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mgpmul

Incorrect examples in Evernote's documentation on Search Grammar

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Because I was having unexpected search results in Evernote, I started to read https://dev.evernote.com/doc/articles/search_grammar.php

I was especially interested in the section "Matching Literal Terms".

The examples suggest that Evernote does whole word search (if no wildcards are used).
This is not correct. Maybe it has changed over time?Evernote_SearchGrammer_02.jpg.c4ce715dd9858cb26037733a94a5982c.jpg

'potato'  (without quotes) matches "Sweet Potato Pie" AND "Mash four potatoes together" and "lotofpotatoes"

See my annotated screenshots attached.
Please correct the erroneous (therefor confusing) examples in Evernote's documentation on Search Grammer

Evernote_SearchGrammer_03.jpg

Evernote_SearchGrammer_01.jpg

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Windows client, correct?

OK, so the first one ("potatoes")  is a Windows client addition: it silently adds a '*' to a literal search term, making it a wildcard. It's been this way for years. This causes a note with "potatoes" in it to match. This sort of thing is useful to some, but inconsistent with the documentation, as you've noted. I don't know which, if any, other Evernote clients do this.

Second one ("ever"); this does not cause a match, despite what your example seems to show. The note matches because "ever" is contained in it. Beyond that, though, inside the matching note, note search takes over to do the highlighting, and that uses different rules, so the "ever" in "forevernote" gets highlighted (i.e., same logic as used by Ctrl+F search). Try making a note that contains just "forevernote", and it will not be matched in a search on "ever" Confusing, I understand, but the note matching is consistent with the documentation as far as I can tell.

Third one (""-potato"): I can't explain this. Might be a bug, or a consequence of adding a '*' to the search term, I'm not sure. Edit: I take it back; this appears to work. Make a note containing just: "Mash four potatoes together". Now do your search for "-potato". The note will match, as documented.  Now change "potatoes" in the note to "potato", and run the same search. The note will not match.

 

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Thank you for this insight in the search algorithm of Evernote. It gives me some context that will help me explain the search results I have.
I am not sure yet whether I am glad with the result. To me, it makes the search result kind of unpredictable, and I am getting worried, as my note base is growing quite fast, that I won't be able to find back notes in the future.

As for the first one ("potatoes"), fine with me. I didn't know that Windows did add the wildcard implicitly.
Can by annoying, can be useful. I am fine with it.
One note about Evernote's documentation though: '... which means that the same search should produce the same results on all systems.'
It might need a review, because it is not true. Maybe mention a few known issues like this one for Windows? This applies to a lot of users, I assume.

For the second one ("ever"): this behavior upsets me. It means that it depends on the context of a note (whether the word 'ever' appears in it or not), whether strings like 'forever' will be found or not. This makes me anxious that I won't be able to find back notes in the future.
It is confusing, because sometimes 'forever' matches (is highligthed) and sometimes not. I now understand why: it is because the <Ctrl-F> search takes over after Evernote found one matching WORD, not a substring.

The third one ("-potato"): It works as you say. For me the same confusion: depending on note context, the outcome of the search is different.

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I have just logged a bug "Search no longer works as documented for text matching without quotes." because the unquoted search is no longer working on the web client either.

 

support ticket #2767048

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@mgpmul: Unfortunately, our dev.evernote.com website is woefully out-of-date. As was noted above, search functionality in particular has kind of fragmented with each client having slightly different behavior.

Updating the dev website, our developer APIs, and having a more seamless UI/experience across all our apps is definitely part of what we're focusing on this year, as was laid out by the new CEO.

I know this probably doesn't help with your current issues, but I at least wanted to let you know it is on our radar. We've got a LOT to fix to give our users a better experience.

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52 minutes ago, Scott T. said:

Unfortunately, our dev.evernote.com website is woefully out-of-date. As was noted above, search functionality in particular has kind of fragmented with each client having slightly different behavior.

In fairness, the search format documented there is largely intended for developers; i.e., folks using the SDK, and by and large it's definitive for that purpose, as far as I know, and a good place to start for search queries in general. It's my first goto for search issues. But you're right about the fact that individual clients have their own little 'helpful' discrepancies, and those should certainly be documented more completely, possibly there but definitely in the more client-oriented page here: https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/208313828-How-to-use-Evernote-s-advanced-search-syntax.

All this, and not to forget the inconsistencies between the search results and the in-note search... :) 

Maybe the clients should have a "strict search" mode that uses the search API in a way that conforms to the Search Grammar specification.

Quote

Updating the dev website, our developer APIs, and having a more seamless UI/experience across all our apps is definitely part of what we're focusing on this year, as was laid out by the new CEO.

I think that this is a good direction to take. 

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"woefully out-of-date" 
That is an understatement!

I first noticed the potato search issue back on July 31, 2009. 

Over the years, there have been many confusing and conflicting stabs from users attempting to explain the Evernote potato logic. 

But as we have been told many times before, Evernote staff read every single one of our posts.  They'll get around to it.

After 10 years, my comment is:
Yeah, sure... I'll believe it when I see it.
 

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12 hours ago, jbenson2 said:

Evernote potato logic

Nothing to contribute. Just want to say I love that phrase. Might get it on a T-shirt.

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23 hours ago, jefito said:

All this, and not to forget the inconsistencies between the search results and the in-note search...

And the fact that PDFs in search results aren't the same between Windows desktop and the web (shows up in IOS searches as well).  Can't fully trust an IOS search.

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