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Evernote for Mac 5.5 Beta 1 - Natural Language Search

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We've got a very exciting release for you today! The latest beta has Natural Language Search. Try searching by location, time, or file type. Let us know what you think!

 

Release Notes

Find what you want in the most natural way ever. Search your notes by place (“Tokyo”), file contents (“Documents” or “Images”), date ranges and more. 
 
Searches to try:
“created last week”
“notes with PDFs”
“notes from Paris”
“recipes”
 
This feature is currently available in English only.
 
Bug fixes:
- Fixed: Screenshots including Quick Note Helper window
- Various bug and stability fixes
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Ok, Jack. First question: is this a new search language as supported by the servers, or is this done local to the client? Inquiring minds, you know. :)

 

...and more to the point: what's the syntax of the new query language? Is it documented?

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Just wanted to get in early and say "why is it not on windows/android/blackberry/linux/OS/2? You guys love apple too much" etc etc. Should save those people from posting.

 

Anyway, the PDF example you gave seems to work, the location one doesn't seem to work at all. If I pick locations that show up in Atlas and search for them I get no notes returned.

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Should save those people from posting.

Huh, and what are your feelings on the tooth fairy? :)
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This is a public beta, right? Just checking. I'll give the natural search a try today. Good job keeping the innovations coming.

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This is a public beta, right? Just checking. I'll give the natural search a try today. Good job keeping the innovations coming.

 

It's available through the app so I guess that means it's public.

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Nope. Not really exciting at all. I am not sure, but I think this is the most underwhelming beta ever, actually. Or second most. 

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PGD, you obviously didn't get a way to search for all the gifs in your account :)

 

Speaking of GIFs, it's not mentioned, but does this fix the "clipper grabs an animated GIF but fails to make it animated while in Evernote" bug? — am I barking up the wrong tree?

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For folks who like natural language search rather than the current search language, this actually could be an exciting beta. Searching for all gif files is painful, unless you know the MIME type of a .gif file off the top of your head (I don't).

 

I'm pretty sure that the Windows client supports animated gif files, for what it's worth...

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Mac definitely supports gifs. macfixer was referring to the clipper clipping static versions of images. 

 

Search for "Office Docs" in the equivalent search grammar looks like this: http://note.io/1hRrDG7

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So what am i doing wrong with my location search?

 

I've tried 

 

- notes from x

- "notes from x"

- from x

- "from x"

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@jefito - The beauty of Natural Search is to move away from the burden of remembering a search syntax. We are trying to make search more intuitive, easy and fun for our users so they can rediscover their memories in a more natural and seamless manner. For example if you wanted to find that one meal you had in San Francisco last week, you should be able to say just that in the search box.

This is currently implemented client side.

 


Unfortunately theres a bug in the current beta which doesn't trigger the required reindex that is needed to make the location search work. This will be fixed in the coming beta. 

While we would absolutely love for you to test location search out right now, to make this work for the current beta you would have to force a complete reindex of your account; which depending on the size of your account might take VERY LONG and we don't recommend (should be done AT YOUR OWN RISK).


 

Some of the other searches you can do are:

Date Ranges: today / yesterday / this week / last week / this month / ..

Apps : "notes from food" / "skitches" / "penultimate" / ..

Documents: pdfs / office documents / spreadsheets / presentations / keynote / .. 

Source : web clips / email / mobile / iphone

Images / jpg / gifs / Audio / wav / mp3 .. 

If you have notes that you have scanned via the Scan Snap Evernote Edition, you can simply type ' scanned notes'. 

 

There is a whole lot more planned for coming releases as well, but would love to hear things that you would want the ability to search by as well.

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@jefito - The beauty of Natural Search is to move away from the burden of remembering a search syntax. We are trying to make search more intuitive, easy and fun for our users so they can rediscover their memories in a more natural and seamless manner. For example if you wanted to find that one meal you had in San Francisco last week, you should be able to say just that in the search box.

Yep, I get that, but being a longtime developer geek, it's usually just easier for me to stick to a less natural language -- the Evernote search grammar is mostly pretty simple to use, except for those pesky resource MIME strings (which I don't use all that often). I do think that anything you folks can do to make things easier for everyone to be able to find their stuff in Evernote is generally a good thing.

This is currently implemented client side.

That would have been my guess. I am a Windows and Android user, so I won't be seeing the new stuff for awhile.

Some of the other searches you can do are:

Date Ranges: today / yesterday / this week / last week / this month / ..

Apps : "notes from food" / "skitches" / "penultimate" / ..

Documents: pdfs / office documents / spreadsheets / presentations / keynote / .. 

Source : web clips / email / mobile / iphone

Images / jpg / gifs / Audio / wav / mp3 .. 

If you have notes that you have scanned via the Scan Snap Evernote Edition, you can simply type ' scanned notes'. 

 

There is a whole lot more planned for coming releases as well, but would love to hear things that you would want the ability to search by as well.

That's all cool stuff, and of interest in general, too -- can you mix'n'match with the formal search language, as well? (I'm guessing not, but it doesn't hurt to ask). I think that a whole lot of people would want mixed AND / OR searches. :)

Thanks for the info!

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I don't understand. Everything I put into the search has failed: "notes created yesterday," "created yesterday," and "updated last week." Is there a trick to this? OR, is it possibly because I am running Evernote in a Japanese language environment? My searches are all in English, of course, so I would think that it would work, but maybe not.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of "natural" searches myself, but I get it -- we want everyone to be able to play the game, even if they aren't willing, interested, or able to learn specialized search commands. "Intitle" never seemed terribly complex to me, but a NYT article that came out yesterday said that Evernote had a bewildering variety of features and a confusing interface (!?), so I guess I am wandering around way beyond the pale thinking it is still too simplistic! I also didn't know that Evernote now has folders :)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/12/technology/personaltech/getting-organized-with-evernote.html?_r=0

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There is a whole lot more planned for coming releases as well, but would love to hear things that you would want the ability to search by as well.

 

 

I hope Evernote, at least, gives a tip of their hat to independent developer Robert Oschler who accomplished these natural language searches (and much, much more) with his program BitQwik that linked with Evernote Windows over a year ago.

 

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There is a whole lot more planned for coming releases as well, but would love to hear things that you would want the ability to search by as well.

 

I hope Evernote, at least, gives a tip of their hat to independent developer Robert Oschler who accomplished these natural language searches (and much, much more) with his program BitQwik that linked with Evernote Windows over a year ago.

Well, I don't know if they can "officially" do that, but it would be really cool if they could somehow reach out to him and get him back on board as a developer. I know he was really enthusiastic about the app and had a following. He certainly managed to do a tremendous amount with search in the Windows environment.

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Like metrodon and grumpy, I have found it inconsistent. Sometimes when I write:

"Notes tagged expenses in receipts notebook" or any permutation of that phrase or similar it is properly parsed and shows results or suggests a previous successful search, but most of the time it produces no results and no suggestion.

Will play more and report with details

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I don't understand. Everything I put into the search has failed: "notes created yesterday," "created yesterday," and "updated last week." Is there a trick to this? OR, is it possibly because I am running Evernote in a Japanese language environment? My searches are all in English, of course, so I would think that it would work, but maybe not.

 

We currently support English locale only so if you are running Evernote in Japanese language environment it wouldn't work (even though the searches are all in English). We do plan to increase support for additional languages in coming releases.

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I don't understand. Everything I put into the search has failed: "notes created yesterday," "created yesterday," and "updated last week." Is there a trick to this? OR, is it possibly because I am running Evernote in a Japanese language environment? My searches are all in English, of course, so I would think that it would work, but maybe not.

 

We currently support English locale only so if you are running Evernote in Japanese language environment it wouldn't work (even though the searches are all in English). We do plan to increase support for additional languages in coming releases.

 

 

Gotcha. That explains the problem, then. 

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Like metrodon and grumpy, I have found it inconsistent. Sometimes when I write:

"Notes tagged expenses in receipts notebook" or any permutation of that phrase or similar it is properly parsed and shows results or suggests a previous successful search, but most of the time it produces no results and no suggestion.

Will play more and report with details

 

Please continue playing - a year ago, you guys had a knowledgeable, enthusiastic independent developer of Natural Language working on these Evernote issues.

 

BitQwik handled a huge range of Natural Language searches from:

the simple:

Notes that have bacon in the title

 

to the complex:

Created last month that are not tagged with volleyball or super sports

 

to the more complex:

Notes I created in Outlook that do not have photographs and that were modified after last Friday

 

to the mind-blowing:

Created last month and updated between May 1 and May 15 but are not tagged with bacon bits or bean bags and have the word robot and garage band but not dogs in the title that were made using Microsoft Word

 

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Two requests I think are too good to give up on :)

 

1. Click the elephant icon at the bottom of a note to show/hide the Related Notes

 

2. Right-click Related Notes to get a contextual menu containing actions such as "copy note link" 

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BitQwik handled a huge range of Natural Language searches from:

the simple:

Notes that have bacon in the title

 

to the complex:

Created last month that are not tagged with volleyball or super sports

 

to the more complex:

Notes I created in Outlook that do not have photographs and that were modified after last Friday

 

to the mind-blowing:

Created last month and updated between May 1 and May 15 but are not tagged with bacon bits or bean bags and have the word robot and garage band but not dogs in the title that were made using Microsoft Word

 

 

 

JB, those searches are very impressive.

 

Two questions:

  1. Did they work as expected, given the somewhat ambiguous nature of the "and" and "or" syntax?
  2. Did you find it easy, or should I say "natural", to compose these searches?

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@jefito - The beauty of Natural Search is to move away from the burden of remembering a search syntax. We are trying to make search more intuitive, easy and fun for our users so they can rediscover their memories in a more natural and seamless manner. For example if you wanted to find that one meal you had in San Francisco last week, you should be able to say just that in the search box.
This is currently implemented client side.
 
Unfortunately theres a bug in the current beta which doesn't trigger the required reindex that is needed to make the location search work. This will be fixed in the coming beta. 
While we would absolutely love for you to test location search out right now, to make this work for the current beta you would have to force a complete reindex of your account; which depending on the size of your account might take VERY LONG and we don't recommend (should be done AT YOUR OWN RISK).
 
Some of the other searches you can do are:
Date Ranges: today / yesterday / this week / last week / this month / ..
Apps : "notes from food" / "skitches" / "penultimate" / ..
Documents: pdfs / office documents / spreadsheets / presentations / keynote / .. 
Source : web clips / email / mobile / iphone
Images / jpg / gifs / Audio / wav / mp3 .. 
If you have notes that you have scanned via the Scan Snap Evernote Edition, you can simply type ' scanned notes'. 
 
There is a whole lot more planned for coming releases as well, but would love to hear things that you would want the ability to search by as well.

 

 

Zeesha, this is very impressive, if it works.  :-)

 

Frankly, with so many variations in the English language, not to mention expressions and slang, this seems like a huge design/programming task.

 

I guess the one area that would be of high interest to me, and many others I think, is the support of full, complex, boolean expressions. 

Do you now, or do you plan to, support this? 

What about use of parenthesis?

Do plan to support lists, like "Notes with Tags Evernote, Mac, Search" ?

 

As long as you are opening up the Search grammar for suggestions, what about making use of Tag hierarchy?

  • For example, suppose I had the following Tag hierarchy:
    • Evernote
      • Mac
      • Win
      • iOS
  • I would like to search for all Notes that have at least one tag in the "Evernote" hierarchy.
  • So maybe my grammar would be:  "Notes with any Tag in Tag Evernote"
  • Now let me make it a bit more complex:  "Notes with any Tag in Tag Evernote except Win"

If you want more discussion and examples, there are a number of topics in forums requesting the use of Tag hierarchy in searches.

 

Thanks for taking a such a challenging task.  I wish you guys much success.

 

I do have one special request:  Please TEST this thoroughly before you release it as a GA.  I think there are lots of opportunities for bugs in this type of feature.

 

Again, good luck.

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I also want to mention one other thing with regard to Tags.

 

How will you support tags with non-letters in the tag name, like EN.Mac, or EN-Mac ?

Many of us have become quite creative with tag names to help us in naming, remembering, and searching for tags.

Would we need to put any tag names with non-letters in quotes?

For example:  Notes with Tag "EN.Mac" or "EN.iOS"

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BitQwik handled a huge range of Natural Language searches from:

the simple:

Notes that have bacon in the title

 

to the complex:

Created last month that are not tagged with volleyball or super sports

 

to the more complex:

Notes I created in Outlook that do not have photographs and that were modified after last Friday

 

to the mind-blowing:

Created last month and updated between May 1 and May 15 but are not tagged with bacon bits or bean bags and have the word robot and garage band but not dogs in the title that were made using Microsoft Word

 

 

 

JB, those searches are very impressive.

 

Two questions:

  1. Did they work as expected, given the somewhat ambiguous nature of the "and" and "or" syntax?
  2. Did you find it easy, or should I say "natural", to compose these searches?

 

 

  1. Yes, I saved them from the BitQwik website and then ran them with changes to reflect my own Evernote tags and notebooks. They worked, but I can't say I fully understood how they worked. It would have been fun to get behind the code to see how it was done.
  2. There was a learning curve. I usually saved my searches into an Evernote note for future use. That is also what I do with Evernote search grammar today.
  3. He also developed another program called Tag Hunter that did a wonderful job of managing and analyzing my tags.  One neat trick allowed me to export my tags to a spreadsheet. Then I could sort them to find the low-quantity tags.

 

What impressed me even more than the program was Robert's speed of response.

When someone suggested a new feature, he frequently came back with an implementation in a day or less.

When he said he would do it "soon", he actually meant it.

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BitQwik was pretty ambitious and useful. However, it was a third party app working outside of Evernote, so it wasn't constrained by some of the rules Evernote follows, and could manipulate data freely. In answer to JM's question about the search grammar, my guess is that because everything is client-side, it is really just translating natural English into the advanced search grammar, so on the back-end nothing has changed. They are, in effect, two completely different solutions, and it is unlikely we will see the BitQwik functionality anytime soon from Evernote. This is an area where third party app developers have an advantage and can really benefit. Unfortunately for Windows folks, the data isn't as easily accessible as it is on the Mac, so they have to go through the API (as I understand it). This was the obstacle BitQwik ran into.

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BitQwik was pretty ambitious and useful. However, it was a third party app working outside of Evernote, so it wasn't constrained by some of the rules Evernote follows, and could manipulate data freely. In answer to JM's question about the search grammar, my guess is that because everything is client-side, it is really just translating natural English into the advanced search grammar, so on the back-end nothing has changed. They are, in effect, two completely different solutions, and it is unlikely we will see the BitQwik functionality anytime soon from Evernote. This is an area where third party app developers have an advantage and can really benefit. Unfortunately for Windows folks, the data isn't as easily accessible as it is on the Mac, so they have to go through the API (as I understand it). This was the obstacle BitQwik ran into.

A developer can get fancier search logic than the strict Evernote search language allows by composing the results of standard Evernote searches from the standard API. The trick is making the Evernote client display those results. I think that the difficulty that Roschler has is that he was using a "secret" (and unsupported) COM API to display the results in the Evernote client, and Evernote changed it (pretty much a no-no in Windows world, even for private interfaces, from everything I recall about COM). But I don't think that he was doing anything but use the standard API to get the results.
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Does Evernote have any documentation or instruction for natural language search?  Seems to me it would be a huge time waster to try to figure it out.  How is it the same as or different from Google search?

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I'm one of those folks for whom this seems not to be working, at all.  Using the example from OP I get "matches" that include the string "PDF" (or "PDFs" if I try that search), but it isn't picking up the hundreds of notes which actually have attached PDF documents.

 

Is there some special way one must invoke the NLSearch?  Is there the swinging of a chicken around my head involved?  :D

 

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I hope Evernote, at least, gives a tip of their hat to independent developer Robert Oschler who accomplished these natural language searches (and much, much more) with his program BitQwik that linked with Evernote Windows over a year ago.

 

 

 

We appreciate the contributions that each one of our developers brings to our platform and a tip of our hat to all of them. Its only with their support that our platform and range of features is where it is today. 

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I'm one of those folks for whom this seems not to be working, at all.  Using the example from OP I get "matches" that include the string "PDF" (or "PDFs" if I try that search), but it isn't picking up the hundreds of notes which actually have attached PDF documents.

 

Is there some special way one must invoke the NLSearch?  Is there the swinging of a chicken around my head involved?  :D

 

George - Is your client running in an English locale environment?

When you type "pdf" in the search box, do you see the suggestion that says 'Notes with Pdfs' ? 

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We wanted Natural Search to not require much of documentation or syntax following, but we also realized that user education would be key in the adoption of this feature.

 

One of the things we tried to do with the UX when introducing this feature was to try to promote user education about this feature while using the search itself

To do so, we added the section in the search bar that says something like :

'You can also search by..' with a random natural search suggestion refreshed every so often, tailored just to your account.

Clicking the 'show more' would then show users some examples of what was possible with Natural Search. 

 

Am curious to know if any of you noticed this section or found it useful to understand more about the facets that you could search for with Natural Search.

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Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions so far, appreciate all of them. 

We are working on fixes for some of the stability and inconsistency issues brought up here.

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my guess is that because everything is client-side, it is really just translating natural English into the advanced search grammar, so on the back-end nothing has changed.

Oh, missed this the first time 'round. Yes, I think that that's probably correct. Still, it raises the question of how that's going to be replicated on other clients that use different implementation languages. At some time in the future, I want my saved natural language query to work the same on my Windows, Android and web clients...

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We wanted Natural Search to not require much of documentation or syntax following, but we also realized that user education would be key in the adoption of this feature.

 

One of the things we tried to do with the UX when introducing this feature was to try to promote user education about this feature while using the search itself

To do so, we added the section in the search bar that says something like :

'You can also search by..' with a random natural search suggestion refreshed every so often, tailored just to your account.

Clicking the 'show more' would then show users some examples of what was possible with Natural Search.

It's nice to offer suggestions to improves a user's experience, but not every user learns that way. Some people like to refer to a set of rules so that they can understand how it works and fits together, rather than hitting on different areas and trying to impute the inner design: the folk tale of the blind men and the elephant (apropos! :)) comes to mind)...
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We wanted Natural Search to not require much of documentation or syntax following, but we also realized that user education would be key in the adoption of this feature.

 

One of the things we tried to do with the UX when introducing this feature was to try to promote user education about this feature while using the search itself

To do so, we added the section in the search bar that says something like :

'You can also search by..' with a random natural search suggestion refreshed every so often, tailored just to your account.

Clicking the 'show more' would then show users some examples of what was possible with Natural Search. 

 

Am curious to know if any of you noticed this section or found it useful to understand more about the facets that you could search for with Natural Search.

 

I've never seen it, but I am working in a Japanese environment, so that might be the problem. Personally, I think user education is great, and as long as it doesn't get in my way (see my rant about the annoying popup(s) in the other threads) then I am all for it. HOWEVER, I learn with documentation. In fact, I have had to document a bunch of features / limitations for myself and other people because Evernote refuses to do it. I don't know why. You did the work, so why not lay it out for us?

 

It may not seem to matter if you imagine your end user as an elementary school kid with a couple of notes on dinosaurs, or a parent with a couple of shopping lists, but it does when you are dealing with tens of thousands of notes, trying to bring a few dozen people at your workplace on board, or deploying it in a classroom. "Discovering," for example, that each free user now has the ability to share a notebook (but only one) with modifications is a huge change (for teachers, anyhow). We shouldn't have to stumble across this stuff and report it as bugs because it isn't working for notebook number two. It's exactly this kind of stuff that really, really needs to be spelled out somewhere. I'll get down off my soapbox in a minute, just as soon as I update my blog :)

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=169

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We wanted Natural Search to not require much of documentation or syntax following, but we also realized that user education would be key in the adoption of this feature.

 

Zeesha, sorry but this seems like a contradiction in terms.  :-)

 

Throwing out a few random examples is a very poor, or at least a very SLOW, way to teach someone how to learn a new system, or, in this case, a new language.

 

You must remember that this is unlikely to to be intuitive to many people, since it is something that we rarely, if ever, have encountered in other apps.

 

While you say you don't have any grammar rules, surely there must be some limitations to your design.  Even with proper English there are many different ways of expressing a thought, and when you add in slang and local differences the number of possibilities greatly increases.

 

While I applaud your effort to make the Natural Search as broad as possible, I really thing your users would greatly benefit if you would document it, and perhaps try to educate us much like an English teacher would.  Share with us the nouns (fields), verbs (?), conjunctions (and, or), adverbs (not) that you will support.  Perhaps give some detailed examples.

 

Maybe you need to create a shared Notebook or two that you can use in your examples, and we can also use to learn with.

 

You have to remember that us humans do not have a "natural" language.  We only have the language that we are taught.  And every language has its grammar and rules.  You must teach us the Natural Search grammar and rules.

 

I just thought of a good example:  Apple Siri.  When I first tried this it didn't work too well.  It was only have studying a detailed set of examples/rules that I was able to get even good responses from Siri on the iPhone.

 

Please provide some good documentation on this feature.  Thanks.

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Attack the Grue with the lamp!

Gosh, I loved those games. Evernote should incorporate an Infocom parser, definitely... :)

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Regardless of who said what, when, and to whom, the Bitqwik development was a superb "add-on" to the windows version of EN. Evernote broke it, so they should be the ones to hold out the olive branch to Roschler and get it fixed. However, there are some things with the current search strategy that are definitely broken (think reminders for a second), that I would ike to see fixed on the way to natural language searching.

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Ideally "natural search" would learn my way of searching. I'd be OK with a pop-up (or something) of "What would you search to find this note in the future?" once in a while after creating a note. 

 

Search on the Mac is terrible. It searches everywhere in every note. While that could be useful at times, I rarely want to search the contents of my notes. 90% of the time, I want to search titles. I can rarely find anything I want without scrolling and skimming and scanning 50+ notes after first searching. I'm a teacher, so I use Evernote for my lesson plans. Each week I have a new note with the dates of the week and the word "plans" in the title. If I search the word "plans" I get every single note with the word plans anywhere in the note. Contrast that with iOS where I can literally type the first few letters of the title of a note and Evernote shows a list of notes and I get the one I want 95% of the time having only typed a few letters of the title. It's a much more satisfying experience. 

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Ideally "natural search" would learn my way of searching. I'd be OK with a pop-up (or something) of "What would you search to find this note in the future?" once in a while after creating a note. 

 

Search on the Mac is terrible. It searches everywhere in every note. While that could be useful at times, I rarely want to search the contents of my notes. 90% of the time, I want to search titles. I can rarely find anything I want without scrolling and skimming and scanning 50+ notes after first searching. I'm a teacher, so I use Evernote for my lesson plans. Each week I have a new note with the dates of the week and the word "plans" in the title. If I search the word "plans" I get every single note with the word plans anywhere in the note. Contrast that with iOS where I can literally type the first few letters of the title of a note and Evernote shows a list of notes and I get the one I want 95% of the time having only typed a few letters of the title. It's a much more satisfying experience.

Hi. Have you tried the advanced search grammar? All you type is "intitle:plans"

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Ideally "natural search" would learn my way of searching. I'd be OK with a pop-up (or something) of "What would you search to find this note in the future?" once in a while after creating a note. 

 

Search on the Mac is terrible. It searches everywhere in every note. While that could be useful at times, I rarely want to search the contents of my notes. 90% of the time, I want to search titles. I can rarely find anything I want without scrolling and skimming and scanning 50+ notes after first searching. I'm a teacher, so I use Evernote for my lesson plans. Each week I have a new note with the dates of the week and the word "plans" in the title. If I search the word "plans" I get every single note with the word plans anywhere in the note. Contrast that with iOS where I can literally type the first few letters of the title of a note and Evernote shows a list of notes and I get the one I want 95% of the time having only typed a few letters of the title. It's a much more satisfying experience.

Hi. Have you tried the advanced search grammar? All you type is "intitle:plans"

 

 

Unfortunately, it doesn't work consistently. Also unfortunately, I don't have to preface my searches with anything on iOS, where searching actually is natural. 

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Ideally "natural search" would learn my way of searching. I'd be OK with a pop-up (or something) of "What would you search to find this note in the future?" once in a while after creating a note. 

 

Search on the Mac is terrible. It searches everywhere in every note. While that could be useful at times, I rarely want to search the contents of my notes. 90% of the time, I want to search titles. I can rarely find anything I want without scrolling and skimming and scanning 50+ notes after first searching. I'm a teacher, so I use Evernote for my lesson plans. Each week I have a new note with the dates of the week and the word "plans" in the title. If I search the word "plans" I get every single note with the word plans anywhere in the note. Contrast that with iOS where I can literally type the first few letters of the title of a note and Evernote shows a list of notes and I get the one I want 95% of the time having only typed a few letters of the title. It's a much more satisfying experience. 

 

I just tested this, and I find that use of the Search grammar "intitle:" works the same on both EN Mac and EN iPhone.

I used the text "Macbook" as an example.

When my search grammar was only "Macbook" (without the quotes), the EN iPhone & EN Mac included Notes that did NOT have "Macbook" in the title, but did have it in the body of the Note.

When my Search grammar was ONLY "intitle:Macbook" the results included ONLY those Notes that had "MacBook" in the Title.

 

When you click in the Search box in EN Mac 5.4.4, you should get a dropdown list that includes Saved Searches and "Add Search Options".

You can either type in the Search grammar filters (Ilike "intitle:", "tag:", etc), OR you can click on the "Add Search Options" which will build the Search grammar for you based on your selections.

Either way, you can easily filter the search results.

If you do NOT want to search the text in the Note, then make all of your Search grammar includes the prefixes like "intitle:".

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On my MBP Mavericks gave it a go, “created this week”, brought up thirty-five notes going back to 2011. Did “created last week” thirteen appeared some of the same notes as the first test again going back to 2011. Hum, maybe I am doing it all wrong. 

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Ideally "natural search" would learn my way of searching. I'd be OK with a pop-up (or something) of "What would you search to find this note in the future?" once in a while after creating a note. 

 

Search on the Mac is terrible. It searches everywhere in every note. While that could be useful at times, I rarely want to search the contents of my notes. 90% of the time, I want to search titles. I can rarely find anything I want without scrolling and skimming and scanning 50+ notes after first searching. I'm a teacher, so I use Evernote for my lesson plans. Each week I have a new note with the dates of the week and the word "plans" in the title. If I search the word "plans" I get every single note with the word plans anywhere in the note. Contrast that with iOS where I can literally type the first few letters of the title of a note and Evernote shows a list of notes and I get the one I want 95% of the time having only typed a few letters of the title. It's a much more satisfying experience. 

 

I just tested this, and I find that use of the Search grammar "intitle:" works the same on both EN Mac and EN iPhone.

I used the text "Macbook" as an example.

When my search grammar was only "Macbook" (without the quotes), the EN iPhone & EN Mac included Notes that did NOT have "Macbook" in the title, but did have it in the body of the Note.

When my Search grammar was ONLY "intitle:Macbook" the results included ONLY those Notes that had "MacBook" in the Title.

 

When you click in the Search box in EN Mac 5.4.4, you should get a dropdown list that includes Saved Searches and "Add Search Options".

You can either type in the Search grammar filters (Ilike "intitle:", "tag:", etc), OR you can click on the "Add Search Options" which will build the Search grammar for you based on your selections.

Either way, you can easily filter the search results.

If you do NOT want to search the text in the Note, then make all of your Search grammar includes the prefixes like "intitle:".

 

 

So, what is the "natural search" for searching within a title? "intitle:" is not natural. I just tried (without quotes): "notes titled GoPro" and "titled GoPro". Both had 0 results (despite having a note titled GoPro as my most recent note. 

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I think JM has a point. "Natural" isn't natural, and I am never pleased about a lack of documentation, especially on what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of the Evernote service... Anyhow, I'm having no luck, but I have Japanese stuff, so I'll have to wait. Who knows what "natural" will look to me when I am working in Japanese...

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I've been thinking about this for a few days and I think the most :ahem: natural way to do natural search is for the search box to assume the starting phrase, "I'm looking for notes..." then what I put in the box finishes that phrase.

  • titled...
  • with... [attachment / photos / images / pictures / audio, etc.]
  • tagged...
  • created...[within the last week / by (name), etc.]
  • modified... [within the last two days, etc.]
  • about... (this would search the full text, images, etc. in a note)

I'm not exactly sure what the "natural" way to finish that phrase for dates and locations is. That's where documentation comes in. To reiterate, there's nothing actually natural about natural language search. It's the same thing with Siri. It took a while to figure out how she wants me to phrase things "naturally" but now that I know what her natural language is, I can accommodate. We need the same for Evernote's "natural" search. Tell us what's natural and we'll adjust.

 

Thoughts?

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I've been thinking about this for a few days and I think the most :ahem: natural way to do natural search is for the search box to assume the starting phrase, "I'm looking for notes..." then what I put in the box finishes that phrase.

  • titled...
  • with... [attachment / photos / images / pictures / audio, etc.]
  • tagged...
  • created...[within the last week / by (name), etc.]
  • modified... [within the last two days, etc.]
  • about... (this would search the full text, images, etc. in a note)

I'm not exactly sure what the "natural" way to finish that phrase for dates and locations is. That's where documentation comes in. To reiterate, there's nothing actually natural about natural language search. It's the same thing with Siri. It took a while to figure out how she wants me to phrase things "naturally" but now that I know what her natural language is, I can accommodate. We need the same for Evernote's "natural" search. Tell us what's natural and we'll adjust.

 

Thoughts?

 

As long as we can turn it off, I'm cool with it.

 

Natural search? I don't know anyone who uses Siri. I'm not a big fan of it, though I can use it for certain specific tasks. Otherwise, I think it is pretty much useless. 

 

Google seems to get by fine without natural search, so I've never found this to be a big concern. And, I'm pretty pleased with Evernote's search capabilities. Personally, I've got a long laundry list of improvements I'd like to prioritize ahead of natural search. Selective sync, more editing options (markdown support would be cool), etc. 

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I've been thinking about this for a few days and I think the most :ahem: natural way to do natural search is for the search box to assume the starting phrase, "I'm looking for notes..." then what I put in the box finishes that phrase.

  • titled...
  • with... [attachment / photos / images / pictures / audio, etc.]
  • tagged...
  • created...[within the last week / by (name), etc.]
  • modified... [within the last two days, etc.]
  • about... (this would search the full text, images, etc. in a note)

I'm not exactly sure what the "natural" way to finish that phrase for dates and locations is. That's where documentation comes in. To reiterate, there's nothing actually natural about natural language search. It's the same thing with Siri. It took a while to figure out how she wants me to phrase things "naturally" but now that I know what her natural language is, I can accommodate. We need the same for Evernote's "natural" search. Tell us what's natural and we'll adjust.

 

Thoughts?

 

I think you are definitely on the right track.  This is similar to what I was trying to describe in my earlier post about the "natural language" needs to have documented nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

 

I assume that Evernote Search would continue to support the existing Search Grammar, as well as the new Natural Language (NL).

So, it would seem that we need a consistent way to indicate that we are doing a NL search.

I think that may have been your thought on "I'm looking for notes", but I find that a bit verbose, and like GM, I would NOT want that to automaticly appear in the Search box.

 

Maybe something simple like "Find:" could be used as the first word in the Search box to indicate a NL search.

EXAMPLE FORM:

Find: Title /is/starts with/contains/ Macbook Pro,  has /Tag/Tags/ /of/any of/ retina, NVDIA, haswell  but not MBA, has Text /of/any of/ 512GB

 

The words between slashes are the NL grammar key words, of which the user would use ONLY ONE at a time.

 

So:

Find:  Title contains Macbook Pro, has Tags of retina, Nvdia, haswell but not MBA, has Text of 512GB

 

After I typed all of this, I'm not sure I even like my own examples.  :-)

 

IF I were just going to type it out like I might say it to someone:

Find all Notes with Title that contains Macbook Pro and has Tags of retina, NVDIA and haswell and has Text that contains 512KB.

 

Is this clear and unambiguous?

What if I wanted to search the Note body for the word "text"?

 

The challenge is that without commas and parentheses what I might say might be ambiguous and might not be what I mean.

 

Think of Excel formulas:  A1 + A2 * X1

Which do I really want?  How would Evernote know?

   (A1 + A2) * X1

   A1 + (A2 * X1)

 

I think NL Search has the potential to really mislead us with the results just because our NL statement was not clear or as intended.

 

I hope it is CLEAR to the EVERNOTE DEVELOPERS that we definitely need the NL Search to be well defined and documented, with all of the NL grammar clearly laid out.

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Exactly. The current search grammar is clear and useful. I know we have to think about users who might not be terribly tech savvy, but if they can't take the time to learn a little bit of search grammar, then how likely is it that they will get the "natural" search right?

 

If the goal is to bring in the casual user, instead of spending time on this natural search stuff, why not develop a search algorithm that pulls up the most relevant results (think Google or DevonThink). It seems like this would be far more effective. In fact, as much as I like the Evernote search grammar, a search with BBEdit, DevonThink, or VoodooPad (not to mention Google) is often more satisfying, and I think more friendly to those without any tech savvy. 

 

Obviously, a combination of natural language search and relevant results would be nice (this is Google, I suppose). At any rate, the stuff ought to be documented somewhere.

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I'm all for more relevant being the need before "natural."

 

And markdown support would be my first wish if I had a wish list. 

 

@JM: I guess that's what I meant with my example of Siri. I think GM missed my point. I wasn't talking about whether or not Siri is useful. I was referencing how Siri is billed as using "natural language." It's the same issue with any "natural language" that's not actually natural. Heck, it's the same with any language: tell us (or teach us) the rules/syntax and we'll adjust. Natural, in this context, means comfortable, not self-apparent. 

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I'm all for more relevant being the need before "natural."

 

And markdown support would be my first wish if I had a wish list. 

 

@JM: I guess that's what I meant with my example of Siri. I think GM missed my point. I wasn't talking about whether or not Siri is useful. I was referencing how Siri is billed as using "natural language." It's the same issue with any "natural language" that's not actually natural. Heck, it's the same with any language: tell us (or teach us) the rules/syntax and we'll adjust. Natural, in this context, means comfortable, not self-apparent. 

 

I don't think I missed the point... I just built on yours to say that I find it useless :)

 

Siri annoys me. I say something and it doesn't do what I want. When I finally figure out how to get it working (which commands to use, which words to avoid, etc.) I am so exasperated I figure it would have been easier to just type it in myself. I have other issues (unrelated to the searching) that have led me to turn Siri off. It's nice to know it is there if I ever lose the use of my limbs, but I'm not interested in training myself to become "natural" for Siri, just as I wouldn't want to train myself to become "natural" for Evernote. It would help to have the documentation if I were planning on going through the training, but once we are at that point, why not just use the existing search grammar, save the searches, and forget about it? I guess that is why Evernote doesn't document the stuff. They want it to be intuitive. The problem is that it is not, and it never will be, because there is nothing "natural" about computers. Sorry guys and gals!

 

I think that might be your point :)

 

Yes, I have watched Ashton as Steve in the Jobs movie, and I also love to daydream about computers as natural extensions of me. I read tons of science fiction and eat that stuff up. I also know that we aren't there yet.

 

My point would be that whatever Evernote does, it needs to document stuff for users who care enough to invest themselves in the product. Sure, we need to think about casual users and design primarily with them in mind, but if you spend the time creating a feature (sharedate:*, for example), why not take the time to publicize it with all the rest of your grammar? I don't understand the secrecy and resistance to documentation...

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I'm all for more relevant being the need before "natural."

 

And markdown support would be my first wish if I had a wish list. 

 

@JM: I guess that's what I meant with my example of Siri. I think GM missed my point. I wasn't talking about whether or not Siri is useful. I was referencing how Siri is billed as using "natural language." It's the same issue with any "natural language" that's not actually natural. Heck, it's the same with any language: tell us (or teach us) the rules/syntax and we'll adjust. Natural, in this context, means comfortable, not self-apparent. 

 

I may be repeating myself, but there is NO such thing as a "natural language" for humans.

We give our kids 12 years of English classes to teach them how so "naturally" speak, read, and write a common language.

And even then we have 50% of our kids who graduate illiterate.  :-(

 

I have worked in many different organizations, small, medium, large, private, and government.

I never cease to be amazed at how poorly people communicate, at all levels.

 

So I really think Evernote would be better off calling this new Search syntax/grammar, something else, maybe "free-form".

Even then, Evernote will still need to teach use how to use it.

 

Searching data has been around for a long time.

Google is by far the best general text search I've ever seen/used.

 

But searching a database (and Evernote IS a database) is different from searching the World Wide Web.

We have specific fields (like Title, Tags, Created Date, etc) that we need to easily and specifically include in our search.

 

What I have seen that is VERY useful for searching databases, is what we used to call a "Query Builder".

This works much like what Evernote currently has in the "Add Search Options" feature displayed in the drop-down when you click in the Search box.

 

Rather than a "Natural Search", I think most users would benefit if this Search  Builder was enhanced.

For example, you know how when you are entering Tags in a Note, as you type the Tag name Evernote suggests Tags which match what you have typed.  I find this very, very useful, and really reduces the time for data entry and reduces typos.

 

Well, the Search box could work in a similar manner.

As I am typing Evernote could suggest Search grammar.

  • If I type "t" it suggests "intitle:" and "tag:" in a drop-down, having selected the first, "intitle:".
  • If I want to search on the Note Title, I hit the "ENTER" key, which selects "intitle:"  (I chose "ENTER" to be consistent Tag entry on a Note)
  • Then I enter the words in the title I want to search for:  "Macbook".  So now the Search box reads:  "intitle:macbook"
  • If I then type in " t", it suggests " tag:", and so I hit "ENTER"
  • I then start typing the tag name I want:  "Re" and it suggests "Review" and any other tags that start with "Re".
  • I hit "ENTER" to select "Review", or use the arrow keys to select another tag and then hit "ENTER"
  • I hit "ENTER" again to signify end of Search entry, and to start the search

Also, instead of entering Search grammar, if I enter text that matches the start of a Saved Search, it suggests it.

 

My point here is that the User need NOT remember any of the Search grammar.  It all is presented as I need it via drop-down lists.

If I start the Search box with a SPACE, Evernote would present the complete list of grammar/fields that can be searched on (intitile, tag, created date, updated date, attachment, location, etc).  I chose SPACE because this is the most common key/trigger to cause the system to show a list of available keywords at a particular point.

 

Some of these features may already be implemented in EN Mac 5.4.4.  What I am suggesting is to flesh this feature out to make it as complete and easy to use as is reasonable to do so, rather than build a completely new Search grammar.  The KEY elements to ADD is to fully support Boolean searches with parentheses.

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I may be repeating myself, but there is NO such thing as a "natural language" for humans.

 

I'm right there with ya. The "Mr" in my username is because I'm a middle school English teacher :)

 

And I agree with the rest of your idea about building out the search builder. 

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There is a whole lot more planned for coming releases as well, but would love to hear things that you would want the ability to search by as well.

 

Like some other users I am struggling with search in EV because it returns too many results.  For me, much of this is caused because I am subscribed to a couple of very large shared notebooks and the default search includes results from all notebooks.  I need to access these notebooks periodically, but I would prefer that they are not part of my default searches in EV.  I have tried to create a saved search that searches all notebooks except the four or five shared notebooks that return too many results, but I have not found a way to do this successfully - and certainly not by default.  

 

I look forward to the natural language search functionality, but increasingly I am in need of better filtering/search mechanisms as much as anything else.  Evernote is only as good as my ability to find the document I want later, and several times in recent weeks I have spent 5 - 10 minutes trying different searches and scanning thru a long list of results for the file that I wanted.  

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My point here is that the User need NOT remember any of the Search grammar.  It all is presented as I need it via drop-down lists.

 What I am suggesting is to flesh this feature out to make it as complete and easy to use as is reasonable to do so, rather than build a completely new Search grammar.

Indeed progressive feedback as the query is created is powerful.

Agreed on the problematic nature of "natural". I am surprised at myself and Siri usage that I don't find it more easy to use.  It's crazy to me how often I'm still hitting the hints for the same stuff over and over to cement a "search grammar" for a natural language, many ways to get there, tool.

Somehow seems embroiled with the problem we have with the paradox of choice. We don't actually make better, quicker decisions with more choice, and blank slate, unstructured being the worst of that.

 

Still, I like what I see developing as I type in a search.

That as I type, the reformatting of the search into a confirmation that I and Evernote agree on what I'm searching for, together with a drop down picklist of search options to choose from.

I hope to see continued contextually aware short picklists of options to progressively hint and confirm a search query through to completion.

Evernote%20Camera%20Roll%2020140107%2009

 

(image likely only visible if you're logged into the forum)

 

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PGD, you obviously didn't get a way to search for all the gifs in your account :)

 

I don't have any .gifs in my account in the first place. Not sure what it has to do with anything. But I do not use the English version of Evernote, so the whole natural language thing is irrelevant. I am not holding my breath it will be available in my language in any near future, thus not exciting. 

 

(It's been a while since I was on the forums, so sorry for the late reply.)

Edited by pgdahl

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