“The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire Web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the Web page’s interactivity, speed, and usability.”
For me, the new Alacra interface is faster and slicker, and a significant improvement. Alacra Store has also been adding resources, previously only available via its annual subscription service, and all search results now display the keyword in context (KWIC). The KWIC feature allows users to see the frequency and context in which search terms appear in the relevant documents.
Free information is listed at the top of the results screen, but you may find that some of the links take you to a screen that lists subscription services. Nevertheless, for public companies the free snapshots provide excellent summaries.
For those of you who have not yet tried Alacra Store, this is a pay-as-you-go version of Alacra’s business information subscription service. A list of publishers and information providers is at available on the site at http://tinyurl.com/qt6gl . I initially reviewed Alacra Store in the July/August 2005 Tales from the Terminal Room (http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/archives/2005/jul2005.shtml). I am pleased to see that more resources are continually being added but still feel that the news articles are overpriced (now USD 10 an article). I also see that Bun & Bradstreet reports are now available, but at USD 288 they are grossly overpriced if you are looking at private companies. This is not the fault of Alacra: I have seen the same reports at the same price offered via other services, but in my experience they do not offer any information that is not available from other providers at a lower and more reasonable price.
If you are exploring industry sectors, try out out the links at the bottom of the web pages to the public and private company indexes. These are sorted by industry sector and are a quick and easy way of identifying the major companies that are active in a particular sector. There is, though, a problem with the way that they are indexed. I was initially surprised that I could not find the Russian company Gazprom, especially as a keyword search found numerous documents. I then realised that the full name of the company is OAO Gazprom and that it is listed under O and not G. A little more work on the company index is needed, I think, to take into account that many end users will not always know the full legal name of a company.
Overall, highly recommended for anyone requiring pay as you go access to business information.