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Old 11-02-2010, 07:44 AM   #1
kiwidude
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Quick way to reduce search scope e.g. to just author?

About 90% of the time I do a search in Calibre I am just after a search for the author and most of the rest of the time just for title. It is extremely rare that I want to search "everywhere in metadata" which seems to be the default and I can find no way to constrict this outside of finnicky regular expressions. For instance to find all authors starting with "Smith" I could type this:

author:"~^smith.*"

Powerful? Absolutely! User friendly? Ermmm, no, not compared to just quickly being able to type "smith"?

I would love a dropdown next to the existing search so you can choose a scope such as for "author", "title", "tags", "anywhere" etc. I looked at the "Advanced Search" dialog and even that doesn't have the ability to constrain to a column, not that I would want to have to use that every time anyways.

Once your library gets over a certain size there is just way too much "noise" that comes back for the default search scope of "anywhere", and as the results are not sorted by relevance (your current browse sort used instead) it can get a little frustrating sometimes?

Has this come up before? I did a search on the forums without seeing anything. I know you can browse the authors in the listview on the left but again after a certain size this becomes less practical.

Perhaps I am missing something really obvious here - wouldn't be the first time! Many thanks for your input!
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:19 AM   #2
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Personally, I like the way the search bar works right now. As for your question, there's really no other way than specifying the search field in your query, although you should be aware that you don't have to use regular expressions. The search
Code:
author:"smith"
should also return all authors containing "Smith".
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwidude View Post
About 90% of the time I do a search in Calibre I am just after a search for the author and most of the rest of the time just for title. It is extremely rare that I want to search "everywhere in metadata" which seems to be the default and I can find no way to constrict this outside of finnicky regular expressions. For instance to find all authors starting with "Smith" I could type this:

author:"~^smith.*"

Powerful? Absolutely! User friendly? Ermmm, no, not compared to just quickly being able to type "smith"?

I would love a dropdown next to the existing search so you can choose a scope such as for "author", "title", "tags", "anywhere" etc. I looked at the "Advanced Search" dialog and even that doesn't have the ability to constrain to a column, not that I would want to have to use that every time anyways.

Once your library gets over a certain size there is just way too much "noise" that comes back for the default search scope of "anywhere", and as the results are not sorted by relevance (your current browse sort used instead) it can get a little frustrating sometimes?

Has this come up before? I did a search on the forums without seeing anything. I know you can browse the authors in the listview on the left but again after a certain size this becomes less practical.

Perhaps I am missing something really obvious here - wouldn't be the first time! Many thanks for your input!
Have yo clicked the luggage tag at the bottom?
Each category is available. If you expand the Category, you can select by details. Hold the control key, and add additional terms. Please note the Criteria control under the list.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by theducks View Post
Have yo clicked the luggage tag at the bottom?
Each category is available. If you expand the Category, you can select by details. Hold the control key, and add additional terms. Please note the Criteria control under the list.
Hi mate. Ok, so those things on the left are called "categories". And yes as per my original post I have used that section quite a lot, in fact it often works out better to use this than the search textbox up the top because of the amount of noise I get from unscoped searches there.

However - when you have several thousand authors it can be painful to scroll up/down and find the author you want especially as there is no keyboard data entry in there.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manichean View Post
Personally, I like the way the search bar works right now. As for your question, there's really no other way than specifying the search field in your query, although you should be aware that you don't have to use regular expressions. The search
Code:
author:"smith"
should also return all authors containing "Smith".
True, if you don't want to limit to starts with then you don't need a regular expression. However you still have to do some careful text selection/replacement to ensure the quotes are present etc if you are checking a bunch of authors as I am doing.

My point is that (for me anyways) having to type so much is not conducive or intuitive for quick searches. Go to pretty much any book search website I have ever seen and they will give you the ability to have dedicated search boxes for title and author. Also with the results (assuming no "relevance" algorithm for simplicity) that if you search by title, I would want the titles to come back sorted by title. If I search by author, they come back sorted by that and so on. If you have a very small Calibre library, or not very rich metadata, then I can see the current search working well. However unless you type a very long specific string of text I don't believe it "scales" as well as it potentially could do from the noise aspect?
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:19 AM   #6
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Like I said, personally, I like the way it is. It would be much more bothersome to have to fill out either multiple fields or selecting search fields from a dropdown box. Though I have to say that being a touch typist may have an influence.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:45 PM   #7
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you dont actually need the quotes

author:smith

will work just fine. And to me, typing in a search box is far nicer than selecting fields from a dropdown. And the search syntax that the calibre search fields supports is very similar to that of google, which quite a few people seem to find intuitive.

If you are saying you want search results sorted by relevance, that be something worth doing, though what algorithm would decide the "relevance" of a match?

Last edited by kovidgoyal; 11-02-2010 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
If you are saying you want search results sorted by relevance, that be something worth doing, though what algorithm would decide the "relevance" of a match?
That might indeed be worth having. Intuitively, I'd suggest something like the completeness of the match, thus, given a search across all metadata fields for the string "smith", for example a book by an author named Smith would have higher relevance than a publication by the Smithsonian.

Edit to add: However (I'm thinking as I type here, so bear with me, please), the search result are, I believe, usually sorted by whatever criteria the library is currently sorted, which, in my eyes at least, would be preferable to a sorting by relevance.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:00 PM   #9
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You mean what fraction of the field is matched by the query? That wouldn't actually help with your example since the author field would contain firstname and lastname and so be longer, typically, that "smithsonian"
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
You mean what fraction of the field is matched by the query? That wouldn't actually help with your example since the author field would contain firstname and lastname and so be longer, typically, that "smithsonian"
Yes, well, in the case of authors, you'd have to compensate and consider just the last (or first) name a complete match if given only one word as a search term... Like I wrote, I was thinking as I typed, and thus, the idea obviously would need refinement. For example, if there was a query for "smith son", should Smithsonian be rated higher or lower than a book written by "Smith and sons"?
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:14 PM   #11
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It's worth considering, but I have too many other things that I need to prioritise at the moment. But if someone is interested in writing the code for it, I'll help get them started.
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Old 11-02-2010, 02:06 PM   #12
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I only suggested a dropdown just to keep the gui clean compared to a dedicated author/title search. Though if that could be a replacement panel to appear on the LHS instead of the scroll and click categories thing that would work too. I was just raising the possibility of an alternative way to search which matches how "casual non-geek" users work who are accustomed to as I say most conventional book websites out there that don't just use an "all in one" approach. For instance FantasticFiction.co.uk is one website I end up using a lot, and they have both dedicated boxes and the dropdown options as well as A-Z indexes plus google on top. Lots of ways to skin the cat.

For anyone saying they would have to change the way they search - well no they wouldn't, they could just leave the dropdown at the default of "all" or whatever and life continues as it always has for you.

Nice to know quotes are not needed. However keep in mind that the text in the search box keeps changing as you drill into authors with Alt-A etc, so you do have to either carefully select/overtype or else retype the whole expression. Incidentally one behaviour I keep fruitlessly doing is hitting the back button on the mouse hoping for behaviour like a web browser to go back through my history of recent searches. And I don't just mean the ones that appear in the dropdown list - I mean whatever "view" I had applied at the time since Alt-A type filtering doesn't get added to the search history dropdown. If it remembered the search plus the sorting at the time would be nice too. Sorry going slightly o/t here.

However if I am flogging a dead horse over this without others wanting it too then so be it. Maybe there are other solutions. It would be nice to have a preferences option to *not* search comments and whatever else as they seem to be one of the main false positive causes. Yes I appreciate there are edge cases where searching metadata outside of title/author/series/tags is useful to someone but this is surely the rare exception rather than the norm? An option somewhere to turn this off in some way (or force people to use the advanced search for those cases) would at least reduce the noise for me.

In terms of improving the search output sorting - I guess the "randomness" in appearance/output is what has highlighted the issue to me. Now I know it isn't truly "random" but it is dependent on whatever sort I currently have applied at the time I search, number of matches plus bad luck on matching fields I don't give a crap about. For instance my default view is to sort by author->series->title - which means if I then search for a book title it could appear anywhere in the results. If however my last action in the GUI had sorted by title but I search for an author, then again the match I want could be anywhere in the results. Add in all the "noise" from comments matches or whatever else it searches and I just find it pretty frustrating.

A dropdown would help with sorting the search results but if you don't want that then I appreciate the difficulty of interpreting what it should apply. Maybe a "cheap" relevance algorithm would just solve it - i.e. prioritise "starts with" results over "contains", and matches in author/title fields over other places like comments. Just thinking out loud hoping something clicks with someone...
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:45 PM   #13
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The underlying search/sort mechanisms would support most of what kiwidude is asking for, with the exception of relevance searches. One way to do it is to have something like a set of combo boxes/text box pairs. One would select the field in the combo box, then puts the search term in the text box. The order of selection could control the sort. If one wants to be fancier, one could add the option to control whether the fields are auto-anchored.

Offered for discussion only, because this isn't something I am interested in having. I wouldn't use it, because I don't want my sort messed with and I type faster than I click.
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