Advanced Search nitpick & bugs

Nitpick: the left dropdown menu in the Advanced Search window is rather cluttered. Wouldn't it improve things if the fields (Title, Abstract, Creator, etc.) were separated from other types of searchable metadata (Annotation, Attachment Content, Attachment File Type, Child Note, Collection, Item Type, and Saved Search), with a divider in the dropdown menu between the two categories?

Bug 1: With Zotero Standalone 3.0.3 and Windows XP, selecting "Attachment Content" increases the vertical size of the text box a lot because of the size of the Phrase/Regexp dropdown menu button that appears in the text box on the right. Reducing the size of the button should fix this. For some unclear reason the vertical size also increases with "Date", "Extra", and "Note", although not as much.

Bug 2: When a library doesn't contain any Saved Searches, the box on the right doesn't update properly for "Saved Search". E.g., selecting "Item Type" and then "Saved Search" results in:
"Saved Search" "is" "Artwork"
Obviously the right box should be empty. (even better would be a message like "no saved searches in library")
  • edited April 4, 2012
    Oh, and some of the menu options have a tooltip (like "Date" and "Type"). It would be nice to mark these as such with an asterisk ("Date*").

    E.g., if a user is looking for the field "Genre" (which is missing from the Advanced Search options but can be searched by selecting "Type"), the asterisks would give a hint that some menu options don't just represent a single field.
  • Oh, and when the advanced search window contains multiple search filters, each row has an active plus button, but clicking any one adds a new row at the end of the filter list. It would be nicer if all the plus buttons except the last one would greyed out, like the plus buttons in the right column of the Zotero pane next to the creators.
  • edited April 4, 2012
    Oh, and I was trying to figure out what the "Search subfolders" checkbox does. It confused me, since I assumed that it would affect the scope of general searches, but apparently it only affects searches by the "Collection" property.

    See also the old thread in which Dan recommends renaming the option and disabling it when the "Collection" property isn't searched. As for the new name, maybe "Include items in subcollections" would be better?
  • I'm OK with all of these changes, with the possible exception of the asterisks, which I don't love, though I don't have a better solution.
  • Other than using asterisks (or some other string like " [+]"), the only other solution I can think of is using a hierarchical menulist, which seems to be possible using XBL:

    Not sure implementing such a complicated UI is worth the trouble though, although it would allow for more flexibility in advanced searches (e.g., you could make it possible for users to search by "Type", or by any of the Zotero fields mapped to "Type", such as "Letter Type"). My vote is to start with asterisks.
  • Here's another strong vote for a simplified and cleaner advanced search interface. Including matching the names of search fields with the names of fields in citation records. So, for example, creator should be split into Author and Editor (even if internally they are the same field in the database). Search by journal title should be clearly named (there is only search by Journal abbreviation, to search by Journal title I think one needs to search by series title).

    As much as like Zotero, the Advanced search interfaced is the weakest point.

  • edited July 12, 2012
    Jacek: I agree that the drop-down should better convey which mapped field belongs to which base field, but note that you're essentially asking for the list to be probably nearly twice its current length, and you're asking for there to be, for example, a "Website Title" field that wouldn't search, say, "Blog Title". So just "splitting" the fields doesn't make this unambiguously simpler or cleaner.

    Search by journal title should be clearly named (there is only search by Journal abbreviation, to search by Journal title I think one needs to search by series title).
    There's no "Journal Title" field in Zotero. The field in the Journal Article item type is "Publication", which is also the base field that shows in the search drop-down (mapped to various other type-specific fields that you can see by hovering over it).

    In any case, Rintze's suggestion of a hierarchical menulist would probably be an improvement. That would still increase the length, but it'd make it clear which fields belonged to which base and let you search by either the base or the mapped field:
    - Creator
    - Author
    - Editor
    - Contributor
    - Item Type
    - Publication
    - Blog Title
    - Book Title
    - Dictionary Title
    - Encyclopedia Title
    - Forum/Listserv Title
    - Proceedings Title
    - Program Title
    - Publication
    - Website Title
    The downside to this is that you probably never actually want to search for "Website Title" without also searching "Blog Title". It wouldn't force you to ever select that, of course, and you could easily find that and then select the parent "Publication" field, but having the individual fields be selectable would make things a bit more complicated.

    Alternatively, it could just show those mapped fields in gray below the base field (not counting the creator types, which would be individually selectable). The downside to that is that you wouldn't be able to navigate to a particular mapped field by typing the beginning of its name, but most people don't know you can do that anyway. I think I'm generally in favor of this approach.

    I've created an issue for this. If someone wants to work on this, they're quite welcome to.
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