[Wasabi Proposal] End user search language
Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen
mikkel.kamstrup at gmail.com
Tue Feb 20 06:14:51 PST 2007
2007/2/19, Calum Benson <Calum.Benson at sun.com>:
> On Wed, 2007-02-14 at 14:29 +0100, Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen wrote:
> > 2007/2/13, Calum Benson <Calum.Benson at sun.com>:
> > 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
> > green).
> > 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.)
> > I was not familiar with the eBay search language. I must say that I'm
> > not really thrilled at they way they use braces - ie. they are not
> > subexpressions. Also - you have to read the language spec to know what
> > they do.
> Agreed; as I said, I'm certainly not an average user either.
> That said, most "average users" are probably doing simple, one
> word/phrase searches most of the time in any case. In which case, it
> may be acceptable to have them read instructions when they need to do
> something more complex, provided those instructions are sufficiently
> memorable that they don't have to read them again next time. I found
> this to be the case with eBay's, but I often have to refresh my memory
> with Google's-- perhaps, admittedly, because Google is better at finding
> things without complex queries in the first place, so the need to use
> them is much less frequent.
> As others have said, though, it's pretty much vital to usability test
> this sort of thing as soon as you can. Fortunately, command lines or
> other text UIs are often a lot easier to test than GUIs, as you can
> often get by with just a pencil and paper.
I don't think I'm the right guy to do usability testing. And I can pretty
much guarantee that the specs wont be ready in 2007 if I have to pull it off
The current proposal is a synthesis of Apples spotlight language and
Googles search language. The only usability study I know of is the one we
did here at work pointing to the conclusions I outline in the specs. The
biggest problem is that this study was in a library and on a web interface
which might not represent desktop search very well.
Anyway if anyone has time to pick this up (soonish! - like really really
soonish), or know of existing usability tests please speak up.
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