Thursday, June 1st, 2006

Search all fields / review improvements

I’ve made improvements to two areas—searching and reviews.

Searching all fields. I admit it: the old searching capabilities were weak. The new ones are better, but not perfect. Under the Search tab you’ll now see two options, “Search titles/authors” and “Search all fields.” The former is the old, lame search. The latter is the new “all fields” search.

All fields means: title, author and other authors, ISBN, date, publication, LC call number, Dewey, series, BCID, “summary,” comments and review.

When you do the new search LibraryThing will take a moment to prepare. If you have only a few hundred books, you may not see or only briefly glimpse the flip-flopping killer whale (at right, in case you missed it). In theory, you won’t see the whale again unless you add a bunch more books. In fact, I will probably be clearing out the searching cache as I make improvements and get the bugs out.

Some drawbacks:

  1. The “all fields” does not include tags, which has its own search function.
  2. There remains no “advanced” search, where you could choose which fields to search. This will have to wait on anticipated server and database improvements; even though it has more books than all but 100 libraries in the US, LibraryThing still runs on essentially one $2,500 server. (There’s a lesson in here about library IT costs.)
  3. The “search library” link in the catalog does not yet include the feature. I am thinking that “all fields” will not be the default, with perhaps a checkbox to search just titles and authors. But I want to monitor resource usage before I do that.

Reviews. This one has been up for about a week, with a “beta” announement in the Google Group. The new reviews screen (example) shows your reviews, others’ reviews of books in your library, both with full text. The old review screen just listed reviews by title, without the text. The old one also was alphabetical-only, where the new defaults to showing the newest reviews first. I think the improvement make the review screen more “current,” informative and fun.

There was some feedback on the Google Group from users who liked the old one better. I much prefer the new one, but I’m open to some combination of the new and the old. Or I could just keep the old around, but that strikes me as wiggly.

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