Introducing Project Search

Something that we constantly struggle with when designing new features or improvements to our products is discoverability. By discoverability I mean how easy or difficult it is for users to learn about the existence of a feature.

One of the ways we tried to improve discoverability in general was to introduce our Help Hub, which provides context sensitive help resources and also supports text searching throughout the help and our online knowledge base. We also added a Search Box in the title bar – this will search through all of the User Interface for text and is great for tracking down that elusive setting.

So when we decided to add the Project Search tool to HelpStudio and Document! X, we wanted to make sure that the powerful functionality it offers was as accessible and discoverable as possible. To that end, in the next update to Document! X and HelpStudio you will find “Where is this used?” commands on the context menu for Topics, Build Flags, Images and Other Files; invoking this command will create and open a Project Search pre-configured to search for places in which you have used that item in the current project.

Here is an example of a Build Flag usage search (created and run by selecting “Where is this used?” from the context menu for a Build Flag):

BuildFlagSearch
Example Build Flag Usage Search

Because the Project Search opened by the “Where is this used?” command is pre-configured you don’t have to get your hands dirty trying to create the search manually, but you do have an instant illustrated example of how Project Search works; so you can tinker, extend or save those searches if you wish. You can also create new empty Project Searches from the Tools ribon tab, and save them for later re-use (saved searches appear on the Project Explorer under a new Saved Searches node).

Powerful Rules Engine

Because Project Search uses the same Rules Engine as the Filters page in the Build Profile editor and AutoDoc in Document! X, it provides a considerable amount of power and flexibility. You can search for items using a range of Rules, including the Item Property Rule – which gives you access to all of the elements used in the generated output. You can also combine rules in logical AND / OR Rule Groups.

You don’t have to go too crazy at first of course – one of the most common searches will probably be on Item Name. Particularly in Document! X projects this provides a great way to quickly find items with a particular naming pattern throughout the project – e.g. a common member that requires some additional documentation.

ItemNameSearch
Sample Item Name search – looking for items with “Rss” in the name

Navigating Search Results

You can open up any of the items in the Project Search result list by double clicking it. Doing so will open up the Project Search Navigation Bar so you can then step through the results without having to return to the Project Search screen each time.

NavigationBar
Project Search Navigation Bar

You can also use the Ctrl+< and Ctrl+> hotkeys to navigate (tip: these hotkeys work for the Project Find and Replace, Project Spell Check and Project Link Check Navigation Bars too).

Availability

Project Search will be included in the next Document! X and HelpStudio update, available later this week (w/c 30th July 2013).

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