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

KDE-Search KMail.png

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. The tooltipp lists all selections. The search dialog makes use of a dual list pattern.

Search

  • Use a search function to generate results based on various sources with sufficient options.
  • Always provide search function via extra secondary dialog.

Behavior

  • Show hints on how to use the search effectively.
  • Run a combined AND search when two words have been entered unless the term is quoted (e.g. Hello World vs "Hello World")
  • Follow the guidelines on delayed operations if the search takes longer.

Appearance

  • (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.
  • Do not overload the simple filter function by options. If necessary, provide an additional search.

Behavior

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

Appearance

  • Show the filter pattern above the list of items.
  • Use Ctrl+H to show/hide the input.
  • Do not hide the input if the filter is an essential part of the application, i.e. when the list of items usually is large.
  • If a Plasmoid or Plasma dialog has a filter capability, always show the filter bar since there is no menu to show or hide it.
  • Show 'Search...' as place holder unless the control is focused.

Implementation

  • (To be defined by devs)

Highlight

  • Provide 'highlight search' when the content is relevant.
  • Do not overload the simple highlight function by options. If necessary, provide an additional search.

Behavior

  • Perform highlight operations always instantaneously.
  • Make the operation as simple as possible. Do not add options.
  • Run operation case insensitive.
  • Make input control large enough to show at least 20 characters.
  • Consider to provide auto complete feature to the input based on previous operations.

Appearance

  • Place the input control at the bottom of the content area.
  • Hide the input by default.
  • Active the control and focus it on ctrl+F, and use F3/Shift+F3 to go to the next/previous item (cf. HIG about short-cuts).

Implementation

  • (To be defined by devs)

Legacy references


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