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TWiki.FormattedSearchr1.15 - 27 Jul 2004 - 04:42 - PeterThoenytopic end

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TWiki Formatted Search Results

Inline search feature allows flexible formatting of search result

The %SEARCH{...}% variable documented in TWikiVariables has a fixed format for the search result, that is, a table consisting of topic names and topic summaries. Use the format="..." parameter to specify a customized format of the search result. The string of the format parameter is typically a bullet list or table row containing variables (such as %SEARCH{ "food" format="| $topic | $summary |" }%).


Two parameters can be used to specify a customized search result:

1. header="..." parameter

Use the header parameter to specify the header of a search result. It should correspond to the format of the format parameter. This parameter is optional.
Example: header="| *Topic:* | *Summary:* |"

2. format="..." parameter

Use the format parameter to specify the format of one search hit.
Example: format="| $topic | $summary |"

Variables that can be used in the format string:

Name: Expands To:
$web Name of the web
$topic Topic name
$topic(20) Topic name, "- " hyphenated each 20 characters
$topic(30, -<br />) Topic name, hyphenated each 30 characters with separator "-<br />"
$topic(40, ...) Topic name, shortended to 40 characters with "..." indication
$parent Name of parent topic; empty if not set
$parent(20) Name of parent topic, same hyphenation/shortening like $topic()
$text Formatted topic text. In case of a multiple="on" search, it is the line found for each search hit.
$locked LOCKED flag (if any)
$date Time stamp of last topic update, e.g. 21 Feb 2017 - 17:00
$isodate Time stamp of last topic update, e.g. 2017-02-21T17:00Z
$rev Number of last topic revision, e.g. 1.4
$username Login name of last topic update, e.g. jsmith
$wikiname Wiki user name of last topic update, e.g. JohnSmith
$wikiusername Wiki user name of last topic update, like Main.JohnSmith
$createdate Time stamp of topic revision 1.1
$createusername Login name of topic revision 1.1, e.g. jsmith
$createwikiname Wiki user name of topic revision 1.1, e.g. JohnSmith
$createwikiusername Wiki user name of topic revision 1.1, e.g. Main.JohnSmith
$summary Topic summary
$formname The name of the form attached to the topic; empty if none
$formfield(name) The field value of a form field; for example, $formfield(TopicClassification) would get expanded to PublicFAQ. This applies only to topics that have a TWikiForm
$formfield(name, 10) Form field value, "- " hyphenated each 10 characters
$formfield(name, 20, -<br />) Form field value, hyphenated each 20 characters with separator "-<br />"
$formfield(name, 30, ...) Form field value, shortended to 30 characters with "..." indication
$pattern(reg-exp) A regular expression pattern to extract some text from a topic (does not search meta data; use $formfield instead). In case of a multiple="on" search, the pattern is applied to the line found in each search hit.
• Specify a RegularExpression that covers the whole text (topic or line), which typically starts with .*, and must end in .*
• Put text you want to keep in parenthesis, like $pattern(.*?(from here.*?to here).*)
• Example: $pattern(.*?\*.*?Email\:\s*([^\n\r]+).*) extracts the email address from a bullet of format * Email: ...
• This example has non-greedy .*? patterns to scan for the first occurance of the Email bullet; use greedy .* patterns to scan for the last occurance
• Limitation: Do not use .*) inside the pattern, e.g. $pattern(.*foo(.*)bar.*) does not work, but $pattern(.*foo(.*?)bar.*) does
• Note: Make sure that the integrity of a web page is not compromised; for example, if you include an HTML table make sure to include everything including the table end tag
$n or $n() New line
$nop or $nop() Is a "no operation". This variable gets removed; useful for nested search
$quot Double quote ("). Alternatively write \" to escape it
$percnt Percent sign (%)
$dollar Dollar sign ($)


Bullet list showing topic name and summary

Write this:

%SEARCH{ "FAQ" scope="topic" nosearch="on" nototal="on" header="   * *Topic: Summary:*" format="   * [[$topic]]: $summary" }%

To get this:

  • Topic: Summary:
  • TWikiFAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About TWiki This is a real FAQ, and also a demo of one easily implemented knowledge base solution. See how it's done, click Edit . SEARCH ...
  • TWikiFaqTemplate: FAQ: Answer: Back to: NOP TWikiFAQ WIKIUSERNAME DATE
  • TextFormattingFAQ: Text Formatting FAQ The most frequently asked questions about text formatting are answered. Also, TextFormattingRules contains the complete TWiki shorthand system ...

Table showing form field values of topics with a form

In a web where there is a form that contains a TopicClassification field, an OperatingSystem field and an OsVersion field we could write:

| *Topic:* | *OperatingSystem:* | *OsVersion:* |
%SEARCH{ "[T]opicClassification.*?value=\"[P]ublicFAQ\"" scope="text" regex="on" nosearch="on" nototal="on" format="| [[$topic]] | $formfield(OperatingSystem) | $formfield(OsVersion) |" }%

To get this:

Topic: OperatingSystem: OsVersion:
IncorrectDllVersionW32PTH10DLL OsWin 95/98
WinDoze95Crash OsWin 95

Extract some text from a topic using regular expression

Write this:

%SEARCH{ "__Back to\:__ TWikiFAQ" scope="text" regex="on" nosearch="on" nototal="on" header="TWiki FAQs:" format="   * $pattern(.*?FAQ\:[\n\r]*([^\n\r]+).*) [[$topic][Answer...]]" }%

To get this:

TWiki FAQs:

  • How do I delete or rename a topic? Answer...
  • How do I delete or rename a file attachment? Answer...
  • Why does the topic revision not increase when I edit a topic? Answer...
  • TWiki has a GPL (GNU General Public License). What is GPL? Answer...
  • How do you log off? Suppose I log in with the guest username but later I want to use another username, how do I log off from the guest user name? Answer...
  • I've problems with the WebSearch. There is no Search Result on any inquiry. By clicking the Index topic it's the same problem. Answer...
  • What happens if two of us try to edit the same topic simultaneously? Answer...
  • I would like to install TWiki on my server. Can I get the source? Answer...
  • So what is this WikiWiki thing exactly? Answer...
  • Everybody can edit any page, this is scary. Doesn't that lead to chaos? Answer...

Nested Search

Search can be nested. For example, search for some topics, then form a new search for each topic found in the first search. The idea is to build the nested search string using a formatted search in the first search.

Here is an example. Let's search for all topics that contain the word "culture" (first search), and let's find out where each topic found is linked from (second search).

  • First search:
    • %SEARCH{ "culture" format="   * $topic is referenced by: (list all references)" nosearch="on" nototal="on" }%
  • Second search. For each hit we want this search:
    • %SEARCH{ "(topic found in first search)" format="$topic" nosearch="on" nototal="on" separator=", " }%
  • Now let's nest the two. We need to escape the second search, e.g. the first search will build a valid second search string. Note that we escape the second search so that it does not get evaluated prematurely by the first search:
    • Use $percnt to escape the leading percent of the second search
    • Use \" to escape the double quotes
    • Use $dollar to escape the $ of $topic
    • Use $nop to escape the }% sequence

Write this:

%SEARCH{ "culture" format="   * $topic is referenced by:$n      * $percntSEARCH{ \"$topic\" format=\"$dollartopic\" nosearch=\"on\" nototal=\"on\" separator=\", \" }$nop%" nosearch="on" nototal="on" }%

To get this:

Note: Nested search can be slow, especially if you nest more then 3 times. Nesting is limited to 16 levels. For each new nesting level you need to "escape the escapes", e.g. write $dollarpercntSEARCH{ for level three, $dollardollarpercntSEARCH{ for level four, etc.

Most recently changed pages

Write this:

%SEARCH{ "\.*" scope="topic" regex="on" nosearch="on" nototal="on" order="modified" reverse="on"  format="| [[$topic]] | $wikiusername  | $date |" limit="7" }%

To get this:

WebStatistics TWikiGuest 20 Jul 2015 - 01:26
ManagingWebs FabioVitali 20 May 2014 - 18:15
WebHome FrancescoPoggi 09 Jan 2013 - 11:49
TWikiRegistration AngeloDiIorio 03 Oct 2011 - 15:25
SablotronPlugin AngeloDiIorio 21 Feb 2006 - 00:19
TWikiPreferences FabioVitali 20 Feb 2006 - 23:32
NewUserTemplate AngeloDiIorio 18 Nov 2005 - 15:12

Search with conditional output

A regular expression search is flexible, but there are limitations. For example, you cannot show all topics that are up to exactly one week old, or create a report that shows all records with invalid form fields or fields within a certain range, etc. You need some additional logic to format output based on a condition:

  1. Specify a search which returns more hits then you need
  2. For each search hit apply a spreadsheet formula to determine if the hit is needed
  3. If needed, format and output the result
  4. Else supress the search hit

This requires the TWiki:Plugins.SpreadSheetPlugin. The following example shows all topics that are up to exactly one week old.

Write this:

%CALC{$SET(weekold, $TIMEADD($TIME(), -7, day))}%
%SEARCH{ "." scope="topic" regex="on" nosearch="on" nototal="on" order="modified" reverse="on" format="$percntCALC{$IF($TIME($date) < $GET(weekold), <nop>, | [[$topic]] | $wikiusername | $date | $rev |)}$percnt" limit="100" }%

  • The first line sets the weekold variable to the serialized date of exactly one week ago
  • The SEARCH has a deferred CALC. The $percnt makes sure that the CALC gets executed once for each search hit
  • The CALC compares the date of the topic with the weekold date
  • If topic is older, a <nop> is returned, which gets removed at the end of the TWiki rendering process
  • Otherwise, the search hit is formatted and returned

To get this:

Embedding search forms to return a formatted result

Use an HTML form and an embedded formatted search on the same topic. You can link them together with an %URLPARAM{"..."}% variable. Example:

Write this:

Find Topics: 
<input type="text" name="q" size="32" value="%URLPARAM{"q"}%" />
<input type="submit" value="Search" />
%SEARCH{ search="%URLPARAM{"q"}%" format="   * $web.$topic: %BR% $summary" nosearch="on" }%

To get this:

Find Topics:
Result: Number of topics: 0

-- TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny - 26 Jul 2004
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Copyright © Fabio Vitali 2017 Last update of FormattedSearch on 27 Jul 2004 - 04:42 by PeterThoeny