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Archive for the ‘On the Horizon’ Category

The next time you login to your Nextpoint account, you may notice some fresh new icons.

Available to existing Nextpoint customer’s, Privilege Protect expands previous document, deposition, and transcript transferring capabilities.  New features and customizations combine to make this the most powerful and convenient document production tool available.  Official public release will be coming in September 2012.

To get started, simply search to isolate documents and select the Privilege Protect icon.

Then configure your transfer.

If the target of your transfer is a 3rd party, additional checks and balances will be made available to ensure safety and sanctity of data.
Some notable options:

  • Selecting a recipient.  Transferring to 3rd party recipients (who are existing Nextpoint clients themselves) requires a PIN be setup and communicated between the 2 parties, not only providing reassurance that you are transferring to the correct recipient, but also that the 3rd party’s privacy is protected.
  • Privilege Detection [Discovery Cloud only].  Privilege Detection compares documents you’ve elected to transfer with those that you have previously identified as privileged and/or have redacted.  A report is generated bringing potential leaks to light, allowing you to double check suspicious documents before they may have been erroneously transferred to a 3rd party.
  • Loadfile Review.  To reassure you that the data transferred will be exactly what you have anticipated – nothing more, nothing less – you are afforded the opportunity to review the actual loadfile that will be used for the transfer.  Search this file for key phrases, email addresses, or anything else that may be a red flag that an undesired document or meatadata would have otherwise been transferred.
  • “Smart Override” for native document transfer.  Blocking documents that are privileged from production is critical, but what if a native email (which is not itself marked as privileged) were transferred – containing the data necessary to re-create a privileged Word Doc that had been an attachment?  Smart override works to detect this situation and prevent transmission, instead opting to transfer images of the document in question.

Nextpoint Privilege Protect is available now to existing Nextpoint customers, allowing you to produce without ever leaving our toolset.  No harddrives to inventory and worry about going astray in the mail.  We hope you get a lot of benefit and use out of this tool and look forward to hearing your feedback.

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Very soon we’ll be releasing a streamlined interface for browsing your documents we’re calling “Grid View.”

Sample grid view

Grid view

Grid View is going to be great, as it lets you get an overview of your documents in a more compact, easy to scan package — similar to how you can easily scan for information contained in a spreadsheet. Lining your documents’ data up like this makes it much easier to intuitively sort and browse too, so you can find just the data you need more effectively.

Don’t worry if you’ve grown attached to the older interface either, when Grid View launches you’ll find a link to “Classic View” prominently displayed at the top of any listing of documents in the application. If you do decide to use Classic View, we’ll remember and keep giving you your documents in the older style, no configuration necessary.

Look for Grid View to be released to all Trial Cloud and Discovery Cloud customers in the very near future soon.

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As we announced earlier, our newest release had many behind-the-scenes changes in addition to the new user facing features. This post will deliver a more technical look at what’s going on under the covers.

Rails Upgrade

Nextpoint relies on multiple frameworks and technologies but at the heart of our user facing site is Ruby on Rails.  One of the most major behind-the-scenes changes in this release is our upgrade to Rails 2.1.

Partial Updates

One of the features we were most looking forward to in the newest version of Rails unfortunately fell completely flat for us: Partial Updates (and to some extent “Dirty Objects”).  First reading about this functionality, it really sounded appealing: don’t spend (even minuscule amounts of) time saving data that hasn’t actually been changed.  In practice though, the implementation seems pretty impractical for most non-trivial applications and for existing applications: I can’t imagine trying to retrofit (and maintain!).  Unfortunately, we quickly came to the conclusion that we just need to “turn this stuff off”.

XML Handling

XML handling took a couple steps in the right direction for Rails 2.  The change to start flagging null values, instead of just leaving them “blank”, caused a couple hiccups but will come in handy in the long run.  And a bug fix to a pesky regular expression error in the framework (that we had fixed ourselves previously) will make for one less monkeypatch in our codebase.  (Bad regular expressions can really add up when you deal in the volume that we do!)

Eager Loading

Changes to eager loading gave us a bit of trouble as statements that used to result in :include items being joined right into a single large query now (may) result in several smaller statements.

Does it make queries more efficient?  Probably.

Does it increase db traffic?  Probably.

Is it a bad thing?  Probably Not (overall).

Is it a bad thing that stuff that worked before doesn’t?  Yeah, that’s annoying.

Our specific problem is on an association defined with a :select => “distinct labels.*”.  We played around a bit with potential changes down in the AR guts but in the end (unfortunately), ended up basically tricking it into running it as a single statement.  It’s not at all difficult to make it happen but it’s also not straightforward – and it stinks when the framework makes you write a big comment.

Search Changes

Search is at the core of our product and we want (almost) every release to make that experience better.  We’ve added designation labels and issues to our transcripts and depositions search indexes, providing users with the ability to search those sections of the applications for them.  We love to see our users submitting really detailed search queries – getting straight to the data that they need to get their job done instead of forcing them down the road of an endless stream of links that never quite get the job done.

Ajaxy Goodness

We’re big believers in the “right tool for the right job” mantra.  We actively try to avoid throwing in flashy javascript features just for their own sake, but sometimes it just plain makes the process much more useful.  To that end, we have a couple new/reworked ajax features that we really like.

The most obvious is the new version of our “case selector”.  Instead of waiting for a new page containing all your cases in alpha order – we’ve made changes to get people to their cases faster.  The list now drops down with most recent cases accessed first.  If you need to get something you haven’t been to in a while, those are there in the select box but for the most part: you’re really only working in a couple cases at once (at most).

In this initial implementation the dropdown is actually populated post-rendering of the requested page to avoid slowing down the “real” request.  In future releases we might find ourselves not actually rending the drop until you request it.  This would mean a (quite short) wait when you want to switch cases, but it would eliminate the extra work we’re doing on each request.

The most useful ajax implementation in this release is probably in our designation editor.  We’ve always had the ability to designate by clicking on a preview window (click the line of text for the beginning – click the line for the end, etc).  This release improves on that by tying the “edit box” to the “preview” window more directly and reworking the way that ajax is being used in the background.  Page elements will only be re-rendered when absolutely necessary (this page carries ~6 individual components).  This allows for smaller requests/responses and relieves the burden of constantly re-rendering elements “to their previous state”.

User Experience

Nextpoint prides itself on providing an application that is easy to use.  We have a great UX process and each release brings big improvements.  This release includes the changes mentioned in the section above, new images and branding, cleaner interfaces and cleared up real estate issues.  We’ve also provided more cross-product integration, making it easier (for example) to find something via the primary Search product and quickly be editing in the Transcripts section.

Refactoring

As with any major production system, we always have a list of places that we’d like to cleanup and consolidate when we get the chance.  This release gave us the chance to remove some deprecated code and rename some elements that have been re-tasked.  This improves our development environment, making future releases more straightforward for our software engineers and thus making new feature delivery more efficient.

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We’re pleased to announce our next release is scheduled for Monday 8/12, 11PM CDT – Tuesday 8/13, 3AM CDT. As always: no upgrades or changes are needed on your end. When the system comes back up, all clients will immediately have access to the new functionality.

Case Selector

We’ve streamlined the process of getting into your case in a couple ways that really improve the experience.

  • When you get to work you normally want to continue where you left off last night, so why make you choose a case when you login?  From now on: we’ll send you to where you left off and make it easier to change should you need to.
  • Our handy new case selector allows you to see all the cases you have available and switch between them quickly and easily.

Search

As you know, we consider searching to be at the core of our product.  Even when we set out to do a release that has nothing to do with searching, we can’t help ourselves:  There’s always got to be some improvements.  We’re introducing a couple new features to improve the experience.

  • Search by issue or designation label/objection.  This functionality had available in documents but will now be available for transcripts and depositions as well.  We’ve updated Advanced Search accordingly, moving the “Search by label” option out of the documents-only section and up into the general options.
  • Related Results.  In addition to finding related files, blog posts, and events our “Related Results” section will now also return matching issues and/or designation labels/objections.

Finding Depositions and Transcripts

Links have been added to quickly search alphabetically or by designation label/issue.

Designating Depositions and Transcripts

We’ve dramatically cleaned up our designations interface.  The (potentially quite long) list of all designation labels and issues has been replaced by the ability to select a particular item to view the current designations.  Items marked with asterisk are already applied to the current deposition/transcript.

The designation add/edit/import tool has been tied more directly to the viewer window itself and now sits directly above it.  This should streamline the process and make it a bit more intuitive.

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Whether you’re managing millions or “only” thousands of documents one thing is for certain: It’s all about the search. Nextpoint continues to invest in that belief with the introduction of “Advanced Search” (to be released in the next week).

Our new Advanced Search tool will guide you through the process of building more powerful queries while simultaneously providing you with the know-how to build the queries in the “standard” search box.

Advanced Search

We’ve further enhanced search capabilities inside specific sections (Documents, Depositions, Transcripts). Section-specific Advanced Search will be available as well as the ability to transfer results between ‘Search’ and the specific sections.

Of course, as with any enhancements to your Nextpoint software there’s no waiting for your IT department to install patches and upgrade components. Just check back early next week and the functionality will be there waiting for you to try it out!

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We’re gearing up to release a simplified and fast mobile interface for Nextpoint. Users will be able to search all of their evidence and send selected documents and/or transcripts directly to their mobile inbox. Once it’s released just point your mobile browser at Nextpoint and you’ll be ready to go… no installations or configurations necessary. Our primary focus was on the Blackberry and iPhone devices, but you’ll be in great shape on Windows Mobile or any device with the Opera Mobile browser. Keep your eye out for the official release of the Nextpoint mobile interface and in the mean time checkout this iPhone demo.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from vimeo.com posted with vodpod

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Lately we’ve taken a bit of a step back to look at how we can streamline Nextpoint to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want: A tool that is incredibly good at helping you organize and prepare your evidence.

The most important step in your preparation is gathering up all the pertinent data in one place. It’s Search. Find what I want. A simple idea with a very tough implementation, but it just so happens to be our specialty. Nextpoint has always had search at it’s core: The tool was built from our belief that your evidence should never be more than a couple keywords away.

Look for our ever-present behind-the-scenes focus on search to be brought forward and granted some key real estate in the coming months. We will make searches easier to conduct while also improving the way that you work with results.

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