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Advanced Boolean Searches

Sep 27th, 2011


Jeremy Ashkenas

DocumentCloud now supports advanced boolean search queries, allowing you to more easily perform searches that hone right in on the documents you’re trying to find. You may be familiar with boolean operators from other search engines, but here’s a quick refresher on the available options:

  • and: both terms must exist in the document   Perry and Romney
  • or: either term may match   indicted or accused
  • !: the term must not exist in the document   obama !barack
  • *: a wildcard to match any sequence of letters   J*e Smith (Matches Joe, Jane or Jake Smith)
  • ( ): group together words into a term   (Perry or Romney) and governor


Here’s an example of what that last search looks like in action:

Behind the scenes, we’re using the latest stable release of the open-source Solr/Lucene search engine (3.4.0). It includes a new query parser called “edismax” that adds boolean operators to the previous implementation of full text search.

Give boolean searches a spin, and let us know if they’re working well for your ongoing projects.

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