[pmwiki-users] WikiTerms

Pico pmwiki at ben-amotz.com
Wed May 31 09:56:33 CDT 2006

Patrick R. Michaud <pmichaud <at> pobox.com> writes:
> On Wed, May 31, 2006 at 08:35:51AM -0400, Pico wrote:
> > Patrick R. Michaud wrote:
> > >On Tue, May 30, 2006 at 03:57:45PM -0700, Pico wrote:
> > 1. Improved searching for defined terms.  In Google, you can preface a 
> > search with "define:" and get a targeted result.  
> To me, the more basic question (from PmWikiPhilosophy #3) is
> "do we really need such a functionality"?  I can count on one hand
> the number of times I've done a "define:" search on Google. 
I, too, can count such searches on one hand, but you should see how many fingers
I have. ;-)  (punch drunk response)

Seriously, I think it would be a great feature for readers, and writers, of
PmWiki documentation, to provide clarity and context.  But, the heart of this,
in my view, is the ability to target searches, discussed below.

> Let's suppose that we do add a "define:" syntax to PmWiki's search.
> How would someone learn about it?  How often do we think it would be
> used?  I just can't see it meeting the "avoid gratuitous features"
> threshhold.

You may be right (I just don't feel it in my gut, but I'll let this digest).
> > The ability to target a search to some identifiable portion of a page 
> > would seem like a great improvement that could start to address many of 
> > the issues that have been raised about search results.  For example, if 
> > a search could be limited to a particular division and could return the 
> > entire text of that division, then authors could structure their content 
> > accordingly, for example:
> >
> > >>define<<
> > PmWiki is free wiki software written by Patrick Michaud in the PHP 
> > programming language.
> > >><<
> We can *already* do this:
>     Search directive:   (:searchresults fmt=#define:)
>     #define pagelist template:
>         [[#define]]
>         !!{=$FullName}
>         (:include {=$FullName}#define:)
>         [[#defineend]]
>     Definition in page:
>         [[#define]]
>         PmWiki is free wiki software written by Patrick Michaud in the PHP
>         programming language
>         [[#defineend]]

Maybe I wasn't being clear, or I'm missing something.  As I understand it, the
above markup would control the search results, but the searches would still be
based on the entire page.  For example, if we use the existing FAQ pagelist
(assuming no significant differences between the above and what exists for FAQs
in the PageListTemplate and the documentation pages that use faq divs and
anchors) to drive a searchbox, the results should report Q&A pairings that
contain the search terms.  When I test this, however, I seem to get results
where the search terms are *not* contained in the Q&A pairings and I assume that
the terms were contained elsewhere in the pages that contained the faq div and
anchors.  Or maybe my tests were faulty.  My search boxes are included on

> > When it comes to defined terms, however, It would be even better if we 
> > could make use of the existing html and PmWiki feature of defined lists. 
> >  Using the example above, if we added the following to a page:
> > 
> > : PmWiki : Free wiki software written by Patrick Michaud in the PHP 
> > programming language.:
> > 
> > Could we then provide a search functionality where "define:PmWiki" only 
> > searched the term (DT) portion of definition lists and reported that 
> > together with the definition (DD) portion?
> Yes, we could do it.  But my question about "do we need it" still
> applies.  I just can't see the typical visitor being aware of or
> making use of the "define:" syntax in searches.

The fundamental disagreement is about need, I think.  If the feature was viewed
as useful, then we would highlight it and introduce it to new users on pages
that are geared to showing the different ways to learn about and work with
PmWiki documentation
> > [...lots of stuff snipped...]

BTW, was the snipped stuff (proposing a PmWiki reference group whose pages
identified type, useage and version histories) of any interest?

> > The question, at that point, would be whether the reference group could 
> > be used as a category, so that links to the reference pages would 
> > generate listings of referring pages.  In other contexts, Pm has 
> > explained that he wanted to avoid the overhead of categories in the 
> > distributed documentation.
> No, this is not what I meant.  It's not an issue of "overhead"... it's
> that if the distributed documentation makes use of the category
> markup -- i.e., something like [[!Passwords]], then that interferes
> with a site's ability to have its own custom "Passwords" category.
> We can still have "categories" and "reference groups" -- just don't 
> use the [[!Category]] markup to add a page to its reference
> group.  For example, [[PmWiki.Passwords]] can be the reference
> group page for all pages dealing with passwords:
>     !! Other pages dealing with passwords
>     (:pagelist link=PmWiki.Passwords:)

Yes, that makes sense.

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