Searching the Site

This site uses Swish-e to provide search indexing functionality. While the precise configuration of the software is, of course, site-specific, additional information is available at swish-e.org.

Although Swish-e provides functionality similar to other search engines such as Google, it uses a different syntax for advanced operations. The details, along with some examples, are presented in the following sections. For simple searches, enter the terms in the search box found in the top-left corner of every page. If more than one word is entered, only documents that contain all terms will be shown. Search results are displayed with the best match first and the worst match last.

Operators

Four boolean operators are recognized by the search engine: AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR. By default — if no operator is specified — AND is assumed. Any specified terms are joined, either explicitly or implicitly, by an operator. For example, searching for “foo bar” is identical to searching for “foo and bar” — a list of documents containing both “foo” and “bar” will be returned. Note that in the first case, the AND operator was implied.

In a similar fashion, the OR operator may be used to return a list of documents containing either one or both terms: “foo or bar”.

As might be expected, the NOT operator is used to “invert” the results: “not foo” will list all documents that do not contain “foo”.

The NEAR operator is somewhat more complicated; it succeeds only when the first parameter is within a specified number of words of the second. For example, “foo near5 bar” will return a list of files where the words “foo” and “bar” occur within 5 words of each other. If NEAR is specified without a numeric parameter or with a parameter of 0, the operator is equivalent to an AND.

Operators are not case-sensitive; AND is equivalent to and or And. If you need to use an operator in a search expression, put it in quotes: “foo "and" bar” will search for documents containing “foo”, “bar”, and “and”.

Search terms are evaluated from left to right. To specify a different order of evaluation, parentheses may be used: “foo AND (bar OR baz)” will search for files that contain “foo” and “bar” or “foo” and “baz.”. If the parenthesis were omitted in this example, it would match files containing either “foo” and “bar” or “baz” — a completely different search.

Wildcards

There are two wildcard characters: “*” and “?”. “*” is used to match zero or more characters. It can be used only at the end of a word. The “?” character is used to match a single character; it can occur anywhere but as the first character in a word. For example, “fo*” will match “fo”, “foo”, and “foobar”, while “fo?” will match “foo” but not “fo” or “foobar”. This is similar to what you may be familiar with when dealing with filenames.

Meta Tags

In addition to the textual content of the indexed files, the search engine also tracks meta data embedded in the files. In the case of HTML files, this includes information contained in “meta tags.” Most of the content on this site has been created with the following tags to assist in searching:

A meta-tag search is specified by using the “=” character: “category=help” will list all documents tagged with “help” in the meta-data type “category.” This, incidentally, is the way that category and tag searches are implemented on the site.

The standard operators may be used in conjunction with a meta data search, and meta data may be searched for along with “normal” data: “tag=testing AND software”.

To search on a word that contains a “=”, precede the “=” with a “\” (backslash): “tags\=3 AND x\=4 OR y\=5”.

Searching for a Phrase

To search for an exact phrase in a document use double-quotes to delimit your search terms: “"search test"”. Note that you can not use boolean search terms inside a phrase; everything inside of the quotes is taken literally. The normal operators can be used to construct compound search predicates that include phrases, however.

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