5月 262011
 
My friend Leslie posted this comment as her Facebook status: "There are no answers, just the search." At first I thought, "Now that is just silly. Of course there are answers." Then I thought about it a little more. Maybe she is right.

The Customer Support Website has hundreds of thousands of content pieces. Each piece could answer someone's question. But it isn't an answer until two things happen: 1) someone has a question, and 2) they find the content in time to be helpful.

I've talked about this before, but I'll say it again. Each person you meet will have their own way of locating content. No method is wrong. No method is THE way either. The possibilities are staggering. Over time, I have or will talk about many ways to locate and share content. But today, it's about the search.

Latest Update


Many of you went to work on May 18th, 2011, accessed support.sas.com, and discovered new search features. Judging by your comments, some of you like the changes, some of you are still discovering them, and others could use a little help getting the most out of these changes. I'm here to help.

As an aside, I'd like to thank those of you who sent in comments. Your comments helped us identify issues. Some we have already fixed. Some we are still working on. And some are being evaluated for later updates. Don't rely on your friends to comment. Tell us what you like and what you don't.

To make this a little easier, I'm going to divide these explorations into multiple posts. This post is going to focus on general layout, date sorting, and display options.

General Layout


The most noticeable change comes in the page design and layout. Ladies and gentlemen, the new search results page:

search layout

To see and experience these features, go to support.sas.com and type "keyboard shortcuts" in the search field at the top of the page. Submit the search.

Section 5 lists the items that match your search term. This part of the results page didn't change much. Two differences to note. We increased the default number of items displayed. Now you can quickly scroll through the top 25 results. If an item is a component of a book, the title of the complete book is shown in bold just under the title of the item. You can see an example of this in the first result.

If the top 25 results aren't enough, Section 3 makes it easy for you to move back and forth within all of the pages of results.

If the top 25 results are plenty but you want to reduce the amount of scrolling required, select the Hide results summaries option shown in Section 4. This is a toggle that will shrink the results display and show only the title of each item returned -- a handy feature when you have a very good idea of the item you need.

Not sure how many results there are or what you searched for? Section 7 is a display field that shows the term or phase for which you searched as well as the number of results returned. Many times, you will see 1 - 25 of top 500, which indicates that there are a lot of results for your query. If you don't see a good result candidate in the first few results, visit Section 1 to focus on a subset of the results or Section 2 to refine your search.

There is one more option for modifying your display. In Section 6, you can change the sort order from one related to the relevance of item to a sort order based on date. The sort order that is in effect is displayed in bold. To change the sort order, select the option displayed in blue. Sorting by date can be very effective when searching conference papers (we know them by year) or for content relevant to older releases of SAS.

Two of the biggest changes are represented in Section 1 and Section 2. Section 2 is a new tabbed structure that lets you easily access the search field to refine your search. Notice that the second tab is the Advanced Search tab. Select Advanced Search to create fantastic boolean searches or to change the number of items displayed on your results page. Switching between the tabs retains your search query so that you can refine your search as often as necessary. Read this earlier post for more information about advanced search.

Section 1 is what this is all about: the ability to drill through the sections of the site to learn which section contains the most search results for your term. In our example, the Knowledge Base contains the most results with 49. Select Knowledge Base to reveal that 35 of the results are part of the SAS documentation, 8 results are papers and 6 are a Sample or a SAS Note. You will also notice when you select Knowledge Base that the results displayed in Section 5 now only reflect those 49 items. Because there are so many great uses of this Subset feature, I'll talk about it more in a later post.

Whew. Is this a blog post or a novella? Give the search a try and tell me what you think. I can't wait to hear.

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