Search 2.0: Now Better, Faster, Stronger

Mmm, dogfood. Here at PBwiki, we make use of our own product pretty extensively. And having used an internal PBwiki for some three years, we’ve accumulated a pretty large collection of material! This makes it ever more important that we be able to search it and find what we’re looking for. So we’ve dramatically overhauled (and improved) search.

You may have noticed when PBwiki search improved a few weeks ago, getting phrase search, boolean inclusion/exclusion, and filename matching. Well hold onto your pants, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Search has been dramatically restyled again:

  • Information about who last edited a page and when
  • Suggesting page names similar to your search query
  • An adding helpful icons to the result list to let you quickly distinguish wiki pages from PDFs
  • Giving up to 200 characters of “snippet” context (vs 80 previously)
  • Ranking search results and interleaving results from wiki pages, discussions, and filenames
  • Letting you drill down to only search pages with a given tag or in a certain folder

OLD Search:

NEW Search:

Coming very soon? The ability to search inside PDFs, Word DOCs, Excel files, PowerPoint, and more.

If you have feedback about this new feature, what you like and don’t, please chip in here and I’ll read every comment! ๐Ÿ™‚

Published by David Weekly

I like starting things. I founded PBworks (originally PBwiki) and am the cofounder of SuperHappyDevHouse and Hacker Dojo. I advise a dozen startups and am a mentor for Founders Institute, i/o Ventures, and Women 2.0.

16 thoughts on “Search 2.0: Now Better, Faster, Stronger

  1. This upgrade is very welcome and overdue. The icing on the cake for me is the ability to search inside uploaded files. Then you will definitely have a product approaching an intranet replacement. Of course you got to think about document versioning as well. Why not not integrating document editing with Zoho writer?

  2. Nice features, shame they don’t work, at all. Searches that used to work now return nothing, nada, zilch.

    Can we have the old one back, at least I could find things


  3. Cy,

    Hi! Sorry search isn’t working for you. If you could give a link to the search you’re trying to perform I can dive in and see what’s wrong.


  4. try this one as an example.

    I went to

    and searched for “HBMS Victory (1765)” and got

    No matches found for “HBMS Victory (1765)”.

    Create page: “HBMS Victory (1765)”

    Which is obviously wrong.

    It used to be I could serach for “HBMS Victory” and get all page names that matched in alphabetical order followed by other pages with hits. Now I just get a random order, which isn’t as useful (for me at least) is there a way round this?


  5. Hello Aegis,
    When you signed up to update your wiki at http://www.pbwiki/2 you should have gotten an email walking you through the update steps. I’ll contact you directly with instructions.

    PBwiki Support

  6. Cy – whoops! Looks like you have a pretty big wiki – 2,184 pages! Totally awesome. What’s happening is that our search engine is timing out trying to chew through all of your pages; we’ve got some changes coming out today and next week that should speed things up and allow us to return much more complete results. Our apologies for the lack of complete results in the interim!

  7. Cy – take a look at your searches now – you’ll notice that HBMS Victory and Great Britain both return results as expected. Thanks again so much for your feedback in making search better!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Thats much better, excellent and quick response. I’m impressed ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for the complement, but we haven’t really started yet, expect something in the order of 15,000 pages by the time we’ve finished.


  9. Erin,

    Hi! Thanks for taking the time to write in and help us improve our search algoirthm. The old search algorithm certainly didn’t use stopwords and we’re considering adding them into the product. Feedback from folks like you with specific stories and links, as you provide, will help make this happen and help overall make search a better experience.

    Incidentally, the reason why your phrase search failed is because of a colon. The entry you were trying to find was “Wyoming: Courage in a Lonesome Land”. We’ll have to look into whether it makes sense to ignore punctuation in phrase searches, but this seems to be a case for it.

    You’ve inspired me to do some algorithmic tuning this weekend to produce some better results for your wiki next week. Continued specific feedback is going to help us very quickly make this the best wiki search on the Net!

  10. Hi! I like the new search – two quick notes on what I think could be improved:
    1) When my search string is somewhere in the text, the current settings shows one word prior to the string, so it’s hard to guess the context. Example search for “horse” would be
    * Transportation *
    by horse! This of course was difficult at best.
    I believe a few more words before the query string would help make sense of the result.
    2) Minor thing: I use the wiki in German, where capizalization of words is common. When searching, I still use lowercase. Correctly, the search finds upper- and lowercase occurences, but offers me to start a new page “horse” although the page “Horse” exists. No problem to ignore, but I can’t think of a situation where this would be helpful, so I say: Check case-insenstive wether to propose a new page.

    Apart from that: Way more intuitive!

Leave a Reply to J. Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: