Our organization focuses a lot on the accuracy of our searches, which is a necessity when we have hundreds of very lengthy topics (no matter how well organized they are).
I finally completed a detailed comparison of the search functionality of 8 and 9 and came to the realization that 8 is a disaster, while with 9 things get better, but there's still TONS of room for improvement. I have reported this to Adobe and so far there has been no official response. There are many blogs on here related to the search functionality, but I thought it may be a good idea to try to sum some of them up. I do hope that someone somewhere at Adobe runs into this and shares with all of us why Adobe's Search functionality is still in the 20th century!
I hope this helps everyone else who is curious to know about how the tool's search functions work and whether it's worth upgrading from 8 to 9 at this point. I have included some examples which are in a way internal to us, but they will give you a good idea of what to expect and I'm quite confident you'll be able to recreate them on your side in seconds.
I also wanted to ask a question or two, and if anyone can assist, that would be greatly appreciated:
- Currently if we search for several words at once (not exact phrase), both 8 and 9 perform an "Any of the words" search which always returns too many results. Does anyone know a way to change the default to an "All of the words" search? For years I have not encountered a tool out there that doesn't have the option to modify this, alas with RoboHelp 8 and 9, we can't find a way to do it (with or without modifying the source code).
- Out of curiosity, are there any other tools out there which offer Conditional Tag (or similar) functionality and which behave better than RoboHelp? (easier to maintain, less buggy, web interface, etc)?
RoboHelp 8 vs 9 - Search Functionality Comparison Table with some Examples:
|Search Example||RoboHelp 8||RoboHelp 9||Expected Results|
(based on industry standards)
|1. Searching for Exact Phrase "Correspondent Banking"||Such a search returns topics which contain "Correspondent Banking" and "Correspondent Bank". The last one is included because "Bank" is the root of "Banking". The topics that contain the exact phrase appear at the bottom. When we click on any of them, we're not automatically taken to phrase so we have to scroll and look for it or use CTR+F.||Identical behavior except that when we click on the topics which contain the exact phrase, we're taken straight to it.||When we hear "exact" we expect "exact" and nothing else. Unfortunately, both versions keep searching for the roots of each word as well and incorrectly display those results at the top. Adobe has made it clear that this is a part of their functionality, BUT this is something we would not expect to see for exact phrase searches that are in quotes.|
|2. A Non-Exact phrase search of "Geographical Limits of market area"||The tool automatically performs an "Any of the Words" search instead of an "All of the Words" search. This is also related to the question I asked above this table. As you can imagine, this is returning almost every topic and it becomes virtually impossible to find what we're looking for. It even returns topics which contain "of" and nothing else.||Identical behavior||There to be an option which allows us to choose what the default search would be - "Any of the words" vs. "All of the Words"|
|3. Exact Phrase search of "low-score" with a dash||None of the topics that were returned contain the phrase. As some of you know, RH8 has problems with special characters, including dashes.||RH9 returned only the topic that which contains the phrase and we were taken straight to it when we open it.||The expectation is to see exactly what RH9 currently offers. Unfortunately 8 has a big problem with these types of searches.|
|4. Exact Phrase search of "2.4"||This is similar to the one above. Adobe doesn't like periods as well. It doesn't not find any of the topics which contain this phrase. In our case, this is a section number and sometimes people want a quick way to get to a specific section or sub-section.||We were hoping that this will be fixed with 9, just the way they fixed the dashes. Unfortunately, still ZERO results returned.|
Expectation is for the topics which contain that exact phrase to be returned, no matter whether there's any special character inbetween.
|5. Exact Phrase search of "300,000" or $300,000"||The tool only returned several random topics which contain "000" as part of larger numbers. The topic that contains "300,000" was not on that list, even though it also contains "000".||Identical behavior||Expectation is for topics that contain the exact amount to be returned, no matter if there is a coma or a dollar sign anywhere within the phrase.|
|6. Exact Phrase Search of "525-B5". Goal was to have a special character, a letter and numbers.||ZERO Results returned.||Only the docs that contain the phrase were returned and nothing else. It seems that this this was addressed in version 9 and now it behaves as expected.||Expectation is only for the docs that contain the exact phrase to be returned.|
|7. Exact phase search of "log" in order to test the Substring Functionality|
Here's an extract from Adobe's Support Site:
“Substring search (WebHelp/Pro, FlashHelp/Pro) - If you enable this feature, a search for "log" returns topics containing the words "catalog" and "logarithm." Substring search takes longer than whole-string search.”
So with that in mind, we decided to test if turning the substring searches on and off does exactly as advertised, unfortunately the answer was NO. We even used an example almost idnetical to what Adobe provided on their site.
With Substring Searches disabled, we searched for the word "log". Unfortunately it returned words like "logbook" and methodology". How is that possible?
|Identical behavior||Our expectation would be only for docs that contain"log" to be returned, no matter whether substring is enabled or disabled. In our case it was disabled.|