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Author Topic: FARR and Indexing Option - Feedback Requested  (Read 14897 times)
mouser
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« on: June 22, 2011, 02:40:47 PM »

As most of you know, one of the things that makes FARR different from some other launchers is that FARR does not index your hard drives, it searches them on demand.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  The primary advantage is minimal memory use; the primary disadvantage is slower search for documents outside of the start menu (more on the motivation for not using indices is here).

Those using FARR primarily as an application launcher are well served by this, but there are times when people would like to have the option of using an index for super fast search of complete hard drive contents.

Now there are quite a few plugins that let FARR interface with 3rd party search indexing tools such as Everything,Locate32,WindowsSearch:

I have long planned to add an indexed search option into FARR, and this last week I began writing some code to do this.. But i'm rethinking my approach.

There are actually a few ways to go with this:
  • I could write my own custom indexing database code - lots of work but would be tightly integrated into FARR; could control memory vs disk usage tradeoffs.
  • I could try to query ntfs master table data directory - search engines like Everything use NTFS data too but also use a database and more tricks; this would be faster than normal FARR search, but to what degree I don't know; would not require too much more memory use.
  • I could try to interface with other search engines like the plugins above do; disadvantage is you need to install those and have them running; advantage is the power of these tools and the ease of coding

I started out thinking that I would like to avoid that last option, but I'm starting to think now that it would be the best approach.

So here is what I'm currently thinking.. I'm thinking that I will make some fairly minor changes to FARR, to allow plugins to more seamlessly do the job of replacing the normal file searching.

The Everything SDK is best suited for a first implementation.

So I was thinking of basically providing the same functionality as the other great Everything plugins that have already been written for FARR, except that you would be able to tell FARR to basically use the plugin to do all normal file searching, rather than having to use an explicit alias to trigger the search.

For those of you who have been wanting indexing support in FARR, what do you think of this approach?

I do think what valid question is:  If you have the Everything tool running, and just one click away, why not use that instead of FARR when you want to search for documents (as opposed to start menu items)..
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2011, 03:34:40 PM »

Maybe I should focus on adding whatever i need to add to farr to allow a plugin to seamlessly take over file system searching, and then let others write specific plugins for Everything, Locate, Windows Desktop Search, that will do the actual work.
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Armando
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2011, 04:40:56 PM »

So here is what I'm currently thinking.. I'm thinking that I will make some fairly minor changes to FARR, to allow plugins to more seamlessly do the job of replacing the normal file searching.

The Everything SDK is best suited for a first implementation.

While I think Everything is great (it's the file name search tool I use the most), I wonder about its development. Doesn't seem too active. But then, it's probably still the best tool, all things considered (resources used, speed, etc.).


So I was thinking of basically providing the same functionality as the other great Everything plugins that have already been written for FARR, except that you would be able to tell FARR to basically use the plugin to do all normal file searching, rather than having to use an explicit alias to trigger the search.

I like that.^

I do think what valid question is:  If you have the Everything tool running, and just one click away, why not use that instead of FARR when you want to search for documents (as opposed to start menu items)..

I use both**, but  prefer to just use Farr when it's only for quick launching.

**Right now, the main reason why I'll often switch to the Everything interface is because of the wrong "diacritical marks" display : all Everything results containing accents/diacriticals aren't displayed properly in Farr. That could most probably be fixed since those are displayed correctly when I'm not using the everything plugin...
The other reason I sometimes switch to the Everything interface is to be able to sort by dates, something I wish Farr was able to do.

Maybe I should focus on adding whatever i need to add to farr to allow a plugin to seamlessly take over file system searching, and then let others write specific plugins for Everything, Locate, Windows Desktop Search, that will do the actual work.

I like that option too.

However, if that path is chosen, maybe one of the more mature plugins should be installed by default. New users could then experience Farr in all its greatness without having to hunt for plugins.  Maybe the "Windows Desktop Search" plugin would be the most suitable -- not my personal fav (still a bit unstable here...) but it might be the most used (installed by default in recent Windows flavours).
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 04:43:56 PM by Armando » Logged

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daddydave
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2011, 04:55:26 PM »

I think it's great that you plan on actually doing this, I've wished for this forever.  Thmbsup

Those using FARR primarily as an application launcher are well served by this, but there are times when people would like to have the option of using an index for super fast search of complete hard drive contents

This seems to me an odd thing to say, although I must be in the minority. I think it is the other way around. If I am searching for files (for which I currently use Locate32), I will tolerate some lag in search results, but when I am launching applications, I don't want to wait for several seconds before I can press Enter as I currently have to do in FARR.* That's the great thing about Launchy, the instant I press a letter, I get the match instantly so I can go ahead and press Enter as soon as I hit the letter if it is the right app. Launchy of course is not as powerful as FARR, but I try to run both and it is hard to get in the right groove with FARR because of this, and wondered if I can set up a somewhat Launchy-like configuration for FARR.


*This is fact is one source of irritation I have with the Windows 7 start menu, compared to using FARR and especially Launchy, is that I have to wait several seconds to make sure I am launching the desired application and not an unwanted Windows file search. FARR's delay isn't as much as the Windows 7 start menu's, though.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 05:00:14 PM by daddydave » Logged
Josh
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2011, 06:17:52 PM »

This is a feature that I have been bugging, much similar to my months of personally pestering mousey on IRC for the filesystem navigation in FARR, for. Database indexing can be a very beneficial feature for FARR if done correctly. Now, for my feedback on the associated options presented by our administrator.

The option to have each search option as a plugin written by users is good but I do not feel it should be the first option for implementation. There should be a core, integrated, feature in FARR simply due to the nature of plugins. Plugins tend to be developed and once the author loses interest, go to the wayside. How many of the plugins for FARR are actively maintained? I feel that either the NTFS or home-brewed option should be the primary option for this.

Depending on the level of work, I would say do the tightly integrated method first. This option will provide the most benefits, memory-wise, and can result in a much quicker search time since FARR can index monitored folders for specific file types at every X interval. That is my first choice. NTFS is a natural choice as well due to the very nature of Windows in the modern age. FAT32 is going to the wayside, especially as drive size increases, and using the journal provides many additional benefits such as access to file properties and possible metadata which can further be used to enhance FARR.

I would like to state, again, that I feel the plugin based option should be considered LAST unless one is going to be developed and maintained by mouser. And this should only be done once the quickest engine for indexing and database searching is identified.

I, for one, cannot wait for this. Mouser will tell you just how long I have been pestering him for this. I am glad to see this feature making its way into FARR, finally.

BE SURE TO POST BETAS/ALPHAS!!! I want to test!
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2011, 06:21:29 PM »

Hi mouser and all. Some thoughts from my usage pattern's point of view. Background: I don't use FARR and Everything wholly separately and I don't use the Everything plugin for searches inside FARR. I use FARR to launch Everything windows with the search phrase intact via an alias pattern at the end of the string in FARR: Typing "ball  " (two end spaces) pops up the Everything window with a search for "ball". Setup details for that:

regular expression pattern box:
^(.*)\s\s$
Results box:
Everything Search: $$1 | dolaunch C:\Program files\Everything\Everything.exe -search "$$1"

(There's some discussion in this old thread: http://www.donationcoder....23518.msg213412#msg213412 )

What I like about that combination: one hotkey and one inputbox to start all searches, you can modify your goal during the process and you can make use of the different advantages of the FARR window (minimalism, large font) and the Everything window (columns, lines, complex multi file handling, like copy, execute, move and delete), depending on what choice you ended up in. I find that use more intuitive, faster and less distractive.

To explain that more I need to describe how I use FARR in three basic ways:

1. launching applications and very frequently launched files. For this use I know exactly what item I'm aiming for and I know that FARR will handle it instantly. I have a set of aliases with the "dolaunch" option for even higher speed. For example typing "ff" instantly launches Firefox. The same goes for FARR plugins and aliases that do more complex things, like using google for currency translations.

2. searching for some not so commonly used file. Such files tend to be in larger folders with a lot of images or music files in my case. FARR can then take a relatively long time searching, so I type any fragments of the filename that immediately pop into my mind and then (if the file hasn't unexpectedly shown up already) doubletab space to instantly show the search results in Everything. For example "submarine mp3  " search Everything for the Beatles track "Yellow Submarine"

3. Searches that lie somewhere between the two, where I'm not in advance clear on which of the two tools will be the quickest and where the exact search goal might get more clear while I type. When testing the alternative with two hotkeys (one for FARR, one for Everything) I sometimes found my self launching Everything and immediately realized that the search really was better suited for FARR. And vice versa. Closing one and opening the other is easy and quick but there is still something subtly disruptive about it. There's a sense that a mistake was made at a step in the process. In contrast, with my preferred use I know that I can't go wrong by popping up FARR. So there's never any hesitation or sense of mistake. The very brief time it takes to enter a phrase in the FARR inputbox is often enough for my search goal to become more focused. By the end of the string I often know if Everything will be faster and, if so, doubletap space. If in doubt then I let FARR run the search for a second more. If no match then I pass it to Everything.

Example: I want to play "yellow submarine" on guitar and first load FARR with the intention to find a txt file with guitar chords for that song. I know that I keep those files in a folder with few other files and early in the FARR search cycle so it will be displayed instantly. I start typing "submar chords". But while typing the next thought strikes: I want to simultaneously view a tutorial video with a guitarist playing the song that I have. That file is in a folder with a lot more files and will be found much quicker by Everything. So I doubletap space for an Everything search on "submar chords" which then includes both "yellow submarine chords.txt" and "yellow submarine chords youtube.mp4" in its results. The nice thing is that all my typing has been made use of. So it doesn't feel like a mistake plus a new attempt. It has the feeling of one smooth flow of actions.

I've set the FARR gui to be minimal. So searches where I'm beforehand unsure if FARR will instantly find the target but where FARR does find it are also minimally obtrusive: I get a small number of results, often with the one I want at top, in a large font in a minimal, semitransparent window. In contrast, bringing up the Everything window will lines, columns menus and buttons is more visually obtrusive. I also have FARR in a fixed position so the eyes "know" where to look even before the window pops up. In contrast, I resize and move around (maximize, restore) Everything windows a lot so have no sense of where they will show up.

I prefer this combo use to using the Everything plugin for searches within FARR because I pretty often need Everything to further filter many results by clicking to change column sort etc. in ways I find the FARR window too limited to work with (I admit I haven't tested FARR's capabilities on that front in a while, since I try to its interface minimal i.e. no columns). I also sometimes have use for an Everything window open side by side with a FARR search (e.g. dragging files from FARR to copy to some folders listed by Everything.

So to end a long post: I'm not sure if and how indexing built into FARR would be of help to me and so have no clear suggestion to give for now. I'm curious what other users will request though and also very curious to hear if others share the types of search experiences I've tried to describe here.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 06:29:24 PM by Nod5 » Logged
Armando
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 06:36:22 PM »

Some great comments here !

@Josh : +1, Well thought. I agree with everything you said.

@Nod5 : I use a similar approach but with the "<" and ">" chars (I'm having issues with spaces)
< : triggers the everything plugin and I see results in farr
<> : launches everything with specific query

While I like this approach -- and I'm sure it could be kept -- it just doesn't feel integrated enough (plus... Everything doesn't have the sophisticated sorting algorithms farr has, etc.) and as such it can't constitute a true long term solution.

I really think farr would benefit from a tighter integration with some kind of index -- like Josh,  I find that good path would be NTFS Master File Table + NTFS change journal.
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 06:47:46 PM »

I see the integration point. The setup I have is not so new user friendly. It is more a use I've gradually morphed into while under the influence of the power of FARR  tongue

Maybe a relevant question here then is: to what degree can such integration be combined with the type of separability that I try to describe as an advantage. Could FARR add ways to easily toggle between two such very distinct modes of search, and still make the experience more integrated than popping up an external window?
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2011, 08:14:17 AM »

I use FARR and Everything in the same way Nod5 described. I use FARR for launching and whatnot, and when I want to search for a specific file somewhere on disk, I pass it to Everything native window using double space at the end. Here I don't need (or want) FARR's sorting and scoring algorithms and aditional features that FARR brings. I just want the files to be sorted alphabetically or by last modified date. I like Everything's option to include (or exclude) filepath from the search, and I also like the option to search using regex.

What I also like is that in Everything I can easily select multiple files, copy them etc. And the windows stays open. I don't like to keep FARR open. To me it is a tool - a starting position to open other tools. I mean, FARR is good at searching relatively small and precisely selected locations (like the start menu or my documents etc), and using aliases and plugins to easily connect me to web sites or services (google, weather, imdb....). It, however, is not a tool to search my entire hard drive, nor it is a tool for editing text, nor it is a file management tool, or even an programming IDE. I have other tools for that.

FARR is great, and it has a powefull plugin system. IMHO, that is enough. Only thing that could be worked on is improving the plugin system so that plugin search results would be included in FARR without explicitly calling a plugin, ie. let browser bookmarks be included in every search by default, or if someone wants - let some file searching tool feed the results to FARR (be it Everyting, Windows search or Locate32 or some other tool)
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2011, 08:49:39 AM »

Mouser, of your three options

1) My preferred choice
2) Although probably quicker than (1) and with the ability to have realtime updates, you have to index file sizes etc separately. Also, it may have the same limitation(s) as Everything (see below)
3) Everything, great in certain aspects does not index dates, sizes etc. More importantly though (for me) is that it cannot index network drives without running on the server. Should you wish to continue with this route, I would like to still have the FARR heuristics with everything (because I can never remember if it is 7zip or 7-zip).

1) above may also help for greater meta-data indexing, which is frequently useful for filtering results (or can even be used for heuristics), as well as run with lower overhead.

Another option could be to start with (3) but with another indexer (e.g. locate32) than Everything, and then create your own indexer to replicate the locate32 index in the next version (although I am guessing that it would be easier to build your own index than to try and figure out what locate32 does), or to start with a very simple index (only filenames and paths) and extend from there.
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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2011, 09:24:07 PM »

Everything SDK???

I'm using FAT32 file system in my WinXp. undecided

Is there other indexing option for FAT32... Sad

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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2011, 07:36:46 AM »

before switching to FARR I used Executor and the thing I miss is the integrated search.   Speed is what is important and so I'd say do tight integration and caching.  Allow the user to specify which folders are searched/cached and depth as well as extensions.  Option 2 seems a reasonable approach.

I've tried some of the plugins and didn't have great success and so I'd not favor that approach.
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 02:19:39 AM »

@mouser: You might like to include the idea of having a FARR interface to GDS (Google Desktop Search).

I have been interested in using FARR to integrate my desktop search for some time.
For example, at the risk of repetition:        Wink
If a FARR search plugin could usefully include Google Desktop Search that could be v-e-r-y interesting - I use GDS quite a lot. It is brilliant. Thmbsup

I had been looking at the FARR plugin "GoogleSuggest", and someone suggested (no pun intended) that I try GooglePlus out.
So I installed it just now, and it runs fine and I think it's a great plugin.

However, I would like the option to be able to feed my search parameters through to Google Desktop and so search my local hard drive.
Is there some way I could do this?

I should explain that I use GDS because it is the most efficient and effective desktop search tool that I have come across (including the short-lived AltaVista desktop product) and:
(a) it indexes all my desktop documents (a mandatory requirement);
(b) it indexes my Outlook email - when I am obliged to use Outlook (a mandatory requirement);
(c) it integrates its search with Gmail (a mandatory requirement);
(d) it integrates its index across all my disparate computer desktops (a mandatory requirement).

For these and other reasons it is leagues ahead of other search tools, including Windows Search and the constipated Microsoft Windows indexing that is necessitated by that.

Now that searches in Gmail automatically include searches of your documents in Google docs, we are getting closer to search Nirvana for this user at any rate.     smiley

By the way, nowadays, I use GDS and the Windows 7 indexing/search - I have reluctantly enabled the latter overhead because it seemed it could be quite useful (and it is) in the START windows search, and, as I have a fast i7 processor and fast (7,200rpm) hard drive, I thought it might not seem slow. However, compared to GDS it is still a noticeably constipated resource hog - this is because I require indexing of file names, file content and any associated meta-data. I think the indexing algorithm for GDS must be much more effective than the Windows one. In any event, and for that reason I have recently considered throttling or disabling the Windows 7 indexing/search and just sticking with the reliable and effective GDS.
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 07:02:08 AM »

I am fairly certain this project got pushed to the wayside. Mouser has, yet again, mousered his own software and promises made to other users. DAMN YOU MOUSER! DAMN YOU!
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 07:36:12 AM »

@yjs14, I use FARR for file searching and it works just fine on my old FAT 32 file system.
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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2011, 01:33:08 AM »

I am fairly certain this project got pushed to the wayside. Mouser has, yet again, mousered his own software and promises made to other users. DAMN YOU MOUSER! DAMN YOU!

Heheheheh.  Thmbsup
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2011, 11:36:48 AM »

any news on this?
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mouser
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« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2011, 03:23:01 PM »

not yet but im aiming for new years.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2011, 09:43:20 PM »

not yet but im aiming for new years.
Which one?
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Chris
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« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2011, 09:47:41 PM »

2022

I have been pestering mouser for this feature for several months now. He has pushed it off in favor of other programs or services which appear to get sidelined as well. One can only hope that this feature will one day see the light of day.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2011, 09:27:10 PM »

He has pushed it off in favor of other programs or services which appear to get sidelined as well.
Putting tongue-in-cheek aside (not easy to do that physically) you gotta admit he's constantly improving something.
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« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2011, 09:40:45 PM »

It was done months ago, there is a parallel development area with a secret download location  cheesy
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Josh
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« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2011, 08:32:26 AM »

cranio: No arguments there, but the problem was he had already started research on it when he decided to jump onto this new thing, which I believe he has sidelined as well as he has not mentioned it in over a month. He is like me when ADHD really ran rampant with me... Just sayin ;-) Or, as I like to say, he suffers from *SQUIRREL* syndrome (See video link below for reference)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBWrMQVsuak
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« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2011, 03:12:20 PM »

Great ideas cheesy

The seamless plugin option seems quite great, flexible and maybe faster to be available.
Personally, I have windows search active, so it wouldn't require extra CPU load to use it. (maybe its not the best to narrow the search to specific folders and file types... I'm not so familiar with this... Maybe there are better indexers to cope with FARR)

Two hot keys could be used to launch FARR, one for the normal search and other for the index mode... Or maybe just an option in the setting...

Have a great day:D
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 03:26:02 PM by Filipe Meira Castro » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2011, 03:18:42 PM »

So, mouser, is this idea dead in the water?
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