Like a printed encyclopedia.