Originally Posted by dmapr
OK, just to make sure I understand you correctly. If in my previous example I used the name series_1 for the column where I stuck the Jane Doe value then I would get the behavior I was after and there would also be a way to consolidate the view in Calibre; while if the column was named secondary_character then I'd have a Jane Doe series as well as Jane Doe (Secondary Character) series on the reader?
The name of the column has nothing to do with what happens on the reader. What I hope to be able to do is to provide a 'tweak' that indicates that *all* series columns are to be collapsed when creating collections on the reader. In other words, from the reader's point of view, there is only one column. Strange things will happen if two columns for a given book contain the same series name but different series index numbers. I cannot predict which index will be used to sort, or even if the same index will be consistently used. (Hmmm.... I suppose I could look at doing prefix matching when building collections, but then I would need some way to know what prefixes to look at. My suspicion is that doing so will complicate life beyond my willingness to deal with it, but I will think about it.)
Now to searching. What I propose and hope to be able to build is the ability to search across a set of columns sharing a common search name prefix. In your example, that prefix would be 'series'. Searching for 'series*' would check columns named series, series_1, series_2, seriesblunderbuss, etc. This allows you to search for series*:"=Jane Doe" and find values across all the matching series columns. You can search individual columns by providing its name without the '*'.
The sorting problem remains unresolved. There is no way to sort on a merger of two columns.
Note that all of these ideas are subject to Kovid's approval. He rightly does not want to add functionality that is not consistent with his plans for calibre's future.