Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alfresco Test Day 6 - Searching and Retrieving

Today I tested Alfresco's search capabilities, including wildcard and boolean searches. These extended search capabilities are especiallly important for long or inconsistent record file names. Every file plan succeeds or fails on the strength of it's search ability. Trust of the system is dependent on the user knowing that when they transfer their record to our repository, they can find it again.
Wildcards allow you to replace a character or string with a replacement wildcard. For example, if I were looking for the "New York Giants Football Club", but was uncertain if the full title was given, I might try "N*Club" to catch "NY" and records with or without "Giants" or "Football".

Boolean web searches use AND, OR, and NOT. A memorable boolean search I attempted a few years ago was for a friend who wanted to open an online antique teacup store. After my first steamy hits on google, I narrowed the search to "buttercup NOT sex". What is it about buttercups and babes? I don't get it.
Anyways, back to testing. I created a few files and downloaded my thirty-nine test documents in to these three files. I then searched for the title, using the complete title and portions only.

After several days of effort, I discovered that I had failed to give myself access to the records I created! When I updated the permissions to the folder, my searches worked.

This is a search for any folders with the title, "Agreement:, and here is the result:

Using a wild card (*) for the title "Contract" worked as I expected, finding me more records.
I rate this test as a conditional PASS
I am still testing Alfresco's ability to conduct boolean searches.

Records Manager
The search feature appears robust, allowing us to narrow the search to any metadata element we've collected.

  • In addition, the search results can be customized to show us the elements we want to see, and in the order we want to see them.
  • Successful searches can be saved and re-used. This allows us the flexibility to build reports as needed to perform RIM functions (such as folders due for review or disposal) without having to customize Alfresco, or start an IT ticket for a custom report.
  • Note that depending on the permissions set-up, different users will obtain different results based on their rights. A user without permission will not even receive notice that the record exists. This is good.
Business User
  • Insist on a product with great search features. Test it out for yourself.
  • Test your own system regularly and follow up for the cause for any failed searches. 
  • The ability to find what you need is critical to the trust of any repository.
  • Add help screens to describe wildcard and boolean searches.

DOD 5015.2 Features C2. to C2., relating to the GARP principle 5, Availability.