Projects/Usability/HIG/SearchPattern

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Purpose

A search function allows to generate a subset out of a big number of items based on a user defined pattern. It can usually be applied to various sources and has several options for fine-tuning. Often search results needs further refinement by a filter.

Supplemental to search the filter function reduces the number of items. This operation works on the current list only and does not generate a new output. Filtering should always be instantaneous and must not interrupt the workflow. It makes sense to discriminate between a static filter that is part of the navigation and always shown, and a dynamic filter used for the current workflow.

Similar to filtering the operation might be used to highlight information. This preselection is a common feature in text processing and used to locate a particular piece of information without concealing the surrounding.

Example

The example is based on KMail. To have both the static and dynamic filter in one application (which is not recommendable) the list of accounts can be reduced to a particular item. Combo boxes are enhanced by a checkbox list together with a caption that shows the selected items or, in case of not enough space, the number of selected items (this pattern needs a separate guideline). The tooltipp lists all selections.

The search dialog makes use of a pattern introduced by Amarok. All available options are provided in the upper list, selected per drag 'n drop for the actual filter below (this needs some refinement for accessibility), specified with a certain value, and aggregated into the complete search query. The query can be saved with a user-defined name, and will be listed and reloaded under a folder with this name.

KDE-Search KMail.png

Search

  • Use a search function to generate results based on various sources with sufficient options.
  • Always provide search function via extra secondary dialog.
  • Use advanced query parser to show the pattern on the one hand and to enter or modify the query directly.

Behavior

  • Do not abuse a filter for search operations. In particular do not use filter short-cuts to start the search.
  • Do not use search as the primary interaction method.
  • Show search results with a new reference (e.g. folder), like 'Last search'.
  • Allow users to save and reload queries.
  • Show the query on ctrl+H.
  • Close the query on escape or via close icon.
  • Focus the query on alt+H (localization dependend) and on ctrl+H.
  • Empty the query on context change but apply the new filter in case of a search reference (e.g. folder).
  • Follow the guidelines on delayed operations if the search takes longer.

Appearance

  • Label the query with 'Search'.
  • Place the input query above the result list.

KDE-Search Search.png

  • (Yet to be defined by the VDG)

Implementation

  • (To be defined by devs)

Filter

  • Apply filter to restrict the number of items of a list.
  • Use a static filter for functions related to the navigation (e.g. if finding an item out of a large list is the regular operation).
  • Use a dynamic filter when the operation is part of the workflow (e.g. to just have fast access to an item).

Behavior

  • Make the operation as simple as possible. For instance, do not apply multi-dimensional filtering or do not use logical operators for input.
  • Perform filter operations always instantaneously.
  • Run operation case insensitive, unless it is important.
  • Make input control large enough to show at least 20 characters.
  • Consider to provide auto complete feature to the input based on previous operations.
  • Do not mix static and dynamic filters in one dialog.

Static filter

  • Do not apply a short-cut to open or close the input. Consider to have an option in the menu under 'view' or the configuration.
  • Do not clear the filter on context change.
  • If a Plasmoid or Plasma dialog has a filter capability, always use a static filter since there is no menu to show or hide it.

Dynamic filter

  • Show the filter input on short-cut ctrl+I
  • Hide the filter on escape or via close icon.
  • Focus the input on alt+I (localization dependent) and on ctrl+I.
  • By default clear the filter input when the content is changed. But consider to provide a sticky function and keep the filter until it is cleared explicitly. With this option users do not need to research after selecting or referencing an item.
  • If necessary, provide a combo box for multiple selection with at least the option to a) run the filter case-sensitive and b) to highlight all.

Appearance

  • Label the input with 'Filter'.
  • Show the static filter input above the list of items but the dynamic filter input below the list of items to avoid jumping content.

KDE-Search StaticFilter.png KDE-Search DynamicFilter.png

  • (Yet to be defined by the VDG)

Implementation

  • (To be defined by devs)

Highlight

  • Provide a 'highlight search' for text content. It highlights occurrences of the specified string in the text.

Behavior

  • Perform highlight operations always instantaneously.
  • Make the operation as simple as possible.
  • Always add the Next/Previous buttons.
  • Run operation case insensitive by default.
  • Make input control large enough to show at least 20 characters.
  • Consider to provide auto complete feature to the input based on previous operations.
  • Provide a combo box for multiple selection with at least the options to a) run the filter case-sensitive and b) to highlight all.
  • Show the highlighter input on short-cut ctrl+F.
  • Hide the highlighter input on escape or via close icon.
  • Focus the input on alt+F (localization dependent) and on ctrl+F.
  • Provide the standard short-cuts F3/shift+F3 to go to the next/previous item.

Appearance

  • Place the input control below the content area.
  • Label the input with 'Find'.

KDE-Search Highlighter.png

  • (Yet to be defined by the VDG)

Implementation

  • (To be defined by devs)

Legacy references


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