The Art of Searching

Rosalind Collins, Deputy Commissioner of Revenue for the City of Charlottesville, VA, provides a guide for effective and optimal searching in Laserfiche.

Retrieving documents in the Laserfiche repository can be difficult without implementing a consistent folder structure, assigning intuitive folder/document names and effectively using Laserfiche search mechanisms. I have found that the following strategies will make finding documents efficient, fast and easy.

Implement and maintain a robust folder structure

A robust folder structure will make browsing for documents within the repository less time consuming and more efficient. Here are some things to keep in mind when setting up your folder structure:

  • Make sure you start with broad folders and then get more specific. This is not only easier for users, but it also simplifies security.
  • Make sure each folder has a specific purpose—there should be no empty or unused folders.
  • Subdivide crowded folders. Don’t fill one folder with hundreds of documents.
  • Match your folder structure to your existing organizational structure.

Be aware of naming conventions

  • Make sure your folder and document names are self-explanatory and intuitive for everyone from managers to data workers.
  • Maintain consistency throughout your repository by implementing similar naming conventions across the board.
  • Use unique entry names—duplicate names can be very confusing.
  • Take advantage of automation products, such as Quick Fields, to assign unique names and proper locations to documents.

Utilize Laserfiche search functionality

“Searching is more art than science.”

Though both a robust folder structure and consistent naming conventions are important and will greatly simplify document retrieval within the repository, the fastest and most efficient way to find documents is by utilizing the Laserfiche search mechanisms. Here’s how you can improve your searching techniques:

1. Index your text

Make sure that your documents are full-text searchable. Each document and image must be indexed by the search engine during the import process in order for this to happen.

  • Image files cannot be indexed directly by the Search Engine. Each image file must be OCR’ed first and the OCR’ed text must then be indexed.
  • To see whether documents have been indexed or not, look in the “Indexed” column in the folder view.

2. Select the type of search to use.

Within Laserfiche, you can perform a large variety of searches by:

  • Words or phrases in a document’s content.
  • Document or folder name.
  • Template or field information.
  • Within a folder volume.
  • Annotation content.
  • Creation/modification date.
  • The user who created it.
  • Electronic document status.
  • Whether it contains pages.
  • Document relationships.
  • Tags or tag comments.
  • Version.
  • The user that checked out a document.
  • Any combination of the above.

In addition to those mentioned above, Laserfiche 8.3 has more pre-configured searches.

3. Decide if you need to use fuzzy search

Fuzzy search is used to find all the words or phrases that are similar to the word or phrase you typed. This feature allows the Laserfiche Search Engine to find words even if they have been misspelled or OCR’ed incorrectly.

The degree of accuracy in fuzzy search is determined by either of the following:

  • The number of characters.
  • The percentage of the word.

Some drawbacks of using fuzzy search:

  • The search takes significantly more time.
  • When you employ a percentage of the word search greater than 40%, the fuzzy search is not the most efficient option.

4. Try the advanced search

Advanced search syntax allows you to create extremely specific searches that are beyond the capabilities of the Search User Interface. You can then save these advanced searches as quick searches that can be used by other users without having to know advanced search syntax.

Example: You can use advanced search syntax to find all subfolders within the main “Employees” folder that do not contain a document named “Non-Disclosure Agreement.”