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The following section contains subjective comments about the system that represent our editor's opinions, and should not be viewed as fact. Editor's opinions include positive and negative judgments about the product written in consideration of wider context, including related products and the industry at large. Further subjective information is presented in clearly labeled "Editor's Notes" throughout the report.
One feature that notably aids usability is the so-called "Breadcrumb" navigation tool. This tool allows easy forward and backward navigation through the Thomson Innovation interface. The searcher can use the Back and Forward arrows to retrace his or her previous steps. Between the Backward and Forward arrows is a drop-down menu allowing the user to skip directly to a previously visited screen.
The Citation mapping and Charting functions, while impressive looking and ultimately useful, aren’t as intuitive as some of the more basic features and may require some experimentation on the part of the user and/or a read through the Thomson Innovation Help file. Also, sometimes when creating more complex charts, the system can take a noticeably long time to compile/load.
One less intuitive component of the tool is the saved work interface. For example, the presence of both an active search history (under the Search tab) and a saved search history folder could confuse novice users.
Fortunately, Thomson Reuters has produced ample in-system help materials to help users understand the interface and how it should be used. A very detailed help file containing step-by-step instructions, explanations and screenshots of all the different features is available to provide assistance to both new and experienced users of Innovation. Thomson Reuters also deserves praise for keeping their very in-depth documentation up-to-date, and making it easy to navigate - the index is both searchable and browseable.
A recent update to the interface in the fall of 2011 added additional user-friendly tools that facilitate quicker patent searching and viewing, such as the numbered step functionality that guides users through the use of complicated search features and the Quick View option for the Record View. The Quick View option and "Mark and Next" tool are particularly useful for facilitating quicker browsing through large record sets. Users can mark relevant records and move on to the next record in a single click through the "Mark and Next" feature, which will save time for patent searchers reviewing large sets of data.