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Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:08 pm
Judging by comments on the RCTS Library email site a number of people are having difficulty accessing the digital RO.

We have been upgrading the accessibility and the medium used to provide the Digital RO over the past couple of months but - assuming you are a fully paid up RCTS Society member- you should get access to the latest version using the following process :-

* First of all you need to register for access to the Members area of the website.
* Then go to the Members area and select 'THE RAILWAY OBSERVER 2014' option.
* The response page offers three options. I suggest you click on the green box with the title E-mag.
* This will take you directly to the latest Digital RO. This is what we call the Pagesuite version ( after the company which provides it).
* If you wish to view an earlier copy of the RO, by clicking the Archive tab on the left hand side you will see all available digital versions of the magazine and you can select as appropriate.
* Having once selected a particular edition, you can then, if you wish, use the PDF Icon at the top of the screen to download that copy of the RO - or selected pages from it - to your local device.

Currently, as an alternative, on the members page you can click on the relevant cover for the issue you wish to view or its associated PDF. However this option will disappear by the end of 2014 when I hope everything, including PDF only access, will be concentrated on the Pagesuite Emag version using the process outlined above.

As regular users will be aware we have made much progress with the digital RO offer over the past year and believe we have now reached the stage at which all current electronic readers are being supported. We are however still adapting some of the background systems and web links to smooth this process and it is possible that there may be further changes in presentation and access methodology as the months pass. As all of this is being done by a few volunteers there may be occasional delays in fully achieving the strategy. However it is my intention to communicate such changes using both the Forum and the RO. However such notification will for obvious reasons take place much earlier via the Forum than in the RO so if you have difficulty just check out this forum topic for a possible message.

I trust you find this useful and look forward to hearing via the forum of your experiences in using the system.


Mike Robinson

Managing Editor, Railway Observer

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:21 pm
by B.J.Hemming
I regularly read the PDF version of RO off line. How does one do this when the PDF files are no longer available?

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:47 pm

Regrettably, in relation to a number of points made on the library email group about member consultation in new RO developments, the effectiveness and indeed practicability of member involvement when new developments are being launched is extremely limited. In the two years since we launched a very much better digital product than the Yahoo PDF ever offered, I as Editor, and so far as I know no other members of the MC, have received anything other than positive comments about our growing digital initiative.

This is not a surprise. Several times since taking over the editorial role, I have, through the RO, invited member responses on a number of issues and with one or two exceptions the result has been a deafening silence! Unlike in business where one can actively seek out expert users when developing specialist systems and products, this is not practicable in a volunteer society where, other than with direct personal knowledge of a very few individuals, we have no awareness of the particular skills and capabilities of our 2,500 or so members.

What members receive monthly as either a printed or digital RO is the culmination of around 140 hours of volunteer effort involving a team of around 40 people, and, which assuming sufficient workers with the relevant knowledge could be recruited, would cost the Society around ?4,000 per month in the professional world.

Members will therefore understand why, if we are to progress new initiatives such as the digital RO at anything like an acceptable speed, those of us involved in such developments need to take them forward using our best technical, commercial and 'member awareness/market' judgement on a controlled 'suck it and see' basis. This has certainly been true in our evolution of the printed RO over the past three years and is also true of both the digital RO development and the forthcoming WEB4 development communicated at the members weekend.

Far from, as one commentator put it - 'the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.....' , the volunteer team taking these developments forward is dispersed around the UK, communicates by email and occasionally phone, rarely because of cost and logistical reasons has face to face meetings, and above all have many other pressing demands on their personal time other than the RCTS.

Development is therefore undertaken by the individuals responsible for each stage as soon as they have time to properly focus on the RCTS need. An current example of this is the fact that as a result of development requirements I raised a couple of days ago, our extremely busily worked webmaster has already responded by implementing the new, slicker web front end required for digital RO web access - the prospect of which I raised on the Forum a couple of days ago, and which will also be noted in the January edition of the RO.

Those of you who have used the Forum will know that a specific topic - 'Railway Observer Channel ' - enables all members to express their views on the RO and enables the editorial team to advise what is happening. Including this on the Forum provides a platform for all RCTS members - not just those who have elected to join the Library email group - to share in and contribute to the development dialogue.

I shall also be including this email on the Forum later tonight as part of the 'Access to Digital RO' topic.

I trust this reassures you all that in taking forward both the digital and printed RO, we do indeed have your interests at heart, and whilst we can't always tailor the RO to the specific needs of every individual we will do our best to provide a high quality magazine which meets the broad needs of a diverse membership, and which, with digital, is delivered more quickly in a more convenient format which can also be flexed in size to meet the needs of those with eyesight difficulties.


Mike Robinson
Managing Editor - Railway Observer


Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:08 pm
by D3796
B.J.Hemming wrote:I regularly read the PDF version of RO off line. How does one do this when the PDF files are no longer available?
Same here, I use a Galaxy Tab S, the PDF files are fantastic resolution.

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:09 pm
by lackwitbumpkin
I've just had a go at downloading the RO and I have to say that the development team have done a superb job. I was greatly impressed as it's the December RO which will still be a few days coming by post.

I had to change my password, which I wasn't expecting but other than that it was straightforward. I firstly tried reading on line and that was OK. By zooming in or moving on screen buttons I got clearer text or large text which would aid anyone with less than perfect vision (I wear glasses). On normal view the text appeared slightly fuzzy but I imagine that moving the screen angle would sort that out. I didn't want to move the screen as It's set for a specific job I'm working on. Also the pictures were not as clear as seeing then in the RO but again I guess it's more to do with the screen.

I then had a go at downloading the RO as a pdf file. Interestingly one can select individual pages or everything. I had expected the download to be a complete file of the RO without a choice of pages. Can't see why it should be like this but no-one can say they weren't given a choice! I chose everything and after a minute or so the file had been prepared and after renaming it I then downloaded the file.

Taking Mike's point about the difficulties and various requirements preventing a detailed implementation communication to the members I can empathise with the position taken. I'm involved with a group who want to deliver certain objectives. If we ask the membership we'll end up with a huge list of wants and end up delivering nothing. We've had to restrict ourselves to delivering those items that we can deliver easily, with a volunteer team dispersed nationally, and giving the greatest benefit to the largest number of members.

All in all this is a great step forward. No doubt there will be little tweaks required but this is something long overdue. I'm sure that a number of older members won't like the change but we need to move on. As long as we continue to offer the RO in printed format all should be happy. Myself, I prefer to have the printed RO as I'm not a great lover of reading on-line, and the posted version is paying my pension!

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:47 pm
by windsor_lad
I have had a go at downloading the December RO today and despite my original scepticism have found it easy to download and read. And you can save as a .pdf if you wish. If I can manage it then anyone can.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved with its introduction - we can still say that we are Britain's Leading Railway Society, in this respect we are leading.
I will have to buy an iPad though to take full advantage of this development though.

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:25 am
by etr220
Posting here what posted on the RCTSlibrary Yahoo group, as a reply to Mike's post there of his opening post on this topic:

There are - as I see it - a number of problems or issues.

Firstly, looking at Mike's post below, it is now out of date: 'THE RAILWAY OBSERVER 2014' option has gone from the main Members' page of the website (with no visible comment), together its associated page giving a choice between going to the E-mag (Page suite) and PDF versions (with the ability to just download the pdf for offline reading).

Secondly, there is an issue in that the replacement option on the main members' page "The Railway Observer
Current issue and archive" leads to a page (sic) which just sits there as blank - for whatever reason pagesuite is not working to display anything.
But removing the "https://" at the front (to give (sic)) lets it spring into life - and this is the address used if you click The Railway Observer sub option of Members on the main website menu bar - you go straight into the latest issue. (this I think is just a technical issue, probably quite easilly fixed)

Thirdly, many of us like (and prefer) a pdf version, rightly or wrongly - it provides for offline reading, or storage, in a way that the pagesuite version doesn't (natively), and for us removal of the ability to directly download the pdf (under a meaningful name) is a major worsening of the situation. The presence of an icon (which many have obviously not found intuitive) to build (taking what seems an age) and then download a pdf with a random, meaningless name cannot be regarded a really saisfactory alternative.

And, finally, there is issue over the Forum as a means of disseminating news - it is a noticeboard that you have to go into see what's there - and then (as it is currently set) distinguish what is new and relevant to read.

It is always difficult, when offered something 'new and improved' to realise whether there are disadvantages (and what they might be).

Another thing that must not be forgotten is that many members are technically challenged - they can do what they know, but can be totally flummoxed by sudden, unannounced changes of the sort we have had recently.

But at this point I must express my appreciation for all the efforts put in by the Editor (and his team), and the Web team, in producing and making available the excellent (and improving) publication that the Railway Observer is. All we want to do is (easily) access and read it! (If we can't, all those efforts are wasted).


Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:57 am
by D3796
I am undecided on Digital / Printed version of Railway Observer and have yet to renew my subscription. Before the current changes I was all for the Digital Version, however I see that previous download issues are currently unavailable and there's talk of dropping PDF support. The proposed system of creating your own PDF files seems a bit long winded. Can we please have confirmation that a downloadable PDF will be made available (as before) for the foreseeable future? Will previous issues of RO also return for download?

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:32 pm
by pdeaves
D3796 wrote:Will previous issues of RO also return for download?
Previous PDFs are available. Go to the RO page <>, then on the left is 'archive'. This brings up the list of all the previous issues available.

Re: Access to the Digital RO

Posted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 5:10 pm
by D3796
pdeaves wrote:
D3796 wrote:Will previous issues of RO also return for download?
Previous PDFs are available. Go to the RO page <>, then on the left is 'archive'. This brings up the list of all the previous issues available.
Thanks for the reply. The problem with pagesuite is that you have to compile the pdf and then rename it before downloading; a retrograde step in comparison to just clicking on downliad pdf.