The next generation of Review writing software
RevMan 5 was designed in a time without tablets and smartphones, where applications were expected to run on regular PC computers with traditional keyboard and mouse set-ups, and where updates were few and far between. Times have changed, as has technology.
Cochrane has always been aware of the need to harness the latest advances in technology and we continue this trend with our latest work on the next generation of review writing software: RevMan Web. This is a new, web-based version of RevMan 5.
RevMan in the browser
Review Manager (RevMan) is the software used for preparing and maintaining Cochrane Reviews; it is currently known to users as a locally installed desktop application. The current RevMan 5 platform, however, is not conducive to regular and comprehensive software updates. In the past, some fundamental changes have had to be held back due to the restrictions of this particular model. These challenges will be addressed by moving to a browser-based system.
Moving RevMan to the browser allows smaller, iterative releases, with little interruption or intrusion to the user. The new, browser-based version of RevMan will work across all platforms, using familiar consumer software, such as Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers. It will be installation-free and automatically updated, much like its sister software, Archie.
Better work process and better user interface
We are moving away from a document-centric tool towards a tool with the study as the key data element. The new software will recognize that there are several steps involved in creating a review other than writing up the text, that many of these tasks currently take place in separate tools, and that review data may be used in contexts other than a traditional journal article. We aim to support a better work process by making the tools more task-driven and link and integrate with more Cochrane and partner software, such as the CRS, and Covidence. We are also working to improve and modernise the RevMan workspace and user interface, making it a more intuitive and enjoyable user experience.
We recognise that no user will always be fully connected to the internet. Even those with highly developed infrastructures may, for example, still wish to work on a train, requiring offline functionality. The technologies to allow use of a browser-based system whilst offline have now matured, and we will be exploring these in detail and incorporating them into our work on RevMan Web.
The Future of Review Production
A new, web-based version of RevMan fits perfectly into Cochrane’s vision of the ‘Future of Review Production’ where it will become one of the central tools together with CRS Online, Covidence, EPPI-Reviewer and Archie.