Blog Archive: 2013

Client-side search


When we rolled out the CHI 2013 previews site, we got a couple of requests for being able to search the site with keywords. Of course interfaces for search are one of my core research interests, so that request got me thinking. How could we do search on this site? The problem with the conventional approach to search is that it requires some server-side code to do the searching and to return results to the client. This approach wouldn’t work for our simple web site, because from the server’s perspective, our site was static — just a few HTML files, a little bit of JavaScript, and about 600 videos. Using Google to search the site wouldn’t work either, because most of the searchable content is located on two pages, with hundreds of items on each page. So what to do?

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Programming the web UI

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I wanted to clarify the point I tried to make in my blog post about Bobo and LinkedIn’s use of faceted search. I ended that post with a confusing question about faceted search framework in Lucene, and was quickly reminded by Bob Carpenter and others that Solr provides that capability. My comment was poorly made.

My comment about facets was related to programming the interface rather than to retrieval algorithms. It seems to me that a good, interactive interface for faceted browsing is every bit as complicated to build as a  good engine for finding the facets in the first place. Lately I’ve been messing around with Javascript programming, and am getting frustrated by the seemingly unnecessary complexity of building web user interfaces that are both efficient and effective.

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