Earlier this week Jybe version 2.0 was released, and tonight I finally got a chance to play with it. I think. See, I haven't had time to line up any co-testers, so I did it all myself through VNC - hosted the session on my work machine, then joined that session from my home machine as a different user. I think it's an authentic experience, but there are still one or two things I want to try out with a real live different tester.
I have to say I'm really pleased with the updates to this version. You may (or may not) recall that when I looked at this back in February it had a major problem in that it wouldn't let people co-browse a database for which one person (or both) needed to authenticate. That seems to have been "fixed".
You won't (based on my testing) be able to let a stranger in to your databases. What happens is that the librarian (on campus in this example) will hit the "enter database" link and go right in (at least on my campus, where the database reads my IP). The remote patron will see the authentication screen. As long as this is a legit remote patron s/he should be able to authenticate as per usual, and then join up with the librarian on the other side. I tested this with an EBSCO, ProQuest and Gale database; they all worked this way. Once the users at both ends have authenticated, all appears to work well. Yay!
Still one problem, though it can be worked around. Jybe only shows one active window, so if the person at either end hits something like a link resolver (SFX) that causes a popup, the other user won't see it. But if you coordinate your text chat you should be able to compensate for that to ensure you're seeing the same thing.
It still bugs me a little that Jybe doesn't notify one end that the other end isn't seeing the same thing. 'Twould also be nice to have a little indication that the other end is madly typing away (the ConVoq ASAP Express product has this feature and I find it really useful).
Personally I also find it annoying to type (chat) and surf the web at the same time, but then again I'm not a big IM user. Pair this up with Skype though, and I'm one happy camper :-) Of course realistically that's now two technologies we'd be expecting our patrons to use. Guess they could use the phone too (assuming they have broadband).
What we need here is a double-ender screencast to show how this works at both ends! Who wants to give it a try?