Fastcase Announces New ‘Tellus’ Release – Welcome Home
We are excited to announce the latest release of the legal research platform from Fastcase — Tellus. Welcome Home.
When we began Fastcase 7, we had a vision, represented by the names we’ve chosen for our releases. Our first major release, Mercury, introduced Fastcase 7 to the wider world. Like the planet that bears its name, Mercury represented small victories, while also preparing for large asteroid hits. We received both. We took all the feedback we received (both positive and negative), polished many features, overhauled our search algorithm, added expert witness profiles, improved bad law bot, and more.
Next, the Venus release (like the planet that bears its name) was rather hot and under some pressure. Our users told us what they liked and disliked. That feedback improved, but our users continued to suggest many improvements, which we have incorporated.
In this release, Tellus, we want users to feel like they are back on Earth. What did we change?
User Interface Changes
New Homepage. Where the prior homepage contained large blocks, the newest homepage has been streamlined and polished. Users see a large Fastcase logo and a prominent search bar. Below the Search Bar are four large icons that replicate the old boxes’ information, now more readable and less distracting.
Quickly choose Jurisdictions and Sources. Among Tellus’ biggest changes is choosing jurisdictions and sources. Previously, jurisdictions were chosen from a small dropdown near the search bar; in this release, that window is expanded and better organized. By clicking on Jurisdiction & Sources, start typing to filter the available jurisdictions, which makes selecting each jurisdiction/source easier. After each jurisdiction/source is clicked, it is immediately added to the Current Sources bar (located just under the search bar). You can also do the following:
- X icon: Clear the selected jurisdiction
- ☆ icon: Save the current scope
- 🖉 icon: Edit the current scope
This same window is also available anytime by clicking on the Jurisdiction & Sources button near the search bar at the top of the page.
Quickly refine searches. Beyond choosing a jurisdiction, users often want to easily filter their results by category. This is now easier with a completely redesigned and improved left-hand panel called Refine Search. Previously, users selected different document types from dropdown menus, which took additional time and effort; with Tellus, we took the same filtering process for selecting a jurisdiction, replicating it for filtering results. Now users can use the left panel to either:
- Browse through jurisdictions and sources, or
- Filter (by typing) to find all documents related to a particular jurisdiction/source.
Date Range. To further refine searches, users can look at the bottom-left corner of the Refine Search panel to more-easily set the Date Range.
Suggested Terms. Below the Date Range filter, we have improved the popular Tag Cloud feature. Users can still see terms related to their query graphically in the Tag Cloud. We’ve also added an option for users to see those terms as a simple list, with the most-correlated suggested terms at the top. From there, users can use those terms to improve their keyword search: either (1) adding each term or (2) excluding each term.
Search results. Another of Tellus’s changes is improved search results. Relevant information is now provided in easily scanned and sorted columns. Important information can now be scanned at a glance. To the left, users can act on a search result by using several icons:
- ⚐ = Check the citator (“Authority Check”)
- 🖨 = Add the document to a print queue
- ☆ = Add the document to Favorites
Underneath the icons is the result’s relevance score, based on the user’s search query. To the right of the case name and a snippet (showing relevant excerpts) are several columns:
- The date that the document was published.
- Number of citations to that case by other cases in the entire database.
- Number of citations to that case by other cases in the current results.
At the top of the list, you can sort the results by clicking on each column heading.
Beyond these major improvements, Fastcase has also honed “the little things.” We constantly seek to improve even the smallest design elements and functionality — by diligently addressing user complaints and suggestions. Here are a few of those changes:
- Improving the Bad Law Bot Results.
- Providing more-relevant briefs, pleadings, and filings — along with contextual snippets.
- Improving tooltips to better reflect each icon’s function.
- Ensuring that each icon is logically placed.
Sometimes it’s the big things that count; other times it’s the little things. At Fastcase, we do both.
Additional detail and descriptions
– New Jurisdiction & Source Menu, expediting selection/changes of search scope.
– New Facets allow easier refining of the search scope, jurisdiction editing, and quantifying of the number of results in each category.
– New Library – Florida Legal Malpractice Law library added.
- Opening links in new tabs. Clicking on links using CTRL+Click (or right-clicking “Open in New Tab”) now properly opens the document in a new browser tab.
- Bad Law Bot now shows negative treatment at the top.
- Document Icons Menu now better scales for smaller screens, no longer hidden behind a hamburger menu (☰), but are always displayed.
- Error messages corrected to be more helpful.
- Interactive Timeline now displays without requiring user mouse movement.
- Loading Spinners are no longer displayed slightly off from the Icons.
- Better Typeahead hover behavior. When hovering over Typeahead suggestions, the suggested results no longer jump over to the right.
- Fixed Chrome Autocomplete, which previously covered Typeahead suggestions and other results. This has been fixed site-wide.
- Added Icons to Scope Bar, permitting users to more-easily Remove and Edit the current scope.
- Results List Grid permits (1) easier scanning and (2) quicker sorting.
- Suggested Terms and Tag Cloud. The previous Tag Cloud feature can now be displayed in a list format, permitting users to quickly change their search query to (1) add that term or (2) exclude that term.
- Browse Tooltip now reads “View an outline of primary and secondary materials.”