I am indexing some entities that have up to 140 fields in the resultant
document - ie lots.
I am providing a simple/powerful google-style search of such entities using
the _all field - however, to make the user's life easier, we do prefix
(e.g. rather than the user having to type "johannesburg" or "aluminium" -
they can just type "joh" or "alu").
We display the results in a grid (with number of columns much less than
The users are new to this kind of search, and while they appreciate the
many benefits, they are sometimes confused by hits they don't expect.
E.g. they may search for johannesburg, expecting to get a hit on the
location - but get some odd hits because someone has put "johannesburg" in
a comment for something whose location is not johannesburg - and this is
compounded by the fact that they can't necessarily see why they got a
particular hit (because we show less than 140 columns - and some things
like comments are unsuitable to show in a grid.
In my experience its a bit of a common problem - you tend to want to show
the user the fields they can search on - but in reality, there are always
more fields that you want to search on than you want to display (esp as
The question is how to assist the user to see why something matched.
The problem is we are searching on _all so traditional highlighting doesn't
(and probably will never) help.
My question is are there some other tricks that anyone can suggest that
will help the user understand why they got unexpected hits?
E.g. One of my initial thoughts is that the nature of prefix search means
they might get more false-positives than expected simply because they
haven't typed enough characters. e.g. "joh" will get all items located in
"Johannesburg", but also get all items created by "John". My thought was
that maybe just showing (in a tooltip) the matching term might be of some
help - ie if the user sees "John", they know that simply typing one more
character - ie "joha" will eliminate a raft of false-positives.
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