[ This post is authored by David Dorman, US Marketing Manager for Index Data. David responded to an email I sent to marketing contacts at commercial and open source providers of federated search products and services asking them to engage in my campaign to create publicly accessible demo applications with identical connectors to facilitate customer evaluation of offerings. With David's permission I am publishing his response in its entirety. I will post my response to his letter in the near future. David's reference in the first paragraph to the "Metasearch Smackdown" is to this Library Journal blog post by Roy Tennant. David can be reached through the contact information for Index Data provided in this blog's vendor information page. ]


I’ve looked over the points of the metasearch comparison campaign and it seems like something Index Data would like to explore participating in. Have the databases been selected yet? I do, however, have some reservations about two assumptions that you and Roy seem to be making with the Metasearch Smackdown idea.

1. One is that each vendor has a “product” that can be compared to all the other vendor’s “products.”

This is not a valid assumption for Index Data’s metasearch offerings. It is true that our basic MasterKey hosted service is a product that can be compared to the other vendors offerings. However, Index Data offers to customize or extend the functionality of the MasterKey interface to meet any clients requirements if MasterKey does not already meet them. This business practice will not be apparent in any use test.

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Paula Hane, Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks, published a nice in-depth article about the acquisition of WebFeat by ProQuest. Aside from the ProQuest press release, Library Journal’s coverage of the story, and my own article, there hasn’t been tremendous coverage of the acquisition. Hane’s article adds some detail. Also, Carl Grant, President of CARE Affiliates, expresses his view of the acquisition in light of the OpenTranslators partnership that involves WebFeat, CARE, and Index Data.

Of particular interest, Hane reported the reactions of a number of people who were knowledgeable about the federated search industry, including Marshall Breeding, Frank Cervone, Cheryl LaGuardia, and myself. The four viewpoints (at the end of the article) of what the acquisition means for the industry are quite valuable.

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Yesterday, CARE Affiliates issued a press release announcing a new product offering. A snippet of the announcement is this:

CARE Affiliates announced a new product, in conjunction with its strategic partners, Index Data and WebFeat, called OpenTranslators. OpenTranslators is intended to reshape the way libraries select and use federated search and metasearch technology. OpenTranslators will allow libraries to use the federated search interface of their choice to access over 10,000 databases using SRU/SRW/Z39.50.

I have lots of questions about the offering but here is what is clear. CARE is a company in the business of providing products and services to libraries and information centers based on open source software. Index Data develops, customizes and supports open source information retrieval software, including federated search software. WebFeat is a developer of proprietary federated search software. WebFeat has a large number of translators (connectors to SRU/SRW/Z39.50 databases). CARE, in collaboration with Index Data, has developed a gateway to provide access to these WebFeat translators.

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