[KPhotoAlbum] Idea for quick search feature

Shawn Willden shawn-kimdaba at willden.org
Thu Apr 26 14:33:27 BST 2007

On Thursday 26 April 2007 06:38:24 am Risto H. Kurppa wrote:
> I think having a search bar with basic 'search from everywhere, incl.
> all catogories and folder names and descriptions etc' with basic 'and,
> or, +(required), -(without)' would be great. Being able to define more
> specific, like 'people: martin' makes it quite difficult for people to
> understand what's going on. And I don't think one should be able to do
> all the same searches from the search bar as from the search dialog -
> this also means that I don't think KPA should be able to show all
> search syntaxes made from the search dialogue, in the search box.

There are two reasons I'm thinking the more-specific syntax is useful in the 
simple UI:

1.  It provides a nice way to integrate the search bar with the "click to 
find" features.  As Jesper pointed out, my initial proposal to use the 
existing search bar as a quick search creates a UI problem:  What if after 
typing something in the search bar the user then wants to drill down through 
a category?  Does the initial quick search text just disappear so the search 
bar can be used to select a tag from the category?  Does the quick search 
need to be in a separate dialog or a separate edit line?  After the user has 
picked a tag to drill into, what does the search bar show?  Or do we simply 
disallow combining drill-down searches with quick searches?  By allowing the 
click-to-find features to just generate additional elements in the search 
text, all of these issues are resolved quite cleanly.

2.  I can see advanced users (like me!) liking the ability to type specific 
queries, rather than clicking through the layers of categories, or pulling up 
the advanced search.

Also, I disagree that it hurts usability to allow a more general search 
syntax, as long as a simple syntax is supported.  Users who don't want to 
understand the complex syntax can simply ignore it.

This is consistent with Google's search interface, BTW.  Google has a lot of 
advanced search features that are ignored by 99.9% of users.  I think of 
Google's search UI as having the following levels of complexity:

1.  Simple keyword search.  No +/-, no quotes, nothing but a list of keywords.
2.  More specific keyword search.  Users can use +/- and quoting to look for 
specific phrases and exclude certain matches.  They can also use ~ to look 
for synonyms, and boolean operators to connect them.
3.  Advanced search.  Users can apply various operators to make their searches 
very precise, like "site:", "intitle:", "inurl:", "link:", "cache:", etc.

As Google demonstrates, this approach scales very nicely with user 
capabilities.  Although I'm not planning to do it out of the gate, I don't 
see any reason why the search bar *shouldn't* be able to express any query 
expressible in the advanced search dialog.  In fact, from a maintainability 
perspective I see a lot of advantages in ultimately making all queries go 
through the same query language.  If quick searches, drilldown searches, 
advanced searches, etc., all generate query strings that are then evaluated 
by the same engine, then there will be only one search infrastructure to 

Assuming, of course, that the search engine in question doesn't become too 
complex to implement, maintain or execute efficiently.


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