Conducting a CD-ROM Search
CD-ROM databases are designed in such a way that the end-user may search them without much difficulty. Many CD-ROM products offer interfaces, which enable both the novice as well as the expert user to conduct the search with ease. Retrieval facilities, generally available with any information retrieval system such as Boolean logic, truncation, product field specific searching, etc. are also provided in most of the software used for the retrieval in CD-ROM databases. The special feature of CD-ROM is the interface dialogue design.
The retrieval software is the most important component as far as presentation of data to the user is concerned. It is supplied by the producer of individual CD-ROM product and different producers use different retrieval software. Some producers include the retrieval software on a separate floppy disk while others put it on the CD-ROM disc itself and increasingly, this is the preferred option.
The software vary in their approach to searching and displaying data. A number of traditional text retrieval packages have been adapted for CD-ROM products, examples are BRS-Search, Battelle's Basis and Status from Harwell Computer Power. However, in their standard from, such packages often do not provide the special features needed for retrieval from CD-ROM, therefore, purpose written software is being produced and used.
From the very initial stages, CD-ROM retrieval has addressed the non-expert user. Most products rely heavily on menus and screen prompting with windows and colour being employed to differentiate parts of the screen. Context specific help called up from a certain key has also been a feature. However, working through menus can become a chore when the user becomes more familiar with the system. Some CD-ROM disc producers have recognized this and are now providing different types of search interface with short cuts to expert users. Installation software are also be supplied by the product producers.