Open Bug 526221 Opened 12 years ago Updated 7 years ago

Pressing Enter after quicksearch filter terms should do global search (combine the best of quick filters and "Search all messages")

Categories

(Thunderbird :: Search, enhancement)

enhancement
Not set
normal

Tracking

(blocking-thunderbird3.1 -)

Tracking Status
blocking-thunderbird3.1 --- -

People

(Reporter: thomas8, Unassigned)

References

(Blocks 1 open bug, )

Details

(Whiteboard: [gs])

Attachments

(2 files)

This bug proposes a trivial change of behaviour in quick search box to combine the ease and efficiency of quick filtering (aka quicksearch) with new global search (aka gloda search, "Search all messages"). This is a followup on global search feedback received on Thunderbird workshop during Mozilla Camp Europe 2009 in Prague, ideas from Gerve Markham in a discussion involving Ludovic, Philipp Kewish, me and others. The same idea was proposed by IagoSRL in Bug 516543, but the language and multiple focus of that bug were a bit unfortunate so I opened this as a separate followup.

Steps to reproduce:

1) choose a quickfilter mode (e.g. new "Subject, sender or recipient" mode implemented by Bug 462578)
2) enter search term, e.g. "Hello world"
-> view is filtered as you type for matching messages
3) realize you haven't found what you're looking for, and feel the need for global "Search all messages" for "Hello world"

Actual behaviour

- pressing Enter will do nothing (messages are already filtered as you type)
if there's no matches, or not the right matches:
- user has no easy way of converting the current quick filter into a global search (needs to change SearchMode to global from the quick search box dropdown)
- for more filtering lateron, user will have to change global SearchMode back to preferred quickFilter SearchMode (clumsy)
- we don't offer autocomplete suggestions as in "search all messages" mode (bug 516543)

Expected behaviour

- simply pressing ENTER after quick filter terms should trigger a global search for the same search terms (turn filter into a global search)
- so when my quick filter doesn't find what I'm after, I can easily expand the scope to "global" (*)
- don't force the user to constantly swap between "Search all messages" and Quick filter modes

- optionally, implement "Power Filter" (bug 522985), so that behaviour and results of filtering will be more similar to global search
- optionally, show autocomplete suggestions like in "search all messages" mode (bug 516543, Bryan's bug 462578, comment #76). Note that autocomplete can either help with quick filtering (as in Bryan's comment), or provide access to global search (as in bug 51643).

Implementing this bug will significantly streamline the search workflow, improving both ease and efficiency.

(*): Note that this will provide a highly efficient and fast way of filtering/searching even while we still have the current, slow (non-gloda) implemention of quickfilters (e.g. bug 383895): User can use fast and efficient filter like "Subject, From, or Recipient" (no full text), and if that's not sufficient, just press Enter to continue with lightning-fast gloda global fulltext search (thus double-expanding search scope from headers-only to fulltext, and from single-folder to all folders).
Depends on: Power_Filter, 516543
This is not actually a big or complex change (a single key handler) and has no l10n impact, and yet makes the search interaction model enormously simpler - for all the reasons given above. Is there any chance of getting it for 3.0?

Gerv
Target Milestone: --- → Thunderbird 3.0rc1
Version: Trunk → 3.0
I fear that a lot of users type enter into the filter because they always have, and it's never had side-effects.  So I think a straight "enter" would be confusing.  a Ctrl-Enter or other "hidden" key might work, but I think that would be too hidden to be really useful for 99% of users, without in-product documentation work (UI, strings). 

We're too late in the 3.0 cycle for this, but I'd be interested in exploring improvements to these interactions in 3.1.
Flags: blocking-thunderbird3?
wrong flag
Flags: blocking-thunderbird3? → blocking-thunderbird3.1?
(In reply to comment #2)
> I fear that a lot of users type enter into the filter because they always
> have, and it's never had side-effects.  So I think a straight "enter" would be
> confusing.

Appreciating that fear, but I believe that little confusion will easily disappear after the first few times and soon turn into joy over having seamless and hassle-free access to a cross-folder full-text search. I think the confusion we'll create by making "Search all messages" the default will be far bigger than this one. It shouldn't stop us from careful innovation.

Furthermore, we'll probably create /less/ confusion by adding this /now/ because users will actually /expect/ innovative behavioural changes when we roll out TB 3.0, compared to sneaking it in lateron in 3.1.

> a Ctrl-Enter or other "hidden" key might work, but I think that
> would be too hidden to be really useful for 99% of users, without in-product
> documentation work (UI, strings).

I fear that Ctrl+Enter or other hidden keys, even autocomplete, will quite radically reduce the charming simplicity of the proposed workflow, as pointed out by Gerv's comment #1.

> We're too late in the 3.0 cycle for this
Up to you; as per comment #1, this will be simple, no-risk and no-l10n impact.

> but I'd be interested in exploring improvements to these interactions in 3.1.
That's great anyway. Given the increasing number of goodies that had to be moved to 3.1, that makes two releases to look forward to, so it's double joy. Although another 4 months (at least) might be a long time to wait...
(In reply to comment #2)
> I fear that a lot of users type enter into the filter because they always have,

... or because it actually speeds up the search:

We currently use a timed textbox which delays a search for half a second after the last key press. Enter skips this delay, which does in fact make a notable difference (the UI feels less sluggish and more under your control).

Changing the behavior of [Enter] would thus require instant filtering which might not be desired performance-wise.
Hmm.

Is there any reason this could not be implemented as an extension, to try things out?

Gerv
Target Milestone: Thunderbird 3.0rc1 → Thunderbird 3.1a1
I believe we have some plans for dealing with the quick/global search issue, but I think that's a separate bug. If I'm wrong, Bryan, please correct me.
blocking-thunderbird3.1: --- → -
Flags: blocking-thunderbird3.1?
(In reply to comment #7)
> I believe we have some plans for dealing with the quick/global search issue,
> but I think that's a separate bug.
Good news. Which bug is it?
(In reply to comment #5)
> (In reply to comment #2)
> > I fear that a lot of users type enter into the filter because they always have,
> 
> ... or because it actually speeds up the search:
> 
> We currently use a timed textbox which delays a search for half a second after
> the last key press. Enter skips this delay, which does in fact make a notable
> difference (the UI feels less sluggish and more under your control).
> 
> Changing the behavior of [Enter] would thus require instant filtering which
> might not be desired performance-wise.

Currently, TB 3.1 RC1 seems have a very short delay, I think can be affordable the change of behavior.

But, another option is use a combination like 'Control+Enter', and we can add a message, in the first line of the suggestion list, with info about this like I explain in the Bug 516543#c3 Comment#3: an informative message saying something like 
"press Control+Enter for global search, and Alt key for show/hide suggestions".

This have 2 benefits: is easy to learn (only read a single phrase!) and the user have control over the suggestion list (this is important because the list can hide the first messages filtered).

I think is a very good solution, simply, and avoid have an strange two-search-boxes-ui like proposed in 3.1 beta.
Hi again and sorry for bug-spam!

Testing TB3.1RC I can see that really implements an option to do a global search pressing Enter in the quick-box, but only is showed when there are no results, and a tooltip message is showed to notify this possibility.

I compose an image to show this current behavior and the benefits of unify the search and filter boxes:

- More vertical space to view messages.
- Only one search-filter box.
- The additional filter options are maintained in the new filter-bar, and this need less vertical space.

Some changes are required:
- The 'tooltip' message must take only one line.
- This tooltip must be showed ever, when there are results and when not.
- The message with the number of results need be a tooltip (to showed over the tools in the toolbar), or be located in another place.
- And need the option to show/hide the suggestion list (used by the global search box) that I describe in the previous comment.

What do you think?
IagoSRL, as much as I'd like to see something along your proposal that combines the two searches and regains vertical space, the problem with the proposal of attachment 449109 [details] is that you are using the second filterbar to place the buttons from first filterbar. But that is exactly the place where all the tags will be displayed for secondary tag-filtering after you click on "Tags" on the primary filterbar. So you are eliminating an important part of the new functionality. Besides, developers won't be happy that you are distributing primary filtering on two different toolbars that are not adjacent (tabs in between). The idea was to have primary filters on bar 1, and secondary filters (where you modify your primary filters) on bar 2. Plus, you're eliminating the intended visual idea of the split between global search and per-folder filter, by placing the per-folder filter back into the global toolbar which is visually far away from the message list. Personally, I wouldn't mind, but then maybe other people appreciate the separate global search box where they know to have a straight-forward approach to global searching (without any prior filtering). I'd much like to regain v-space, but I'm afraid attachment 449109 [details] doesn't look like a feasible approach...
(In reply to comment #11)

At first, sorry because I don't explain all I'm thinking in the previous comments and screenshots.

> the problem with the proposal of
> attachment 449109 [details] is that you are using the second filterbar to place the
> buttons from first filterbar. But that is exactly the place where all the tags
> will be displayed for secondary tag-filtering after you click on "Tags" on the
> primary filterbar. So you are eliminating an important part of the new
> functionality.

I'm thinking that the secondary tag-filtering must be showed only when needed (when click on 'Tags') in the same place that now (TB3.1RC): this second line of the filterbar must be showed not all the time, this regains space when not use tag-filtering or anothers secondary filters (but these are fully available, without losing functionality).

> Besides, developers won't be happy that you are distributing
> primary filtering on two different toolbars that are not adjacent (tabs in
> between).

In TB3.0 seems not a problem, there are a tool that can be added to the toolbar to do quick filter ('messages not readed', 'from people I know',..., and custom filters), and are not adjacent.

Another idea I have is that the filterbar can appear automatically when do a filter in the searchbox (when write in the box, the filter action is executed after a small delay, and at this time can be showed the filterbar too). This can have more impact in the user, doing more discoverable the filterbar (the current button to show/hide and button to persist the bar between folders must be conserved).

> The idea was to have primary filters on bar 1, and secondary filters
> (where you modify your primary filters) on bar 2. Plus, you're eliminating the
> intended visual idea of the split between global search and per-folder filter,
> by placing the per-folder filter back into the global toolbar which is visually
> far away from the message list. 

In TB3.0 is not 'so far' and is easy to understand I believe, but with the visual decoration included in TB3.1RC I think this problem is well solved (the colored border along message list, with different color if there are results or not, is a good idea). With this feature already implemented there are no problem to identify when a filter is do it and the relationship between the search-box, the filterbar and the message list.

> Personally, I wouldn't mind, but then maybe
> other people appreciate the separate global search box where they know to have
> a straight-forward approach to global searching (without any prior filtering).

If someone want only do a global search, no problem: write and press enter. Is fast, without filtering (after press enter the global search is launched and the searchbox must be cleared, the results in the main tab are not filtered or if was already filtered the filter is undo; if the user was a bit fast writing and pressing enter the filter action never was executed). 
Another idea to explore for this is a combination with my proposal of switch on/off the 'suggestions list': maybe we can off the filter behavior synchronously with the suggestions-list, when this is active filter is off. This can help the profile of users that never use filters, ever do a global search and want have suggestions. And is quickly to change, only press 'Alt' key -or another shortcut, is only a proposal- to hide 'suggestion list' and filter the results. For this, TB must remember when a user show/hide the suggestions-list, being a persistent feature.
And is a good solution for users that only use filters too (simply will not use the global search else suggestions);
and for users that do a filter and then -if the results are not the desired- do a global search with only press a key.

> I'd much like to regain v-space, but I'm afraid attachment 449109 [details] doesn't look
> like a feasible approach...

Ok, I only show an idea, waiting more from another users! The bug can be a small brainstorming around the concept? But seems there are no much users contributing, it is the best place to speak about this?


I want notice that, in my opinion, the current TB3.1RC design have problems, specially for users from TB2.0, and the main proposal of 3.1 is migrate all the 2.0 users:

- The shortcuts are switched:
  - In TB2 'Ctrl+K' is for Filter, but in TB3.1 this is for global search
  - In TB2 'Ctrl+F' is for search inside a message content, in TB3.1 this is for Filter
- The search inside a message content shorcut is inconsistent: if you are in a message tab the shorcut is 'Ctrl+F' (good), but when you are in the message list the shorcut is 'doble Ctrl+F'!!!.
- The filter-box is not so discoverable like the global-search-box, and TB2.0 users can be confused at first (the filter-box change the place, being replaced by another type of search, and filter is hidden by default: too much TB2.0 users will think that filter options was disappeared in 3.1).
- If a user is looking for a message and decide first look in 'inbox' (for example) using filter-box, but don't encounter the message (and there are another results in the filter), now must clear the filter, close filterbar, and must RETYPE ALL THE SEARCH AGAIN in the search-box to launch a global search. This is afraid!

My question is: What are the solutions proposed for the previous problems? Will be resolved in RC2,3?


I hope this helps to clarify my previous comments. If there is any doubt, please ask me.
I want help to help make a better TB, because already is good but all things can be better! ;)
I write a simple extension that let enable the shortcuts:
  <Control + Enter>
  <Alt + Enter>
  <Enter>
available when write something in the quick filter box.
The propose is test if this shortcuts and behavior can be useful or not to unify a bit more the search and filter boxes.
Fantastic!  This is exactly what dmose has been talking about with our add-on development based strategy.

In order to get more exposure of your extension and potential feedback, perhaps you might upload it to addons.mozilla.org and create an idea on http://getsatisfaction.com/mozilla_messaging that links to your add-on?
Target Milestone: Thunderbird 3.1a1 → ---
Ok Andrew, I 'share an idea' on getsatisfaction.com (http://getsatisfaction.com/mozilla_messaging/topics/unify_search_boxes_in_thunderbird_3_1) and I published in addons.mozilla.org with the name 'Unified search', link: https://addons.mozilla.org/es-ES/thunderbird/addon/187593/

I include a new version that solves a small problem with the 'es-ES' locale (nothing new for 'en-US')

All ideas about features, extension name, or which must be considered to raise the main goal of this extension, technical details and code contributions of course are welcome!

My experience in addons is very short (this is may first and I am working in a first public version of an 'autoarchive' extension), and my main doubts with mozilla platform are about interaction with UI and find (in the TB code, .xul, .xml, .js files) and change the existing UI elements (that is I need for this bug, change the 'search boxes', open/close the autocomplete popup of the gloda search from a shorcut or when I want, etc.).

Another doubt: Is posible open a global search (gloda search tab) providing the same options that can be selected in the 'quick filter bar'?
My extension only read the text writed in the filter-box to search it globally, but is interesting do a search adding the selected filter options: messages with some tag, with an especific tag, from my contacts, with attachments...

Thanks
Something along the lines of this bug might be especially interesting / effective in combination with something along this one:

Bug 570815  - Make new Quickfilter Toolbar optionally available as a simple searchbox+stickypin with new selectable search criteria in persistent drop-down

Iow, space-efficient users that prefer cleaner UI could
a) remove global search box from toolbar (currently possible using toolbar customization)
b) add new quick search box to toolbar (bug 570815)
c) use new quick search box to start global searches when necessary (this bug 526221)
See Also: → qfwidget
Blocks: 667246
(In reply to IagoSRL from comment #15)
> Ok Andrew, I 'share an idea' on getsatisfaction.com
> (http://getsatisfaction.com/mozilla_messaging/topics/
> unify_search_boxes_in_thunderbird_3_1) and I published in addons.mozilla.org
> with the name 'Unified search', link:
> https://addons.mozilla.org/es-ES/thunderbird/addon/187593/

I've been enjoying this addon. I just filed Bug 732176 but it's unclear if the issue is caused by thunderbird, or the addon.

It should also be noted that it's possible to get in a state where no criteria are checked (eg. body, subject, ... all unchecked, by one's own actions of course) which thunderbird allows, and because unified search hides the criteria in a column selector it's possible to unexpectedly get no results - or more correctly you see all messages because nothing gets filtered out.
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