Wednesday Nov 21, 2007

Fast Docs - Sun's got 'em!

docs.sun.com (dsc): A document repository barely alive. We can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can make it better than it was. Better...stronger...faster.

We can, we did! I say "we," even though I didn't have anything to do with it, just trying to show my community frame of mind.

Check out http://docs.sun.com and see if it isn't faster and more searchable than ever. If you're familiar with dsc, you know it has been slow and difficult to navigate and search. Then, for a short period of time, it got better. Then, it got worse again. Now, it's good again, great in fact.

I brought in a crack team of scientist to fix the problem. I say "I" even though I didn't have anything to do with it. I also say "brought in" even though nobody was brought in. As I understand it, after dsc was improved, a new problem quickly arose that was causing poor performance. The dsc folks investigated thoroughly, found, and then fixed the problem. I could tell you what the problem was, but then I'd have to bore you into a coma with the details. I'd also need to understand what they did. Suffice to say, look for documents on http://docs.sun.com and tell me if it isn't better than before.

Monday Jul 30, 2007

Search heals all wounds!

I think the title of this entry might be a good goal. Most definitely, at this point in time, search does not heal all wounds. Some would argue that search adds salt to wounds and grinds it in with great glee. But darn it anyways, I'm driven to figure this search thing out at Sun. I want to figure out what search can do for us now and how we can make it even better. I see a world where Sun customers come to Sun Microsystems sites and search across media types and pages, finding exactly what they need and very quickly: be it in a document, blog, article, screencast, or what have you? I won't say I have a dream, but I have a vision, anyway.

My last entry, Searching for stuff on Sun sites, though brilliant, didn't cover the nitty gritty of performing searches at Sun. This entry isn't going to do that either. Truth is I don't know the nitty gritty. I have learned a thing or two since that last entry.

What have I learned about search at Sun? Well, by reading the help at the docs.sun.com (DSC) site and at the Sun Search site I learned that the two sites handle search pretty differently. The key difference is that the two searches use different Boolean methods as illustrated below:

  • Sun Search: Please note that the default search is based on a Boolean AND; that is, results that are returned contain all of the search terms you entered.
  • DSC: The search is based on a Boolean OR, meaning that any of the specified search terms can be present in the documents that are returned in the search results.

I'm sure there's great wisdom involved in why these two searches at Sun are using different methods. To me, the difference seems ridiculous, but that's because I'm rather simple and can't see the grand design of such matters. When the pure intelligence of it is revealed to me, I'll let you know, too.

Anyway, I think that Sun Search really is a great tool for searching across media types. I highly recommend it. And I am hopeful that we can make it even better.

Wednesday Jul 25, 2007

Searching for stuff on Sun sites

Fellow Sun identity writer Michael Teger, has just added a nice blog entry, Searching Collections on docs.sun.com.

This seems like a good time to point out some other search tricks. Hopefully, I can learn some, too, cuz I can just sense it: there's more to know about searching Sun sites than I've yet to learn.

The site http://docs.sun.com/ (DSC) is new and improved. It's faster anyway. In most ways the search is better, too. But as Michael points out, searching collections is not available in the same way it used to be. Now, it can be done as a workaround, which Michael provides. Also noteworthy is the fact that DSC provides a link to Search Tips.

There are few nuggets of information in the tips. For example, Michael provided this example for a search: "Access Manager 7.1" load balancer. You could type this instead: "Access Manager 7.1" | load balancer. The pipe symbol, "|" doesn't get you that much since the search results look exactly the same through several pages of the search results. However, the search with the pipe symbol has 206 results while the search without the pipe symbol has 43,085. The pipe symbol means that you are first searching for docs with "Access Manager 7.1," then you're working from those results to search for "load balancer." This might not matter since the first 20 pages or so of these two searches are probably giving the exact same results. However, it's nice to know that there are only 206 results that are relevant to your search instead of over 43,000.

A couple of other tricks are that you can search in titles only and you can use wildcards (\* and ?) in your search. For this information, check out the search tips in Chapter 2.

Better yet, you can search beyond docs.sun.com. You can search all of Sun. Sometimes, that's better and sometimes it's not. Anyway, this can be extremely useful information. Here it is: SunSearch.

Why is this important? Because with SunSearch you can also search forums, blogs, articles, etc. It's very powerful. If this information isn't in docs, it might still be somewhere within the various sun sites. Using the example that Michael provided, I want to search on SunSearch. However, I'll add the pipe symbol to see what happens: "Access Manager 7.1" | load balancer.

The results on SunSearch are not exactly clear to me. To me it doesn't seem that the pipe symbol works and the number of results seems quite low compared to searching DSC. However, the tabs shown at the top are very useful. The default tab is All Results, which might provide too much info. The Community tab is good because it searches blogs, forums, and articles. For this search, at this time, I see 7 results in the Community tab. Seven results is quite manageable. The following image shows this search. Notice the pipe symbol is included. I tried the search without the pipe symbol and the results were the same.

A screen shot of SunSearch: Okay, so I don't get all the nuances. If anyone understands these nuances, such as why the number of results is relatively low, please do explain. All the same, this seems to make it easier to search for a topic across media types and such all over Sun.


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