ECCO Part II: for better or for worse?

ECCO Part II, a new version of Eighteenth Century Collections Online was released earlier this year. It has everything that was in ECCO, plus nearly fifty thousand additional titles and a new interface. One of the great additions for this group for instance is the two volumes of the first edition (1755) of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (in folio). This all sounds great, but it seems that not everything is improved.
The new interface is more ‘dressed up’ than the old ECCO interface, which was admittedly plain. The search menus look a little different, but haven’t really changed. What is good about the list of search results is that the contents that have been added in ECCO 2 are clearly marked (see picture).

However, what would have been a very useful option is not there: the ability to search or browse the contents of the additions separately from what was already there. Those who have been working with ECCO for some time, know what its relevant contents are and may only want to know what is new. What I would at least like to see is an checkable option-box to limit the search to the additions in ECCO 2.

The most serious problem I have encountered in ECCO 2 is the inconsistency of the results when using the same search terms. I take again the example of the 1755 first edition of Johnson’s folio Dictionary, which should be found using the search terms "samuel johnson" in author AND "dictionary" in title, but this combination does not always yield the desired result (the undesired result is actually no results at all).

page display & download
At first usage, it seems as though there are no hyperlinks for the image numbers the page displaying the document. They are there but are not underlined and colored anymore.

ECCO 2 still has the option to hotlink any search result or document page, but a great improvement is that it is possible to download up to 250 pages at once (this was a maximum of 50 pages) which makes it possible to download many titles in one go.

in-document search
One of the other main drawbacks of ECCO 2 appears to be that full-text phrase searches do not work in combination with author and title keywords anymore. This is despite the fact that the use of double quoation marks is given as a hint in the advanced search menu. It also happens too often that a long error message screen appears when you use the full-text search on the page of a work. Also, the option to jump to a page by entering the page number does not seem to work with all titles, even if it does have page numbers. Jumping to image numbers appears unaffected by this problem.

All in all, ECCO 2 has its pros and cons. However, it can and still needs improving by the feedback of its users.

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  1. Lyda

    yes, I think Robin is right: accessing ECCO from the UofToronto gives different results than from UofLeiden :-/

  2. Ingrid Tieken - Boon Van Ostade

    I’d like to know how to get into ECCO 2: yesterday, I searched for the first edition of Johnson’s dictionary, and only got access to the second. I posted an earlier query about a new copy of Baker’s Reflections on the English Language that was added to ECCO 2, but could not repeat the search (search for Baker in this weblog for my query).

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