(Disclaimer: I'm the CEO of Futureproofs so this article is doubtless biased – although it's also entirely honest!)
Regular readers may recall that, a few months ago, Louise wrote an excellent review of Futureproofs.
(For everyone else – Futureproofs is a web-based platform for on-screen proofreading that is designed specifically for publishing workflows. With simple markup based on the BSI or Chicago standards, collaboration to resolve queries and real-time data for project management, Futureproofs aims to provide the tools that editors, proofreaders and authors actually need.)
In her review, Louise praised many aspects of how Futureproofs works (my particular favourite was her description of our markup tools as ‘frankly gorgeous’!) but also had some absolutely legitimate criticisms. There were (and are) plenty of places where we could improve. We've been heads-down improving things in the past few months, so Louise asked me to take a look back and talk about how we've got on since her original review.
This was the major area where Louise thought we needed to improve, and we've done so. From March this year, we've had a completely revamped search tool. The way this works now will be familiar to everyone who uses MS Word or Adobe Reader – every term is highlighted on the page, and you can quickly step from one to the next. This might not seem like a big deal, but doing this for a web interface was a real challenge!
Of course, we've kept the advanced search panel, too, which shows you the full context for every result in the proof. This makes it much easier to identify one particular result among many uses of a word in the book. In addition, we still provide both exact search matches and smart matches to help you find your results as quickly as possible.
Overall, search is vastly better than it was a few months ago and I'm very grateful to Louise (and many other users) who helped us with feedback and advice to get there.
One of Louise's first suggestions for improving Futureproofs was bookmarking, and we've obliged. You can now bookmark any page in the proof within Futureproofs and name it – ideal for cross-referencing with the table of contents or the answer section of a textbook.
These bookmarks are also shared across the team – so, if one person creates the bookmarks, everyone benefits.
In addition to bookmarks, we've introduced a thumbnail-navigation mode to Futureproofs, so you can navigate visually through your book to find a particular page. Especially for books with lots of artworks, this can be a great time-saver.
Also, we've added a 'Jump back' button that returns you to the previous page you were working on. So, if you need to visit the table of contents to check a chapter title, you're just one click away from your previous page and quickly continuing with your proofread. It's a small thing but often useful!
As well as the things that Louise picked out, we've continued to improve in other areas. We now have a comprehensive Maths markup tool, for example, and it's easier than ever to collate a master proof and then to compare this with updated proofs to ensure that all corrections are made.
And we've just released a new way for designers to work within Futureproofs, too – to review corrections on the master proof, to check them off as they're done, and to raise queries about anything that's not clear. We're really excited about this because it supports a full 360º workflow, helping everyone involved to work within Futureproofs.
The bottom line is that we're hugely grateful for all the feedback we get from our users – especially when they point out where we're getting things wrong. We're always looking to improve Futureproofs, and there are several big things coming later this year that could make a real difference. (Let's just say that the poor quality of many ebooks really annoys me!)
John Pettigrew is the CEO & Founder of We Are Futureproofs – a company dedicated to making editors' lives better by creating software that is designed for the jobs they actually do. Before this, he headed up the editorial team for International Education at Cambridge University Press, survived as a freelance editor for six years, and has created both leading print books and acclaimed iPad apps.
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