Forum now provides searching by word sequences

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rjlittlefield
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Forum now provides searching by word sequences

Post by rjlittlefield »

When using the forum's built-in search facility, it is now possible to specify word sequences by enclosing them in quotes.

For example, a search for posts by rjlittlefield, containing diffraction blurring without the quotes, returns 75 replies after this post, but only 52 when quotes are added as in "diffraction blurring" .

A search for "diffraction blurring" AND ("underlying issue" OR "pretty happy") quickly finds those two old posts (and a couple of new posts, including this one).

Words or phrases can be excluded by using the minus sign, as in grating -diffraction .

There are some oddities in the facility. As one example, I had expected that grating AND NOT diffraction would also work to exclude a word. But no, that gives the same result as "grating" AND "diffraction", with NOT excluded as too short, too common. As a second example, specifying the query as "diffraction blurring" AND ("underlying issue" OR "pretty happy") provides a result page that says
Searched query: +"diffraction blurring" +("underlying issue" "pretty happy")
but then actually specifying that form as a new query finds fewer matches!

I plan to stick with the AND/OR/parenthesis notation that I rashly imagine I understand.

This improved search facility is provided by switching the forum configuration from "phpBB Native Fulltext" to "MySQL Fulltext". I do not know exactly what that means, under the covers, but both facilities are provided -- selectable one at a time -- by the standard phpBB distribution.

--Rik

Scarodactyl
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Re: Forum now provides searching by word sequences

Post by Scarodactyl »

My favorite thing is it no longer discards short words or ones that show up frequently, so it's possible to search for things like tube lens test. Thank you very much for the great upgrade!

rjlittlefield
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:34 am
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Re: Forum now provides searching by word sequences

Post by rjlittlefield »

Thanks for the kind words. It does seem like a good change, fairly painless so far.

There is still a limit on word length. Only words that are 4 characters or longer can be searched for.

I'm still exploring whether we can reduce that. The limit is set as a server-wide parameter in the MySQL configuration, so it's not a trivial thing that I can just tweak and evaluate using the demotest forum.

(Yes, having that limit be a property of MySQL in general, not specific to the database, sounds like crazy archaic design to me too. I have no idea why MySQL does it that way.)

--Rik

Lou Jost
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Re: Forum now provides searching by word sequences

Post by Lou Jost »

Thanks for doing this, Rik. It greatly improves the functionality of this wonderful forum.

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