Enable operators & wildcards breaks some searches

I recently noticed that my document searches were not working as expected.

I tracked this back to the new feature in search to “Enable operators & wildcards”.

This essentially prevents the ability to search on partial words and breaks the search functionality.

I suspect it has to do with the RegEx for the wildcard search is erroneously using word boundaries as part of the query and does not return a result unless it has a space after it.

A simple example.

Create a document and in the text put these lines:

someone did that
something happened
some one did this
somebody is there

now do a document search (CMD-F) for “some”
in previous versions of DT it would find all 4 occurrences of “some” in each line
but if the new wildcard box is checked (which apparently it is by default)
it only returns one result in the line “some one did this”

While a work around is simply to uncheck that box. It is still a bug as RegEx should find partial results not just word boundary results (unless it is expected that now I have to type some* every time I search?)

Also frustrating that this got turned on by default , breaking previous functionality. And I’ve noticed that even after unchecking it, it seems to check itself again in some circumstances (have not figured out exactly when / how, maybe on apps start).

Update: I did more testing and this option rechecks itself EVERY TIME after a search when switching documents. To reproduce:
Go to a note and bring up search box
Uncheck “Enable Operators & Wildcard”
Do a search
Switch to another note and hit CMD-F
that option reenables itself for the new search and one would have to manually unselect it again (and again and again)

In that case there appears to be two bugs here

  • fixing the RegEx word boundary issue
  • remembering that setting if it is unchecked and not rechecking automatically

There’s no bug in the search here.
If you’ve enabled Operators and Wildcard and merely entered some, it will not match that as a substring. It matches as a word unless you add the wildcard after the term, some*.

As far as it re-enabling itself, @cgrunenberg would have to look at that.

Fair enough on the * operator, but seems to me that by enabling this by default, it breaks how people search from previous versions.

I wonder how many customers are RegEx minded and how many just want to search a partial term and have it return all words that contain the fragment without additional syntax.

I don’t think we have any specific metrics on this.

FWIW, I am a fairly technical person and use RegEx at times, but most often when I search my docs for something quickly I’d expect it to just return partial results without adding operators. Perhaps I am atypical to other DT users but I’d think some other people found this to be a source of frustration and may not have correlated that the new wildcard checkbox is the cause.

It shouldn’t be enabled by default, only when the viewed document is a toolbar search result. Can anyone confirm this?

I can confirm that just moving around docs without using toolbar search, the checkbox turns itself on repeatedly and consistently by just

  • searching for a term in one doc
  • moving to a new doc
    and then the option enables itself
    turn it off, repeat
    same result

you can see a video I recorded here https://imgur.com/a/s4amJIo

Thank you! The next release will fix this.

Great to hear. Thanks!

I’m running 3.6.2 and can confirm that the option is not getting checked via the previous flow I discussed above.

However, it is still checking itself at random times. I have not pinpointed when it occurs but can confirm with certainty that I have not checked that option (and saw that it was unchecked a day or two ago), and today when I go to search, it is checked.

I’ll try to see if I can reproduce the exact steps to when it is getting checked. But wanted to give a heads up that while one path is fixed, there seems to be another that is checking the “Enable Operators & Wildcards” option without user interaction.

It should be checked e.g. after a toolbar search.

I don’t get that.

If I was a totally non technical user and never wanted to do a wildcard search (as it actually messes up normal searching if you don’t use wildcard characters), I would want to uncheck that and never see it again.

Why then would the app just randomly turn it on for me if I don’t use that function and never want to?

To ensure that toolbar search results and Search inspector results are consistent.

To ensure that toolbar search results and Search inspector results are consistent.

As a developer, that makes sense.

As a user, when I uncheck a box to disable an option, it is frustrating when it keeps getting turned on again without any idea why or how to stop it from doing that.

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Personally I’d love to be able to customize almost any behaviour of an app, however I don’t want to be the person who does the support for such an app. We can’t expect that users always know what they’re doing and that they are aware of what they changed. That’s especially true if something didn’t work as expected and one started to randomly alter settings. I can imagine that’s a nightmare for those who do support.

That being said I’d love to see more hidden preferences in DEVONthink. Seems a lot of users don’t read the documentation at all or if they do they skip the “Hidden Preferences” part. If that’s true then adding more hidden preferences probably wouldn’t result in more support requests but would serve those users who love to tweak or simply need special settings.

Meta feature request: Please add a hidden preference if the reason for not implementing a feature or setting is the limited space of the preferences window.

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We may add hidden preferences for some edge cases or feasible but minority requests, not due to crowded preferences.

I have to agree here. I am finding it really annoying that the option constantly re-checks itself when using the toolbar search.
If the idea is to keep results consistent, could we not simply move that option to the toolbar search options? Or, at the very least, have it only reset itself after a new toolbar search is generated.

I frequently use the toolbar search to filter documents for multiple words, and then use the sidebar to search for the locations of only one of the words I searched, and go through the documents one by one. I constantly have to disable the option so that I get results for variants of the same word. Of course, I could just add * to the end, but that looks a little weird in a non-coding environment…

Thanks Joao for reiterating this.

After a few months of this behavior, I can still confirm that this “feature” is very annoying to me. I can’t see how devs find this acceptable to introduce a setting / checkbox that constantly enables itself even when a user explicitly turns it off. And one that inhibits a whole major functional area of the product.

A lot of people don’t think in regex and wildcards and don’t want to add a * to every search term, nor do they want to constantly uncheck a checkbox over and over (if they even realize that is what is screwing up their searches as that is not obvious either).

As it doesn’t seem to be a common issue, the next release will just add a hidden preference to disable this.

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Following up. Did you add the option to disable this, and if so, where is that setting?