Friday, October 12, 2007
Search in T2 was a feature I wanted to get right. It turned out to require a bit more design attention than you might expect. I don't know if you've stopped to think about it before, but search works different ways in different applications.
For example, in iTunes search hides the categories and songs which don't match the criteria, so the list if songs being shown is getting smaller as your search criteria becomes more specific. In a word processor, search does not hide all the non-matching words. Instead, it highlights the found words in context of the document, often sequentially.
When you are looking at a timeline with many events, what do you want to do when you use the search feature? Probably, you want to locate a particular event in order to make a change, or perhaps you are presenting the relationships between certain types of events. For example, take a look at the following timeline based on WWI events as described in Wikipedia:
As I mentioned in a previous post, there are 254 events in this timeline and it spans over 100 pages. Let's say that I wanted to present all of the events related to France. If I search for the word "france", the events which do not match will fade down but will stay in place in order to provide context to the events regarding France:
By contrast, in Bulk Edit mode the search hides all of the events which do not match the search (à la iTunes). This is because the chronological relationships between events are not reflected in this view, so there is no value gained by keeping the events on screen which do not match the search.