How to effectively search in the userguide?

#1
[eluser]baZzz[/eluser]
Hi all,

As a n00b to CI (and frameworks in general) I'm relying heavily on the (excellent) user guide. However, using it search function will almost always give me just 1 result in Google and that one is the change log. That's not helping me a lot, so is there another way of searching the user guide more effectively? (Or should I built a CI app for it? ;-) )

#2
[eluser]axle_foley00[/eluser]
Hello BaZzz,

Welcome to CI. In all honesty, the User Guide really isn't that hard to search through. The search box in the user guide works perfectly fine in my experience and even so, the documentation is logically split up so that it's easy to find what you'd like. For example, if you want information on Controllers simply click on the tab (link) at the top called "Table of Contents" and it will slide out a menu where you can easily select the controllers link under "General". Links to libraries and Helpers are all there as well.

What exactly are you trying to search for that is so difficult to find? Perhaps we can help you to find it our at least point you in the right direction.

#3
[eluser]Pete Smith[/eluser]
Derek killed two birds with one stone over here: http://video.derekallard.com/

Not only is it a great tutorial, but it's a darned handy utility, too. I sometimes use it rather than searching the user guide...

#4
[eluser]baZzz[/eluser]
First of all, thx for replying guys.

@axle: I'll give you a few examples. I was looking for information on forms and form validation. Both searches gave me this result in Google: http://www.google.com/search?as_sitesear...tion&sa=Go
(Just one result; the change log.) A few other searches that resulted in the same page: 'md5', 'redirect' and 'set_hash'. All these words can be found in the manual, but not with Google you can't. Off course, in the end I am able to find my answer. I downloaded CI which includes the manual, so I can always search it locally using Windows' Search function *juck!*. The ToC is usable too, but still, a search function should be able to find me those words, don't you think? From a usability standpoint it (imho) would be better to leave it out completely at this point.

@Pete: Agree, I found that page as well. But still, it's not as complete as the user guide, so it cannot replace it.

#5
[eluser]linuxbz[/eluser]
@baZzz: As I understand it, the source code for the User Guide is just as you see it ... plain HTML with some JavaScript added. So it would be difficult to produce a real index from it. Indexing is an art form that should be on the endangered species list anyway.

A more focused question is: why is the Google search returning such crappy results? I tried just searching for 'validation' and got only the changelog and trackback pages, even though there is a whole page by that name that has the word on it numerous times.

Is Google search really that crappy, or is there an issue with perhaps paranoid robots.txt files on the website. I agree with you that if it can't do any better than that, it would be better to leave it out.

#6
[eluser]axle_foley00[/eluser]
BaZzz:

Okay I see what you are saying now and yes I do agree the search function should be able to find those words on all the pages it is mentioned in the guide.

I'm not sure if it has been raised with EllisLab before, but perhaps it would be good to mention it, so that it can be fixed or changed. Thanks for bringing it to the attention of others.

#7
[eluser]Derek Allard[/eluser]
Hey Guys.

Linuxbz is right (as usual). The userguide is static, manually edited html. I believe the logic here is ease of distribution. So we can't build a search per se. It does seem odd that Google is giving such crumby results. It isn't the result of a robots file though (check for yourself). I'm not sure why Google wouldn't index it as good as it tends to index other pages. We use the same technique for the ExpressionEngine userguide, and its results are excellent. I wonder if Google just needs to re-spider it?

I'll see if I can't kick its butt. Maybe an xml-sitemap would help it along.

oh, and BaZzz... welcome to CI! You're going to love it.

#8
[eluser]baZzz[/eluser]
Thx Derek, loving it already! :-)

And guess what?! I figured out what's going wrong with the search! If you Google for "site:www.ellislab.com/codeigniter/user-guide/" (which is used by the search function as well), you only get 23 results. However, searching for "site:ellislab.com/codeigniter/user-guide/" (that's without the www. in front) gives back 104 results! So apparently most pages are indexed without the 'www.'. I've tried it already and the search is producing far better results if you leave it out.
Check it yourself, search for 'validation' as it is right now and do this, search for 'validation' while leaving out the www..

Can you fix the search for us?

#9
[eluser]linuxbz[/eluser]
Good work, baZzz! Searching for 'validation' using the search box gets two useless responses. If you edit, in the address bar, removing the 'www.', you get 13 good results, including the pages I would have thought of looking at.

So, Derek, how hard is it to remove 'www.' from the search string?

#10
[eluser]Derek Allard[/eluser]
Good catch indeed. I've removed the www from the search string, but currently that is only in the SVN. It'll go "live" when the next version of CI comes out in the near-ish future.


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