WMDE Technical Wishes/AdvancedSearch

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AdvSearch Screen 20170620.png


The AdvancedSearch feature enhances Special:Search through an advanced parameters form and aims to improve the way how to configure namespaces. The advanced parameters form only shows already existing search options such as "intitle" that are currently only listed on help pages. The project has been kicked-off by a workshop series on advanced search in Germany in autumn 2016. After some prototyping and feedback loops, the AdvancedSearch was developed as a Mediawiki extension and is a beta feature as of November 2017.

Background & Research[edit]

The workshop approach[edit]

Search mapping in Cologne, Germany
On our way back to Berlin: Discussing workshop results and implementing the first prototype based on the results

Beside the wishlist approach, WMDE Tech & the German-speaking contributors developed a second way to discuss & identify technical needs in a collaborative way: "User specific" or "topic specific" workshops. The wishlist approach aims to collect, discuss and prioritize different technical requests from a broad community onwiki. The workshop approach aims to dive deeper into one area of the software, or focus on the needs of a specific user group and discuss & identify the critical issues in real life and onwiki (e.g.: "What kind of tools do admins need?").

The advanced search workshop series[edit]

Wikipedia's search is already very powerful but hardly anyone knows about it! - This is why Raymond, Lea and Birgit had the idea to conduct the workshop series on advanced search in autumn 2016.

Search parameters like "intitle" or "filetype" are currently only listed on help pages of cirrus search, and not easy to find. Most people - no matter if they are newcomers or longterm contributors - don't know about these keywords and how to use them.

The goals of the workshop series were a.) learn about the existing search options and how to use & combine them b.) design first ideas how those options could be made more visible c.) have a good understanding of what would be important when implementing an advanced search functionality aka making existing search options accessible for everyone.

First prototype and feedback rounds[edit]

Based on the results of the workshop serie, a first prototype has been created. With the help of the prototype, we could gather more valuable input to define the concept and requirements for the first "real" product.

Open questions were:

  • What can we do that people can easily find the advanced search interface?
  • How do we integrate the selection of name spaces into the search interface?
  • Which search options and name spaces are the most important ones/often used & how to integrate them best?

The first prototype has been discussed & tested

Development of the Mediawiki extension AdvancedSearch[edit]

Screenshot 1: AdvancedSearch extension with info popup
Screenshot 2: Advanced Search interface with collapsed bar
Screenshot 3: Namespace selection

The AdvancedSearch extension is currently a beta feature. See “Status” for more details.

Functionality and usage[edit]

The AdvancedSearch extension adds two bars to the search form on special:search: "Advanced parameters" and "Search in" (see screenshot 1).

Advanced parameters[edit]

  • The advanced parameters section can be expanded.
  • The expanded view shows a selection of options to specify the search queries.
  • The options in the search fields can be combined.
  • Users don't need to know the exact search operators "behind" a search query, but they can learn about it: There is an info icon behind each row. By clicking on that, a short introduction to the actual keyword/search operator such as "intitle" will be shown.
  • When the advanced parameters section is collapsed, the selected parameters are shown as tags within the bar, each showing a preview of the search terms. The tags can be removed by clicking on the "x" within the tag. (see screenshot 2)
  • Here’s an overview which parameters are already integrated and which ones cannot be integrated in the extension.

Search in[edit]

  • Namespaces can be selected by checking the namespace presets, by typing into the field or from a dropdown menu. (see screenshot 3)
  • Different namespaces can be combined.
  • The selection can be saved by checking "Remember selection for future searches".
  • The selected namespaces are shown as tags. They can be removed individually by clicking on the "x" within a tag or by unchecking them in the dropdown.


Deployment as a beta feature ("small" beta feature)

  • YesY Nov 21, 2017: Mediawiki.org and test.wikipedia.org
  • YesY Nov 29, 2017: deWP and arWP
  • YesY Dez 6, 2017: huWP, faWP
  • During the small beta phase, more features – such as support for additional keywords – were added, the namespace selection got improved and bugs were fixed.

Deployment as a beta feature to all wikis ("full" beta feature)

  • YesY May 8, 2018
  • YesY September 20, 2018: Changes to the namespace dropdown (see screenshot 3), including
    • a) For better structuring, namespaces and their respective talk namespaces will be bundled.
    • b) Checkboxes will be added to clearly indicate which namespaces have been selected, and to make deselecting from the dropdown easier.



Comments or further ideas are very welcome! Best place for that is the central feedback page on Mediawiki.org. Thanks!