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IP.Board 3: Global Search

During the initial design phase for IP.Board 3, one of the first areas that we identified for a major overhaul was the search system. In IP.Board 2, each application is required to have it's own search engine, which creates many silo's of data that can not be easily searched. IP.Board 3 will introduce a new global search system that will make all of the content of your community easily searchable, no matter where that content is located. You will have the option of showing the results from all applications within one listing, or filtering your results by application.

One of our primary goals in IP.Board 3 is to dramatically increase the integration level between all of our community products, so that they feel more cohesive than in IP.Board 2. This new search system is just one example of how we are working to achieve this. However, we don't want this ease of integration to apply only to our own products, so modification authors will be able to utilize this same system for their own applications. Through the use of a simple plugin system, modification authors will be able to have content from their applications show up within the global search results.

The new search system will also be more streamlined and easier to use. The new "Advanced Search" form is much friendlier than the form in IP.Board 2 is, making it much easier to determine how to formulate your search. Additionally, every page will include a quick search box in the header that you can always use to search, no matter where in the system you are. This quick search box will also include 'live search results' that will dynamically show you a preview of your results as you type the search term in the quick search box. The live search will be context-sensitive. That is to say, if you are in a forum, it will search that forum; if you are in a topic, it will search that topic; if you are in the gallery, it will search the gallery; and so on. It provides a link to view all search results (from all applications) should you require it. Additionally, there is a setting to disable the live search should you not wish to support it on your board.

Performance has also been an issue with our current search system, our new system aims to overcome this in a variety of ways. The first is by creating a global search index, which is what powers all the features that I've mentioned previously. This global search index is much easier and quicker to search than searching the post table. Since searches will no longer be performed directly on the post table, there will no longer be any issues with locking that table during a search. To reduce the disk space overhead and make searches even quicker, the search index has a stripped down version of the content that contains no bbcode or markup of any kind.

The second way we will be improving search performance is by supporting Sphinx out of the box. Though you will need to install Sphinx yourself, once you have done so, enabling it in IP.Board 3 will be as easy as changing a setting in the ACP. You will be able to remove the full text index on the post table using either the new search index or Sphinx, which will dramatically reduce the size of that table.

The new search index will have the added benefit of enhancing other areas of the forum as well, such as the "View new posts" feature. View new posts will now include any kind of content that is searchable, so you will see forum posts, gallery images, blog posts, etc in the new post listing. There are some other enhancements as well, but we're going to save those for a future blog post.

We're very excited about these changes and we hope that you will be too

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