Visual Integration of Microsoft Search Server
Originally published in the November 2007 issue of the IDV newsletter, Think Visual.
As IDV Solutions expands development into Enterprise Search, we’re busy laying down a path toward a visual interface that provides a smooth, informative, user experience. The industry focus has largely been aimed at answering the question of what, but what about the very natural dimensions of where and when?
Our goal is to provide a coordinated interface where location and time are incorporated into the search experience, contextualizing the search results by plotting them in time and space where they have more meaning and reference. This level of context not only provides insightful search results but provides the user a means to interactively push and pull the space and time parameters to adjust and refine those results. The following sequence describes IDV’s vision of how a user can converse in the realm of search…
Leveraging Microsoft’s Enterprise Search (a free download), The user selects any number of search engines or scopes from which to pull results, for example, Visual Fusion, Flickr, Media Syndications, Live.com, etc.
The search results are displayed graphically by their quantity along a timeline track. The population of search results can then be filtered by a specific date range, refining the search results as the start and end date handles are dragged. Playback and step animation features are also provided to identify time/space trends as search results wave in and out on the map while the timeline animates.
The map provides a visual context for the search results, but also behaves as a spatial filter. Just as the user can define begin and end dates in the timeline, only those files pinned within the area of the current map view are passed to the set of search results. Additional, more specific, spatial querying tool are available, such as hand-drawn areas, specific political areas, or travel time.
Search results that pass through the map (space) and time filters are listed with a hyperlinked title, metadata snippet for content preview, file format type, and publication date. On rollover, a context-sensitive set of buttons is provided, including “zoom to” and “preview.”
Context builds meaning. Providing this visual interaction brings search into the realm of conversational interaction, rather than the rigid, typical, question-answer method. We are excited to keep you posted as we make progress toward a fluid, visual, environment where the visual dimensions of search are not only a means to an end, but themselves an aid to understanding.