Michie's Virginia Law on Disc

By Griffith, Cary | Information Today, April 1992 | Go to article overview

Michie's Virginia Law on Disc


Griffith, Cary, Information Today


Question: What do the following titles have in common?

The Virginia State Constitution

The U.S. Constitution

The Virginia Code

The Virginia Supreme Court Rules

The Virginia Court of Appeals Decisions (July 1985 - date)

The Virginia Supreme Court Decisions (January 1925 - date)

Answer: They can all be found on one CD-ROM disc.

The Michie Company (a subsidiary of Mead Data Central, Inc., the producers of Lexis/Nexis) has been a law book publisher since 1855. Today they publish legal treatises, agency publications, law school texts, the codes from approximately twenty-two states, and other legal materials. They are also beginning to explore the growing market of legal-specific CD-ROM publications.

Michie's Virginia Law on Disc is one of four CD-ROM titles the company is starting to offer. Like other offerings in the legal CD-ROM marketplace, Michie's product is characterized by its ease of installation and use, and the amount of information it stores on a single disc.

According to its documentation, Virginia Law on Disc requires a CD-ROM drive, at least DOS 3.0, 640K of installed RAM, with at least 450K of free memory. Almost all PC owners in the market today can comply with these requirements. But potential users are well advised to acquire high-end hardware in order to use this and other CD-ROM products.

One of the advantages of CD-ROM products is the amount of information that can be stored on a single disc. One of the disadvantages can sometimes be the speed at which that information can be searched. High-end hardware, in the form of 80386- or 80486-based PCs, and high speed CD-ROM drives, can often ameliorate the search speed problem.

The installation process is simple and easy to follow. Basically, the user places Virginia Law on Disc in the CD-ROM player, summons the drive by typing its letter (e.g., D), and presses Enter. With the CD-ROM drive active, the user types INSTALL, presses Enter, and is then walked through a very simple installation process.

New users of Michie's Law on Disc products can learn how to use them with built-in tutorials. The tutorial guides the user through using the fictitious statutes and cases of New Xanadu. The tutorial is executed by entering learned.

The look and feel of the Law on Disc product is very similar to many other Windows-like products. Each screen has a top menu that gives the user several options. For example, the Law on Disc basic menu consists of the following options: File, Edit, Search and Options.

The basic menu items are selected by typing ALT+< the first letter of the menu item>. For example, to activate the File pull-down menu, the user would press the ALT key, and F. The File pull-down menu would then spring into view.

Each of the main menu items comes with an assortment of submenu options. For example, the File menu contains the following options: Open, Save as..., Print..., List files..., Change dir..., Tag, Switch app..., Go to DOS, Close infobase, and Exit. Each of these submenu options can be activated by either using cursor keys to highlight them, or by entering CTRL+.

From this description potential users should recognize a very familiar format. Many of today's Windows- and DOS-based products contain similar pull-down menus. These types of menus are becoming the defacto menuing standard both because they are widely recognized, and because of their obvious ease of use. Their availability in the Law on Disc products facilitates the ease of understanding and using these products.

Searching these products can be accomplished in several different ways. The Law on Disc products enable users to locate relevant information by searching any word, term, section, or combinations of words, terms and sections. Users can also employ hypertext, or link searching to locate relevant information.

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