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Project Skyhook

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As some of you may know if you've been following the code commit log in the admin panel, Ian, Grant and I have been hard at work on TDN's Next Big Thing™, codenamed Project Skyhook. A while back we discussed the usability (or rather, apparent lack of usability) of our current search systems, and resolved to replace them with a single Google Custom Search implementation for the whole site. However, after some initial testing it became clear that Google just didn't give us the fine-grained control we needed to provide an especially useful search system for a Neopets help site, and so the project was born.

 

Project Skyhook was conceived with one simple goal: to make it possible for TDN's users to find exactly what they need with a simple click-type-enter-wait-click. With the integration of AJAX technology into the project, that sequence was amended to click-type-click. And after many months of hammering on our keyboards (and our desks, when things didn't quite work out), that goal is almost a reality.

 

What we have built for TDN is a simple, easy-to-use, yet powerful unified site search that we hope we can soon embed in every department.

  • It searches our entire site, from our guides to the Battlepedia to Customisation to Avatars. Once the index for the forums finishes building, you'll even be able to search those. ;)
  • Our custom search algorithm is far superior to our old search. It's even better than Google's when it comes to our site (or so we like to think).
  • It applies simple heuristics to your search terms to figure out what you're searching for (an avatar, a game guide, etc.) and adjusts the search algorithm to match, making your results even more relevant.
  • AJAX is used to execute the search as you type, delivering the results immediately so you don't even have to click search.
  • While the simple Type'n Go interface should be perfectly sufficient for your needs, the advanced search offers even more power for anyone who likes tinkering with their searches. You can customise your keywords, select which parts of the site to search, tweak the search algorithm parameters yourself (or choose from our presets), and so on.
  • We've even been working on a 'quote mode' for the advanced search that uses a special algorithm to rank your results according to how funny they are. If you try it out right now, you'll probably come to the conclusion that our servers have a really dry sense of humour, but we're getting there.

There's a new note in the admin panel with a link to our test setup, so please try it out, play with it, and give feedback. You can even install the browser plugin for rapid access if you like. We're still a few months away from the slated release date (we want to release this with our other Next Big Thing™), so there's plenty of time for us to tweak things, fix bugs, and add new features.

 

Well, that's all I have to say - cue feedback! :D

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Well, I can summarise my long post in three words if you like. :P

 

*ahem*

 

Epic New Search! :D

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Then by all means, try try try! :P

 

Why all departments though, what if it takes you toa weapon that was tagged fire?

 

I think it should just be articles.

The heuristics should be very good at figuring out what you're searching for, and even if they miss, your intended result should be in the first few entries (if not, well, give me an example and I'll tweak the algorithm some more :yes: ). Not to mention that a category switch is but a short click away. ;)

 

Fun tip: you can narrow down the search to a specific department using a keyword as well. Typing 'battlepedia' or 'bd' into the search box will narrow the search immediately to BP results, and so on.

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Perhaps Theo could remind everyone about search engine operator? It's not just useful in the context of this feature that we are testing, but is also used on Google and helps to refine a search :P

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Sure Shadaw, we'll add a mode that can hack into your bank and credit your account with as much money as you need to pay your bills. :P

 

Our query syntax is pretty similar to Google's advanced search syntax, give or take a few features. I'll add a little tip listing the stuff you can do in a few minutes (in the meantime, you can play with the advanced search options to get an idea of which operators do what).

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Alberto,

There's a new note in the admin panel with a link to our test setup, so please try it out, play with it, and give feedback.

 

If you still can't find it, ping me on MSN. :)

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Just wanted to update this topic with that latest developments on this project.

 

Check your staff emails. The link to the prototype with user access is there. ^_^

 

Post feedback as you are able :)

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So I was thinking...

for even more accuracy, should we add keywords to our content page?

 

Don't get me wrong, I love how it works so far. Just thinking of improvement.

 

Also Ian, color sheme is aweful but I already made a few suggestions to you by email ;)

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It's true V, if more of our pages had the keyword field in the admin panel filled, the engine would be even more accurate (and faster, since it doesn't have to select keywords from the entire article). ;)

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V, maybe you could work some of your colour scheme magic and give us some hex colour codes we could use? There seems to be a little disagreement on the more generic colours. :P

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No no no, use purple! Purple is pretty. :D *glances at siggy* So is blue, I guess.

 

But this new search is way cool! :O Thanks for helping me find it, Theo. I'm so un-used to the panel still that I didn't notice it at first. But yes, the servers definitely need a lesson in humour. :P

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Well, this all sounds ridiculously complicated, ultimately confusing, and obscenely fun. I'm so proud to be associated with this incredible group of geniuses.

 

I also just ahve to say that I'm in love with the name of the project. PLEASE tell me you're referencing what I think you're referencing. Otherwise I'll be all kinds of sad.

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No no no, use purple! Purple is pretty. :D *glances at siggy* So is blue, I guess.

Well we're going to need more than one colour for this anyway? :P A purple and blue pallet perhaps? *clueless at graphics*

 

I also just ahve to say that I'm in love with the name of the project. PLEASE tell me you're referencing what I think you're referencing. Otherwise I'll be all kinds of sad.

I'm pretty sure I'm referencing what you think I'm referencing, but I can't be sure unless you tell me what you think I'm referencing. ;)

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*clueless at graphics*

That's where I step in! :D

 

I've noticed that on Content Team, we've got two breeds:

  • The graphics-oriented
  • The code-oriented

:D Hooray for us!

 

 

 

What are you referencing???

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Um... you'll have to ask Brooke. :P

 

And taking the programmer approach to things, I have now implemented a custom colour theme selector, just for the heck of it. V still needs to recommend some good presets though. xD

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Ok, I think I'll start with a neutral shade of grey... then move on a dark blue theme and... oh should I make a TDN red theme, or do we see it too much around our site? Let me know. :)

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