Odd Item Finder Pro search results

Steps to reproduce

Open Item Finder Pro and type in a search phrase

Expected result

I would expect items with a contiguous selection of the search characters to be found

Actual result

The search results include items with any non-contiguous set of the search characters


Web browser - latest version of Chrome
No third party scripts

Additional information

Here I am trying to search for the term “Crestview”. Crestview is in the search results, but about 10 items down from the top. The top of the list is populated with terms that have any non-contiguous set of the search characters.

2020-04-06 odd finder search results

Additional comments

1 Like

Hmm what does the actual matched item looked like 10 items down?

I believe the algorithm prioritized a few things

  1. the match being at the beginning of the item
  2. the match being the shortest (i.e. best match)
  3. the item being the shortest

Maybe I should adjust the weighing a bit to prioritize your case, but it’ll depend on how your item looks like.

I am confused – why would I ever want this search method to find non-continguous characters? That seems like an obvious bug to me.

Below is a different search that finds the item sought…but every other item in the search results are…IMHO…erroneous search results.

If I wanted to find non-contiguous characters, I would have typed "c r e s t v i e w ". When I type “crestview”, I do not want to see 2020-04-07 odd finder search results (2)

I see no value in presenting search results of non-contiguous characters.

1 Like

Your problem is very much like my post Item Finder Results. I think it is better now than when I posted, but I still have some strange situation. Like when I search for “Erie”, in the third letter “i” it starts showing “Serial” & “Verify”, and I have “Erie” the exact word.

It does seem like the same, or similar, problem. Thanks for providing a link to your prior bug report.

I agree that fuzzy search is nice, but exact phrases should be at the top of the list, then partial matches with a significant number of contiguous characters matching…and near the end of the list should be items with only one or two contiguous character matches.

Right now, items that clearly are not the target of the search drown out the item being sought.

I’ll tweak the weighing of non-consecutive matches and test out to see if the algorithm could perform better!


Thank you!

Ummm…why is this marked “fixed”? As far as I can tell, it’s still very broken.

I know I said “thank you” a few days ago, I meant “thank you in advance for the fix you are going to implement.”

The search results still favor results with non-contiguous characters from the search phrase over exact matches – which is nonsensical. This feature is broken.

The status should be marked “open”.

1 Like

I agreed. Just like when I search for Pablo or Santos, it starts to show non-contiguous in the second result.

image image

1 Like

I’m still in the middle of tweaking the weighing but it shouldn’t completely eliminate non-continuous results. There’s still a few cases that fuzzy search is useful: initials (“sf” matching San Francisco Airport), typos, reverse letters, sometimes you only remember a part of the word, etc.

I do completely agree that continuous results should be ranked on top - if you have cases that doesn’t do that, please show me what the query and matched texts looks like and I’ll check why my algorithm isn’t working properly.

@KC I’ll check the @Pablo case in your first screenshot.

1 Like

I’ve also retracted the Fixed tag and put Tracked in its place.

Thank you for the prompt response, Shida!

BTW, I didn’t expect this to be fixed overnight or even be that high on the priority list. But I became concerned when I saw it marked as fixed this morning and I was still getting non-contiguous search results listed above exact matches.

I tested it again just now and it appears to be listing exact matches first! Yay!

BTW, are the search results supposed to be a scrollable list? For me the list is static – showing a few top results, but I cannot scroll down to see if there are any other search results further down in the list that are of interest.

Cool so you are seeing some improvements!

As for scrollable list it totally should. I’ll make sure that’s addressed in the next patch.


Thanks for the reply. I never said that fuzzy search should be completely removed. But for my examples, I have over 20 Pablo and 4 Santos, and the Item Finder only shows 6 results (yes, I only see static results too), should continuous results be on top of the list? I think the ideal results should show as follow.

Search - San for Santos
1 - San Diego
2 - Santos
3 - MorningSanDiego
4 - s a n
5 - a n s

So the way the algorithm works is really just penalizing each result based on a number of criteria:

  • How close the matches are (more distinct pieces gets punished)
  • How well the search matches word initials (characters that only match middle-of-words gets punished)
  • How far back the result was (if the match happens more at the end of the text, it gets punished)
  • And a few other edge cases like misspelling a word, which all get penalized in the final scoring.

In my opinion, to get accurate results, you should use at least 4~5 letters. It’s more difficult to say whether “sa” matches more closely to “I feel very sad” or “South America”.

In our previous iteration of the algorithm, there were times where typing a full word (5+ characters even) would lead to results matching individual characters spread across a sentence, before the almost-exact match which happened to be near the end of the text. A good example is in the original post. That should be fixed now though.

1 Like

@Erica has a fix for the scrolling issue done. Will be coming out in the next few days.


It is interesting to looking at this situation from the perspective of a programmer. And even I totally don’t understand why “It’s more difficult to say whether “sa” matches more closely to “I feel very sad” or “South America”.”, but I thank you for all the time you spend on tweaking and explain it to me. Have a great weekend and stay safe.

Thanks for working on this – I’ve often had problems with irrelevant results in the Item Finder, which is partly why I’ve resorted to workarounds like prefacing important items with . or \. I’m looking forward to being able to scroll, as well as seeing how the prioritization can be improved (so hopefully I won’t have to scroll, and maybe I won’t even have to mark important items).

One related wish: would it be possible to include results where the words are in a different order?

(I have many items whose name includes two or more keywords whose order is somewhat arbitrary. Examples: “CSS Customization / Customizing CSS” “Music Reading Apps / Apps for Music Reading” “Medical Philosophy / Philosophy of Medicine” “Dynalist tools for Chrome / Chrome extensions for Dynalist”. It would be nice if a search for two or three of the relevant keywords – or the beginning of the keywords, e.g.: custom & css, music & reading & app, medic & philosophy, chrome & dynalist – in any order would suffice to locate the item.)

While I’m dreaming, let me add one more wish: for Item Finder to also search path names. If this were combined with the above wish of flexible word order, then I could use the Item Finder (or Move Item function) to search for, for example, notebook software reviews and find the relevant item no matter whether it’s currently named and filed as Notebook Software Reviews or Software > Notebooks > Reviews or Notebook Software > Reviews or anything similar.

Regarding word order, that’s something we can consider although it could be a pretty big change to the algorithm, and could have some conflicting behaviors in terms of ranking the results. What you’re suggesting more closely resembles our search (filter) algorithm for searching within a document.

As for searching the file path, I think that’s a possibility too. I’m pretty sure it’s been posted somewhere in feature requests before.

I didn’t even realize this was a bug, I just thought it was the way it was designed. Really happy that it will be scrollable now!

1 Like

@Shida Has the scrolling issue been fixed? I still don’t seem to be able to scroll in item finder.