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Fastcase Launches Version 7.4 – Code-named “VENUS”

Today Fastcase released another major update to the Fastcase 7 Legal Research Platform. This release is the second in a series of planned changes and fixes intended to get Fastcase 7 out of beta and ready to replace Fastcase 6 as the world’s most innovative legal research system.

The Venus release includes several important new features:

Our State and Federal Outlines have been enhanced to allow you to jump directly from your search results into the Outline View, and to show you at a glance which libraries are part of your current subscription. We’ve also added a whole new document type with Expert Witness Profiles from Courtroom Insight and JurisPro! The Interactive Timeline has been improved to show overturned cases in red, and can now easily be hidden for users that prefer their results in a list. Finally, we’ve completely overhauled the relevance algorithm to give our users the best possible results at the top of the list every time!

These new features only scratch the surface of everything that the Venus release has to offer. Full release notes are below.

This update has a lot of changes, but our reference team stands ready to help adjust to the new features. As always, please never hesitate to contact customer support.

Happy searching!
The Fastcase Team


Fastcase 7.4 – VENUS Release Notes

What’s New

  • Outline Improvements
    • Permission Aware Outlines – The State and Federal Outlines will now indicate which libraries are not part of your current subscription, so that you can see at a glance what options are available to enhance your legal research!
    • Jump to Outline Location – If a document in your search results is part of a code, book or other outlined material, you can now jump straight from the results list to the outline view with a single click to see the surrounding documents in the outline.
      Jump to Outline
  • New Document Type: Expert Witness Profiles – It is now possible to search for and read Expert Witness Profiles on Fastcase! We’ve brought in two fantastic Expert Witness databases.
    • Courtroom Insight – Courtroom Insight’s expert witness directory contains over 100,000 profiles of testifying experts and forensic consultants in every conceivable discipline. Directory profiles are enhanced with professional biographies, performance evaluations and relevant judicial opinions about expert witness testimony. In addition, users may access critical information about published and unpublished legal challenges to expert testimony.
    • JurisPro – Formed by a group of practicing attorneys, JurisPro maintains a free online directory of expert witnesses for the legal community. Through the JurisPro Expert Witness Directory, legal professionals can find and properly retain a qualified expert, evaluate an expert to whom you were referred, or learn information about your opponent’s expert. The entire JurisPro Expert Witness Database is now available for free to all Fastcase users!
  • Search Improvements
    • Relevance Algorithm Overhaul – We have massively improved the way our search engine determines document relevance. The new system allows you to fine tune the way your documents get sorted for each search. You can now favor documents based on all kinds of different properties, from the size of the length of the document to how often it’s printed. There are over a quadrillion different possible configurations, and it’s easy to choose which one is right for you!
      Custom Relevance
    • Permission Aware Searching – The search engine now understands which libraries are part of your subscription and which are not, so you can easily filter out any results that aren’t included ion your subscription!
    • Search by Publisher – Now you can add publishers to your Search Scope from the Matching Libraries list. Instead of adding every library to your Scope individually, it’s now easy to search through all materials by a publisher at the same time.
    • Guided Search – We’ve added a “Search Terms” section to the “Search Options” window. The new section shows you tips on how to write a Boolean search query, and it also hosts our new Guided Search feature! Guided search helps users who are unfamiliar with Boolean Searching by automatically constructing their query step by step.
      Guided Search
    • External Resources in Outline View – Fastcase is an enormous database, but even we can’t always have everything. There are some libraries and resources you might need that we don’t have hosted in our database yet. You can now find links to those outside resources in the Outline view. You can recognize them by the exit icon to their left.
    • All Federal Materials Outline – We’ve added a new outline that lists all of our federal material in a single place, so you can find it even more quickly when you need it!
  • Web Accessibility Improvements
    • Keyboard Navigation and Hotkeys – Fastcase 7 is now entirely navigable without the use of a mouse. In addition, we have enabled a number of keyboard navigation shortcuts to help cut down on navigation time when using a keyboard. These hotkeys are also great for power users that just want to get through their research faster! You can find a list of keyboard shortcuts under Help > Hotkeys.
    • Focus and Hover Indicators – To assist with keyboard navigation and to make the site more readable for users with low visual accuity, we have added clear and bright indicators to show when you are hovering over or selecting an interactive element like a button or link.
    • High Contrast Mode – We now have an optional high-contrast mode for users with color blindness or low visual accuity. To activate it; select the profile button in the top-right corner, then select “Switch to High Contrast”.
      High Contrast Mode
    • ARIA roles and Semantic HTML – Fastcase 7 is now fully screen-reader compatible. Every region, button, input, and heading on the site is tagged both with the relevant HTML5 semantic tag, and the relevant ARIA roles and descriptions.
  • Other New Features
    • Bad Law Bot in the Timeline – The Interactive Timeline now shows which cases are bad law! If we recognize a case as overturned, we will show it in red instead of blue on the Timeline.
      Bad Law in Timeline
    • Date Filtering in the History Views – Now when you are looking through your Search History or Document History, we group all your searches and documents by day, so you can see exactly when you did what. You can also now jump to a specific date range to see what you were doing on that day.
    • Partner Featured Content – Some of our partners provide special content for their members, and wanted a way to help guide their users to that content. If you’re a member of a participating partner, you’ll see a new Featured Content section on the Start screen that will showcase libraries that are particularly relevant for you.
      Featured Content
    • Previous / Next Document Buttons – We’ve added a pair of buttons to the Document View toolbar that let you skip forward and back between documents in your results list. Now you don’t need to scroll the list on the left to find the next document!

What’s Changed

  • Updated Login Screen – The old login screen sometimes ran a little slow, and it looked a bit outdated. The new screen should get you into the application faster and more easily.
  • More Intuitive Document View Icons – We’ve changed some of the icons on the Document View toolbar to make them easier to understand at a glance. Don’t worry – they still do the same things as before.
  • Updated Print Icon – Previously the Print Icon only changed color when a document was added to Print Queue. We now change from an outlined icon to a filled one, so there is now a visual change other than color, in case you are color-blind.
  • Updated Loading Spinners – Branches in Outline VIew and the Matching Libraries list sometimes take a little while to load. We’ve added new spinners to make it clear that the system is still working while they do.
  • Improved “Open in New Tab” Functionality – Now if you open a document in a new tab, it will just open that specific document, rather than loading a second redundant copy of your search results.
  • Timeline Tweaks – Several quality-of-life improvements to the Timeline. It will now tell you how many documents it is showing, and when expanded it will give you the option to set how many documents you want it to show. We’ve also increased the size differentiation on the bubbles to make it more clear which cases are really important.
  • Interactive Timeline Tooltips – We’ve added more information to the tooltips on the Interactive Timeline and made some visual improvements.
  • Hidden Timeline and Tag Cloud – Now if you hide the Timeline or the Tag Cloud they will stay hidden until you expand them again, even if you run more searches.
  • All Emails are now from Fastcase – When sending documents out via email, we would previously set the “from” address to the email of the person using Fastcase. This was confusing some users and causing some emails to go to spam, so we have now changed all emails sent from the platform to have fastcase in the from address.
  • Improved Sorting for State Outlines – The State level Outline View now always shows the most state-specific materials at the top.
  • External Document Links – Some documents hosted on Fastcase contain links to other websites. Those links are now enabled, but you’ll be warned before we send you to a different site.
  • Results List Auto-scroll – Now when you open a document that is in your Results List (either by clicking on it in the Timeline or skipping to the next or previous) the list will auto-scroll to center the document you just opened.
  • Improved Table Formatting – Some tables should look prettier in Document View.
  • Date Range Selection – Setting a date range for your search is now much easier and more intuitive. Just click the start date, then click the end date!
  • Search Scope – Search Scope will no longer scroll if you add too many filters on the Results View. Instead it will show a “see more” link to view all of them.
  • Performance Improvement – We implemented a new web technology that should significantly improve performance. Expect faster load times and a generally snappier feel from the platform.
  • Removable Filters – Filters in your Current Scope can now be removed from scope by clicking them at the top of the screen on the Results View, in addition to removing them by adjusting your filters on the left.
  • Date Range in Scope – We now display your date range in the Scope section if you adjust it, so it’s easier to tell if you’ve filtered by date.
  • Jurisdiction Tooltips – States on the Jurisdiction Selection Map will now show a tooltip with their name.
  • Search Options Shortcut – Pressing “Enter” or “Return” will now run your search from anywhere in the Search Options window.
  • Outline View Visual Improvements – The outline will now make more efficient use of available screen width, and font sizes were adjusted to better distinguish between different levels of the outline.
  • Search Options Visual Improvements – Authority Levels and Document Types were moved to a dual-column format to make it easier to find the right filter. Search Options will now also scale better for some screen sizes.

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