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(Archived) "Bug" in search feature


soundsgoodtome

Idea

A while back, I created a note entitled "favorite acoustic-guitar sample," and today I needed to find that note. So, I searched on the word "guitar" -- but nothing came up. I knew it was there, so this left me quite confused. Finally, I thought of another word that was likely to be in the note, searched on that word, and found the note.

This suggested that Evernote may not have been recognizing the word "guitar," since it was preceeded by a hyphen. So, I removed the hypen and performed the search again, which worked as expected. However, after replacing the hyphen, I expected the note would, once again, not be found when I searched on the word "guitar." But to my surprise, the note is in fact now being found (even with the hyphen).

I'd have felt better if this were a consistent, easily-reproduceable bug. But this inconsistent behavior is more disturbing. :-) I wonder what caused the note not to be found at first, and I'm nervous about what other searches might return incomplete results, due to similar anomalies.

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Well, no, Google isn't responsible for all the data on the Internet. Evernote is responsible for my notes. Gmail would be a better parallel. If I had an email at Gmail and I couldn't find it, then I would feel concerned.

The basic model of Evernote to me is this: You can create notes anywhere and retrieve them anywhere. To retrieve a note you just type what you want into the little box, and the note appears by magic.

But if the note has a hyphen in the title, then that model breaks down. If I type in spider-man, I expect to get my note entitled "Spider-Man", but I don't. I think that is clearly a bug.

The fix would be simple: don't treat internal hyphens as search operators.

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The basic model of Evernote to me is this: You can create notes anywhere and retrieve them anywhere. To retrieve a note you just type what you want into the little box, and the note appears by magic.

But if the note has a hyphen in the title, then that model breaks down. If I type in spider-man, I expect to get my note entitled "Spider-Man", but I don't. I think that is clearly a bug.

You're free to think what you like but the truth of the matter is that a hyphen is a delimiter in the EN search, unless you enclose it in quotation marks. It would be good to simply accept that fact & move on. It's rather on par with typing in "spyder" & wondering why any notes with "spider" don't show up.

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You're free to think what you like but the truth of the matter is that a hyphen is a delimiter in the EN search, unless you enclose it in quotation marks. It would be good to simply accept that fact & move on. . .

Or, Evernote could recognize that this particular Search syntax is very counter-intuitive and make a change.

It seems to me that the OP's suggestion of requiring a whitespace before a hyphen to treat it as an operator makes a lot of good, common, sense.

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You're free to think what you like but the truth of the matter is that a hyphen is a delimiter in the EN search, unless you enclose it in quotation marks. It would be good to simply accept that fact & move on. It's rather on par with typing in "spyder" & wondering why any notes with "spider" don't show up.

The problem isn't that it's a delimiter. The problem is that it's an operator. The hyphen is treated as a minus sign. It means "not". If I search for spider-man, then that means "find all notes that contain spider but not man". That guarantees my note won't get found.

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My point still stands.

Sorry, I don't understand your point. You seem be suggesting that nothing can change. I'm not sure why that would be. Perhaps Evernote is in a state of perfection, and therefore any change could only be detrimental? I would agree that Evernote is very good indeed, but anyone who uses bullet points extensively knows that it is not in a state of perfection. :D

I don't understand the point about "spyder" at all.

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I don't understand the point about "spyder" at all.

It's the same point Jeff made:

when I type a search into Google, say, and it doesn't return what I think it ought to, I don't first assume that Google has lost the Internet. I assume that I've typed something wrong, or not understood the tool I'm using (i.e. search syntax). .

If you're not using the correct search syntax (or words - in my example, spyder), then you're going to have incorrect results. This is not the fault of the app but rather a user error. Now you know how to search for "spider-man". Sometimes, you just have to adapt. (shrug) Ever since I've used Quicken (~15 years), if I want to past something into a memo field, I often use CTRL-V. And ever since I've used Quicken CTRL-V voids the entry. Bugs me and after all these years, I still occasionally do this. But that's the way the program works & I can either adapt (no big deal, really) or decide it's a deal breaker & move to another program. (shrug) That's part of every day life.

Sorry, I don't understand your point. You seem be suggesting that nothing can change. .

Not at all. I'm saying that's the way it's worked for the three years it's been in existence. It's not impossible that EN would ever change it but I'd say the chances are slim that if they decide to do that, it will be a long time coming.

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That's a rather fatalistic attitude. Things are the way they are, therefore get used to them. Don't try to improve anything.

(That search behavior was good enough for my father, and for his father before him! We'll have no talk around here about changing it, thank you very much!)

Personally, for me, I don't really care. I have the work-around now (use quotes). It's an annoyance, but a minor one, and I can live with it.

I predict however that it will continue to confuse users, and it will cause negative perceptions in their minds about the product.

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What is the status of the bug? I hope it wasn't just resolved as invalid because hyphen is a search operator.

It is really unintuitive to think of an internal hyphen as a search operator. If I search for "Spider-Man", I don't expect to search for Spider NOT Man".

That is something that I found confusing. In fact I thought that Evernote had lost a note that I had created. The note had a hyphen in the title and I couldn't find it again. That's really bad for confidence. I don't need to tell you that data integrity is of crucial importance to your customers.

I think that the hyphen should only be a search operator if it is preceded by whitespace.

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That's a rather fatalistic attitude. Things are the way they are, therefore get used to them. Don't try to improve anything.

(That search behavior was good enough for my father, and for his father before him! We'll have no talk around here about changing it, thank you very much!).

Oh, please. (eye roll) As I said, I can't say it will never change. I have no say in the matter. I have no inside information. But yes, I do try to make great software work for me, even when I have to do something that may not be intuitive to ME. Or that may take me a few more steps in order to produce great results.

Personally, for me, I don't really care. I have the work-around now (use quotes). It's an annoyance, but a minor one, and I can live with it..

That's great. Although it's technically not a workaround. It's using the tool the way it's designed.

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Look (when you've finished rolling your eyes), I'm not trying to convince you. A bug was raised for this issue in 2008 by Dave Engberg (see the second message in this thread). I was asking about the status of that bug. But apparently in order to do that I have to do battle with the local evangelists first, whose sole purpose it seems is to try to shut down discussion rather than to add to it.

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* if you want to search for a string that includes a '-', enclose the string in double quotes (e.g. "spider-man")

* Search facilities have nothing to do with data integrity.

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A bug was raised for this issue in 2008 by Dave Engberg (see the second message in this thread). I was asking about the status of that bug. But apparently in order to do that I have to do battle with the local evangelists first, whose sole purpose it seems is to try to shut down discussion rather than to add to it.

For bugs, the right way to get them addressed at this time, as nearly as I can tell, is to file a support inquiry. You should reference this thread, so that they know that a ticket's been filed against the issue. You can get support on the forums, both from Evernote staff (though that's pretty hit or miss) or from other users (and BurgersNFries has done a huge amount of that, and continues), but this one's a bit beyond that -- and a reminder to the tech staff via a support inquiry might be helpful.

For the rest, nobody's trying to shut any discussions down, and nobody's really doing battle (don't forget that everyone has the option to simply walk away from any discussions if they feel it's not productive), but I think if you read what's been said about the actual issue, you'd see that nobody actually cares for the way it works now. But none of us users can fix the problem, and since there's a viable workaround, that's good enough for me. Call that fatalism if you wish; I call it being realistic. And that's not the same as wanting Evernote to stay the same, warts and all; there's ample evidence that even the evangelists want Evernote to get better, if you care to look for it rather than just assuming it.

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* Yes, thanks, I know now that I have to jump through that particular little hoop. But I only know that because I came here to the forum. Most people wouldn't do that. It's a very unintuitive "feature".

* You miss my point. My point was about perceived data integrity issues. I created a note that contained a hyphen in the title, but when I went to search for it later, I didn't find it because of the hyphen issue. That raised doubts in my mind about data integrity because I thought that the note had possibly been lost. Yes, it's true that those doubts turned out to be unfounded, but my point is that doubts in the minds of customers is not a good thing.

I noticed after I posted my message that some fellow in another thread was complaining about data integrity. He couldn't give any details unfortunately. Maybe something similar happened to him. Who knows.

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Maybe, but when I type a search into Google, say, and it doesn't return what I think it ought to, I don't first assume that Google has lost the Internet. I assume that I've typed something wrong, or not understood the tool I'm using (i.e. search syntax). If I care that much, I'll go and find out what's happening: first try to figure out the correct search syntax, and if I think I am correct, then I'll tell Google that I want my Internet back. What "most people" may or not do is of little concern to me; you either seek out the answer to your question (the forum isn't that hard to find) or file a support inquiry (what you do if you think that Evernote is broken or has lost your data).

In any case, I do agree that what Evernote does with the '-' in the middle of an unquoted search string is a bit awkward. The API does specify that search strings are split on whitespace and punctuation, and while the '-' also cause a split, it's retained and used in its match-notes-that-do-not-have-the-following-text sense, rather than being dropped entirely as other punctuation characters are. I also think that the search behavior could be better, and more publicly documented. I don't think that you should need to go to the API to figure this stuff out, and while I thought that the Knowledge Base was a good start, it hasn't really grown as much as I'd hoped.

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