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Site Tweak: Improved Full Text Search Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

10 November 2020

When we discovered we'd published over four and a quarter million words here, it occurred to us that our full text search known as Mike's Method was going to get slower with age.

New Search Options. The old 'Mike's Method' has been renamed to 'Full Text' with three options.

Mike's Method scans everything we've published. And we've been published since 2012. Over 6,600 articles.

We didn't want to change the method. We want a full text search of everything on the site. There's nothing like it.

The indexed searches by Bing, DuckGoGo and Google just don't update their indices as soon as we publish something. So they're never complete.

But we could offer an option to just search more recent stories.

That became an interesting problem. How would we define "more recent"? If we defined it as stories published in the current year, that would be fine in November but not too helpful in January.

To keep in simple, we decided to offer new popup menu options for everything (as we always have), the current year and the prior year. We may refine that concept but it works well with our directory structure.

The menu is self-updating so on Jan. 1 it will offer 2021 for the current year and 2020 for the prior year. Which is why we added the prior year.

We also revised the report to indicate if a single year is being searched.

Report. Now indicates is a single year has been searched.

And just in case you're wondering, yes, it's much faster searching through single recent year of about a thousand stories.

The two-minute plus search of the whole publication compares to just a five second search of a full year, depending on the number of hits.

As a work in progress, we'll continue testing the new feature and, as always, invite your feedback.

Update (10 Nov.): Software development is never finished. Software developers just get tired and take a break. As soon as we took a break from this project today, we started wondering how to implement a search crossing year boundaries, say 18 months. It took a while to figure it out but we managed.

Then we had the bright idea to add a year-bounded search to each of the headline indices. So if you happen to be looking at the headlines for 2014, you can search within just that year. And you'll get a file and word count for that year in the report.

Oh, and while we were at it, we redesigned the search for on both the Archive page and the report form itself.

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