Sunday, December 12, 2004


Search as you type

I find "Search as you type" (where the searching starts when you start typing, rather than waiting for you to complete a search term and hit enter) to be such a useful way of working that I'm always looking for more apps that implement the feature.

Of the apps I use daily, the following implement the feature:
Of course, the first two of these have the easier task - they are simply searching within a block of text, and the result of the search is to move the displayed portion to include the searched for term.

On the otherhand, CDS is returning a sorted or ranked list of matches that the text you are typing refers to - which both requires a lot more processing, and requires that your index that allows you to pull up such results is designed in such a way that it allows prefix matching, not just full word matching.

This sort of leads to the fact that no major search engine offers "search as you type" - few of their indexes are set up for efficient prefix matching, and the need to come up with an entirely new set of results with each keypress is more loading than the servers want.

It's very interesting therefore to see Google Suggest which whilst not providing a full "search as you type" feature, does go part way there in that it provides a list of suggested competions of your search term as you type.

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