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Sep 09, 2019, 04:12 AM
WMD
WMD
Womble of Model Depiction
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Outerzone - new search pages, feedback


Hi all. Thought I would open a thread up on this for anyone interested. I am working on a better search system for the plans on Outerzone, and will be uploading some new pages soon, probably tomorrow. Am interested in thoughts and feedback from people who use the site, and this seems like a good way to get some quick answers.

The main 2 things I want to work on are:

1. The search results that get returned can often be too wide. (eg A. do a simple search for Spitfire now, you'll get exactly 201 plans back... and most of them aren't actually Spitfire plans, they just include a mention of the text string Spitfire in the long text description, somewhere, maybe say the DC Spitfire diesel engine for instance. eg B. Try searching for, say, plans of the Horten flying wings... the string "horten" forms part of the very commonly used word "shorten". etc)

2. The view (I mean the page style, the layout) that you get back, by default is a text only list. There is only one other view option available, and that shows you plan thumbs, but no pics. I want more visual results to be available. Including pics.

I will be working on this for a couple of days and tweaking things on the live site, so if you are interested, now is a good time to look at the existing pages and think about what you'd like changed. Then add your 2c here.

Steve

[edit] doh, here's the page link: https://outerzone.co.uk/search/index.asp

It's the simple search that I'm looking at. We can later on mess with the Advanced and Tag matrix and all that. But the simple search, the default search, is where I want to concentrate for now. If that is working well, the others will follow.
Last edited by WMD; Sep 09, 2019 at 04:24 AM. Reason: doh
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Sep 09, 2019, 05:56 AM
Registered User
Hi Steve, I wonder if it is possible to add an option 'search title only'? In the event of no useful result the broad search option remains. Many thanks for an amazing resource.
Sep 09, 2019, 06:16 AM
WMD
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Thanks. Yeah, that's what I think too. But to complicate it a wee bit, it's not always just the plan title. At the moment the simple search works on 4 fields at the same time:

1. PlanTitle
2. Designer
3. Publisher
4. CompleteText (aka About this plan) (aka Description)

So people are searching for (say) Horten, or Phil Smith, or Berkeley, all from the same place.

I'm thinking we need a switch for "SearchCompleteText" which by default is off. That way the simple search returns useful results for PlanTitle, Designer and Publisher... all in one go.
Last edited by WMD; Sep 09, 2019 at 06:27 AM.
Sep 09, 2019, 10:25 AM
WMD
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Thinking some more - it might still be useful to search the first 200 or 300 characters of the Description. Quite often that includes something useful, like an AKA or something. See example here: http://local.outerzone/plan_details.asp?ID=11281

About this Plan: Hurlburt Hurricane. Peanut rubber scale model racer. 1947-48 Goodyear Racer. The subject Hurlburt Hurricane (AKA Camburn Special) was a 1940's midget-class racing plane designed by aviators... etc

So in this example, if we don't include the beginning of the description text in our search, then people who are looking for the "Camburn Special" won't find it.
Sep 09, 2019, 10:31 AM
A man with a plan
Balsaworkbench's Avatar
I am frequently asked where to get plans for specific planes. In these cases I email an Outerzone link, so I am a frequent user of the simple search. I've noticed that there are very specific parameters that will cause the search to succeed or to fail.

A search for the Q-Tee plan will succeed if I spell the complete and correct name, Q-Tee. But if I search QTee or Q Tee I get nothing. Typing a partial name works sometimes. Tee yields 1001 results with the Q-Tee on page 23. But Q yields no results. Just for grins and giggles I also tried QT (bad), Q T (bad) and Q-T (good).

Sometimes I wonder how many other plans I have failed to find even though they are on Outerzone. I have a Pete N Poke plan that I was considering uploading, but I don't know if it's already there, because I'm not sure if it would be spelled the same way on the site.
Sep 09, 2019, 11:30 AM
WMD
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That's a really good example. The truth is that the Outerzone simple search is fast and brutal, and quite unfriendly. It just compares text strings (and strings inside strings), and that's it. So it doesn't help you if you've made a typo or if you miss out the hyphen. You know the way Google will often say something like: "Showing results for Spitfire " ...when you actually typed Spatfire by mistake? Well, the Outerzone search does none of that. It doesn't care. It's cruel and unhelpful, that way.

That's a whole can of worms there, to be honest.

Because the Q-Tee is listed as exactly that, searching for QTee will not find it. Unless the Description text includes that mis-spelling. I've sometimes done that with say the Ugly Stik and put something like Ugly Stik (aka Ugly Stick) in the description text. Which is not a solution at all. It's just me realising there are two common spellings both in use. But we can't rely on me guessing all the common typos that will be done.

Note searching for Q-T works, as mentioned above, because partial strings are allowed. So Spitf is a quick search for Spitfire that never fails, because all Spitfire plans include the string spitf in the Title.
Last edited by WMD; Sep 09, 2019 at 11:40 AM.
Sep 09, 2019, 11:51 AM
A man with a plan
Balsaworkbench's Avatar
Looking at the plan I mentioned earlier, both the kit box and the plan say Pete'n Poke. The name is a combination of Pietenpol and Slowpoke. So how are we supposed to know how to spell it correctly? And who is Pete, for Pete's sake?
Sep 09, 2019, 12:02 PM
WMD
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Again, a good point. If I was checking myself to see if the Pete N Poke was listed I'd (and I appreciate this is not default usage, this too is unfriendly) I'd do a simple search for nameete and then to check again and make sure, I'd search again for nameoke ...that would find it.

The use of these modifiers is covered under the help link from the simple search page. But I agree it's not a system that is obvious and it's also not intuitive.

[edit Ha ha. Ok that didn't work. This forum makes that string into a smiley. I was trying to type the characters: name : pete, but with no spaces, if you see what I mean ]

[edit: added screenshot - hope that shows what I mean]
Last edited by WMD; Sep 09, 2019 at 12:20 PM. Reason: Added screenshot, to explain
Sep 09, 2019, 12:31 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by WMD
Thanks. Yeah, that's what I think too. But to complicate it a wee bit, it's not always just the plan title. At the moment the simple search works on 4 fields at the same time:

1. PlanTitle
2. Designer
3. Publisher
4. CompleteText (aka About this plan) (aka Description)

So people are searching for (say) Horten, or Phil Smith, or Berkeley, all from the same place.

I'm thinking we need a switch for "SearchCompleteText" which by default is off. That way the simple search returns useful results for PlanTitle, Designer and Publisher... all in one go.
I like the idea of the switch for SCT. That would avoid a huge number of the extraneous returns that occur for the reason you gave. I suspect it would be an easy solution to 90% of the present overflow in returns.

I'm rapidly becoming a HUGE fan of the tag matrix tool. If I want to browse for a style of design this is where I go right away now. It seems to give me just what I want when it's not a direct name for design or designer.

I'm also reminding myself that it's about time to send you another "thank you" donation towards your running of the site.....
Sep 09, 2019, 01:06 PM
A man with a plan
Balsaworkbench's Avatar
I like the tag matrix search, too. If I'm seeking inspiration for a new project (for instance, I'd like to build a slow biplane for my OS 120 Surpass) I can dictate wingspan, biplane, publication year to cater to my preferred design style, RC control, and IC engine, and the search results provide a pleasant opportunity for browsing.

The only time I have a hard time with a search is when I know the name of what I'm looking for.
Sep 09, 2019, 01:16 PM
WMD
WMD
Womble of Model Depiction
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This is all useful for me to hear, thanks. I like the Tag Matrix a lot myself - when I get chance, I'll try and add more features to that.

OK. As far as simple search goes, I hear you on the name thing, and the spelling issue. Will try and give that some thought. I have a feeling it gets very complex very quickly as soon as you start into programming an 'intelligent' search, that does more than just comparing strings for a match. But it's certainly worth a look.

Meanwhile, I will get some some new pages up onto the site tomorrow that make changes to
1. the default search results (adding a SearchCompleteText switch)
2. the choice of page (style) views that you see the results with (ResultsView switch)
Sep 09, 2019, 01:48 PM
Registered User
mhodgson's Avatar
Tag search could do with tailless tag.
Perhaps a radio button/check box on the simple search to limit it to one field if you want.
Sep 09, 2019, 01:49 PM
WMD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balsaworkbench
Looking at the plan I mentioned earlier, both the kit box and the plan say Pete'n Poke. The name is a combination of Pietenpol and Slowpoke. So how are we supposed to know how to spell it correctly? And who is Pete, for Pete's sake?
Sorry just realised I missed something here. If you have the real plan in font of you, that’s the right spelling. I mean here at Oz we bow to the wisdom of the designer and publisher. Whatever spelling they used, that’s what we take as correct. That’s what we also use as the title, on Oz.
Sep 09, 2019, 02:45 PM
A man with a plan
Balsaworkbench's Avatar
That makes good sense. I suppose I wasn't clear, but I was thinking of the unfortunate soul who wants to build one but can't figure out how to spell it. I have the plan in my box of plans, and I couldn't remember how it was spelled until I got it out and looked at it.
Sep 09, 2019, 03:31 PM
WMD
WMD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhodgson
Tag search could do with tailless tag.
Perhaps a radio button/check box on the simple search to limit it to one field if you want.
Ok. Tag for tailless, agreed.
Radio button / checkbox... I agree there should be (there is has to be ) a way to move from simple search to more complex searches. For me, itís a question of how best to do it while keeping the default form as simple and uncluttered as possible. Currently itís a single field and a go button, I like that as default. The more form widgets that we add, that are visible, the more thinking we have to do.

I agree, but Iíd suggest make it a small text link, below, maybe next to the help link. That says more options or something like that. Most people will ignore it and never use it. Thatís the weighting youíd give it, then.


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