Search function in Help and Manual 6 not working properly?

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laurelalana
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Search function in Help and Manual 6 not working properly?

Unread post by laurelalana » Mon Mar 08, 2021 8:02 pm

Hello!
I'm running into a few issues with the search function in H&M 6. My users greatly prefer the search function to look up what information they need. But, the results are spotty. Sometimes, the search term will pull up appropriate pages. Other times it will pull up pages where the I can't find the searched terms anywhere on the page at all.

Internally when I was taught how to use H&M, I was told that adding "Keywords" on the page are the same thing as adding search terms that will help the page come up in a search. I'm starting to think that may not be true.

My larger question is -- how does the search function work in H&M 6? What does "terms matched" mean and "score" mean exactly? Because certain pages that come up as having a higher "score" don't seem to have the search terms present in it enough to warrant such a high score.

My more targeted question is -- how can I have the search function work better for my users? Is there a way to add related search terms to help refine searches? Right now, it's hit and miss and unreliable to the point that my users don't want to use H&M anymore as a resource.

Some specs: I inherited H&M 6 with many pages already built from a few years ago. It was set up as is "PHP" search. Publishing as "webhelp" to an internal web page. I recently checked "Enable exact phrase search" thinking that may help, but I don't think it made a difference. I attached a screenshot of my full text search webhelp page.

Any help would be appreciated! Let me know if any more details would be helpful. :)
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Tim Green
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Re: Search function in Help and Manual 6 not working properly?

Unread post by Tim Green » Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:46 am

Hi Laura,

Index keywords will be included in the search in WebHelp (you don't say, but I'm guessing this is the output format you are using), but they are only secondary. The main search is of the entire text of the topics.
My larger question is -- how does the search function work in H&M 6? What does "terms matched" mean and "score" mean exactly? Because certain pages that come up as having a higher "score" don't seem to have the search terms present in it enough to warrant such a high score.
The scoring system in the Zoom web search tool is a little opaque and I would honestly not set much store by it (you can turn its display off in the Premium Pack skins for HM7 and 8). If terms found don't seem to be visible in the text of the page then they are most likely to be index keywords associated with that page.

You also need to be aware that no web search function can really search all the files in real time when the search is performed. That would take hours via the web connection (Google doesn't do that either). What it does is generate an "index" (NOT the same thing as the keyword index!!) of where words are found in the project. Normally, when users search, the results will show where the words they enter are found. Phrasal searches (exact phrase between quotes) are only possible if you use the server-side PHP or ASP search platforms. Otherwise putting a phrase between quotes will only find topics with all the terms entered.
My more targeted question is -- how can I have the search function work better for my users? Is there a way to add related search terms to help refine searches?
Switching to the PHP (more common) or ASP (Windows web servers only) search platforms and activating phrasal search is a plus. You have already done that, so I'm assuming that it works on your server -- otherwise you'd just be seeing the PHP source code. Otherwise it should really work reliably provided you understand that it is searching words that actually occur in your topics. Adding keywords to your topics (in the Topic Options tab of each topic) for possible relational searchs can help a little, but it's really up to the users to search for terms that are really there in the text. And up to you as the author to use terms that you think your users will search for. 8)

Note: Don't try to use the A-Keywords field for this. That is only for CHM help and must be used in a very specialized way.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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laurelalana
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2021 12:33 am

Re: Search function in Help and Manual 6 not working properly?

Unread post by laurelalana » Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:11 pm

Thank you so much for the quick reply, Tim!

Yes, I'm using web help and PHP.

Yes, I think you're right. I think part of the issue as well, is that there are many pages that my predecessor made that may still be considered applicable in the sense of background or history on a topic -- but aren't current nor relevant. I'm torn as to how to handle those pages -- whether to delete entirely or mark as 'archived' somehow. Any thoughts on how to handle that?

Also, in regards to Anchors in H&M, is there a way to utilize anchors for the search? For example, if I have keywords when I create the anchor -- and those keywords are searched for -- if that page appears in the search results, will it take you to the anchor when selected?

Thank you!

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Tim Green
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Re: Search function in Help and Manual 6 not working properly?

Unread post by Tim Green » Wed Mar 10, 2021 9:06 am

I'm torn as to how to handle those pages -- whether to delete entirely or mark as 'archived' somehow. Any thoughts on how to handle that?
You can exclude pages from search by adding an underscore to their topic ID. For example, if the ID is general_introduction, changing it to _general_introduction would exclude it from the search index.
For example, if I have keywords when I create the anchor -- and those keywords are searched for -- if that page appears in the search results, will it take you to the anchor when selected?
No, because Zoom doesn't know about anchor keywords and doesn't scan them. It will only find keywords attached to the topic itself, not those attached to keywords.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

Private support:
Please do not email or PM me with private support requests -- post to the forum directly.

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