Search Skill

By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2002-08-26 Print this article Print

Search Skill

AskSam is the right tool for users who need to organize collections of full-length documents. It has capable search features, going beyond the field-based search features in databases to provide full-text, proximity and Boolean text search operators.

Combined with AskSams ability to use field-based searches where it makes sense (especially on common fields such as date and document author or importance), AskSam provides considerable searching power over material that wasnt designed to be stored in a database.

AskSam can import data from many desktop data formats, and it has decent reporting features. The application can group related data and calculate totals and subtotals for numeric information, although it lacks the ability to create charts or graphs.

In tests, eWeek Labs defined data entry forms to enter new data. We could also have AskSam locate a particular keyword and then associate text following it with that keyword.

This keyword matching scheme let us search documents in structured ways. For example, we imported our production schedule (an Excel worksheet) into AskSam and were able to search for all stories due after a certain date and assigned to a particular author. This would certainly not be possible in a word processor and can be tricky to do in a spreadsheet.

Updating an entry form doesnt automatically update documents already imported into an AskSam file, but a new Insert Entry Form command allowed us to add a new field to all existing documents at once, a feature current users will find quite useful.

West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck can be reached at

Timothy Dyck is a Senior Analyst with eWEEK Labs. He has been testing and reviewing application server, database and middleware products and technologies for eWEEK since 1996. Prior to joining eWEEK, he worked at the LAN and WAN network operations center for a large telecommunications firm, in operating systems and development tools technical marketing for a large software company and in the IT department at a government agency. He has an honors bachelors degree of mathematics in computer science from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a masters of arts degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

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