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Status Messages in Desktop Search

Desktop Search iconThis item may be just a minor detail, but it’s an improvement that shows to me that the SLED team are still driving in the right direction.

The Desktop Search in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is extremely helpful. However, if you have just copied a whole bunch of files locally, or maybe you just recently added an email account that contains a lot of messages, those items may not appear in your search results until the search engine has had a chance to index the new data. But that means that you just need to wait, right? No. Getting incomplete results from a search tool leads users to mistrust this important productivity feature.

In a recent Novell Open Audio interview, SLED10 usability team lead, Anna Dirks, tells how her team repeatedly found that users would not use search. Even when assigned obvious find-the-file tasks, they would go through file after file looking for a keyword! Why? Windows users don’t trust that desktop search works. So, Novell’s desktop usability team has become pretty conscientious about making sure that users find as few reasons as possible not to trust search on Linux. (Beyond Novell’s revenue objectives for SLED10, there’s some really good thinking there. The SLED10 team essentially takes an approach that says, let’s try make this feature something that gives users a better experience on Linux than on other platforms. Desktop Linux needs a lot more of that kind of thinking.)

So, to that end, another one of the interface improvements coming up in Service Pack 1: you now know when SLED 10’s Desktop Search engine (Beagle) daemon is still indexing your data: a simple visual cue and message lets the user know what’s going on so that they can search with confidence, knowing that the indexing service is still laboring away faithfully for them.

It looks like this:


7 Responses

  1. Nice one – btw., although I know that Beagle is supported by Novell, what does Novell think of the other search machines?
    What does Novell think of strigi or of tracker?

  2. Probably not as favorably as Beagle – they are paying Nat Friedman’s salary to develop it for them. Strigi is based on a port of Lucene, the same search back end base that Beagle uses.

    I really wish they would shrink the icons and text in the interface a little so you could see 10-15 results per page.

  3. Senor Frosti [2]:
    Beagle is actually maintained by Novell’s Joe Shaw. (It should be noted that Joe is what we Californians call, “the dude.”) But, otherwise, your conjecture is probably sound.
    Regarding the icons, I could not find a way to shrink them, so I will try to file an enhancement request. Until it gets accepted (if), I recommend maximizing the results window. This will embiggen the area for displaying icons, and more will show.
    Happy searching,

  4. I wish they did something about the ugly fonts. They’re unreadable, fuzzy spacing is incorrent. That’s the one thing everyone at my office is complaining about. Fonts.

  5. M. Duran [5]:
    Can you give me a bit more detail on what your users are complaining about? Is it the font shown in the screenshot on my blog post, or is it a problem in a different interface?

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