[Wasabi Proposal] End user search language

Calum Benson Calum.Benson at Sun.COM
Tue Feb 13 05:24:03 PST 2007

On Mon, 2007-01-29 at 12:51 +0100, Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen wrote:
> 2007/1/29, Jean-Francois Dockes <jean-francois.dockes at wanadoo.fr>:
>         Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen writes:
>         > Hi All,
>         >
>         > I put together a first take on formalizing an end user
>         search language.
>         >
>         > http://wiki.freedesktop.org/wiki/WasabiUserSearchLanguage
>         - Which of OR and AND has priority ? (does (A AND B OR C) mean
>            ((A AND B) OR C) or (A AND (B OR C)) ?
> I guess it is standard that AND takes precedence over OR, but maybe it
> makes sense to reverse that in our case.

This is a perennial problem with designing boolean query UIs for average
(i.e. non-mathematically-trained) users-- they expect "and", "or" and
"not" to mean the same as they do in everyday language, but often they
don't.  E.g.:

-  User asks for a list of "blue things and red things", and gets back a
list of things that are both blue AND red (which in many contexts is an
empty list).

- User asks for a list of things that are "not blue or green", and gets
back a list of things that are every colour except blue (including

FWIW, this is why I personally prefer something like the eBay search
"language" to Google's-- I always find it easier to remember how to
construct more complex queries, and they never involve typing "and" or
"or" :)  (But of course, I'm not really your "average user" either.)


CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum.benson at sun.com            GNOME Desktop Group
http://ie.sun.com                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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