Search form improvements

< SMWCon Fall 2022
SMWCon Fall 2022Search form improvements

SMWCon Fall 2022
Search form improvements
Talk details
Description: The standard Semantic MediaWiki search form is too complicated for average users, both for those setting up SMWs but especially for those who just use them. It should be relatively easy to adjust it to make it more user friendly.
Speaker(s): Jan H. Höffler
Type: Hackathon, In session
Audience: Developers
Event start: 2022/10/28 14:45:00
Event finish: 2022/10/28 15:45:00
Length: 60 minutes
Video: not available
Keywords: Special:Ask
More on the website: Special:Ask
Give feedback

In the experience of the ReplicationWiki that has been presented during SMWCon 2020 and about which recent progress will be presented this year, the standard search form is too complicated. It allows to make complex searches like under "Condition" on the left for certain values in properties combined with a restriction to categories. It can also be adjusted with "Printout selection" on the right to show different fields. The average user is however not aware of all the categories and properties in a Semantic MediaWiki and would not directly understand what "condition" means, how the syntax with squared brackets and one colon for categories and two for properties and a question mark for the printout work and what the options for printout are, not to speak of advanced options like for parts of text in properties with asterisks or tildes, which are explained on a page Help:Search operators that few users will find or be willing to search for. There is a general help page at Help:Semantic search but it I very much doubt many users will take the time to read it and its many sub-pages.
The Semantic Drilldown extension allows much easier searches by just clicking on categories and values but has a bug that doesn't always allow selecting more than one value for a property, the printout options are restricted and at least to my knowledge no searches for sub-strings or boolean searches like A but not B are possible.

It would be great if the standard search form could be adapted to allow the user to see which options are available for "condition"and "printout selection" by opening a drop down menu upon hovering the mouse over "condition" or "printout selection", with all categories and properties that are clickable and a quick description of how these can be used.
In addition, for those who set up SMWs it would be extremely helpful if just in the style of forms for entering data that allow to avoid markup language one could also design search forms adjusted to the typical needs of users: There may be categories and/or properties that users will not typically search in, so they could be excluded from these search forms. And instead of using squared brackets, colons and question marks, users expect to easily click for the options that they want.