Thursday, January 10, 2008

Three Clever Xobni Features (2/3): As-you-type Search

This is installment 2 of 3 blog entries about features in Xobni where I discuss well-implemented, clever ideas. None of these are Xobni-specific – you should be able to port these ideas to any web or desktop app.

Previously: Three Clever Xobni Features (1/3): Are you Happy?

Traditionally, you type in the query, hit Enter, and get the results. In Xobni, you start typing your query and we start showing you results as-you-type.

Outlook 2007 has a similar feature: When you type and pause for a bit, it starts a search in the background. But it's the same operation at the same speeds as their normal search. In contrast, our search indexes and data files are optimized for incremental search: We search for prefixes, not full words. This makes us much faster.

The next installment of this series appears on Monday, January 14. Subscribe to my RSS feed to get updates.


Anonymous said...

X1 also has this feature.
The problem with it is because you don't wait for the user's Enter, you don't know exactly what she was looking for, and you cannot put it in a history drop-down list like Google toolbar does.

You might combine these, though. You can start searching right away, and when the user hits Enter, you know it's definitely what the user is looking for, so next time the user starts typing, you can offer him a drop down of previous searches, and also provide navigation between previous searches.

My common sample is when I search for a ticket number. If I later want to get back to that search, I have to find this ticket number again. If Xobni (or X1) offered me to go back to a previous search I did, I could easily find the mails related to that ticket I'm after.

See my rant at

Gabor said...

Actually, we could do history autocomplete.

The moment that a user clicks on a search result, you know that not only did the user search for this in the past, but she also found something relevant. Thus, you add it to the drop-down next time.

That variant of autocomplete has higher relevance, while still allowing you to do as-you-type search!