As we have mentioned on this site multiple times, performance and ease of use in regards to searching is one of the most frequent concerns as it relates to use of Documentum. During our review of D2, we thought it would make an interesting blog post as well as video to compare searching across the different options (D2, Webtop, HPI and XCP) with Documentum. For our review, we are only presenting configuration only approaches without any customization.
Why Documentum Search is so Important
Without going into great detail in regards to folder navigation versus search, it is easy to see that most consumers want a simple way to get to content quickly and accurately. As we have touched on before, there needs to be some education as to why, despite asking for it, users need more than just “A Search just like Google” as we highlighted in an earlier post. A quick summary:
- Google search is a full text only search based on a variety of things (what you liked before, what others liked, where you are from, what is trending….). That type of search makes great sense for searching the web but is not relevant in a corporate ECM implementation.
- Corporate searches tend to be more list driven (ex: show me all the SOPs for this plant) where the user wants all of the relevant documents – no more, no less.
For consumers, quick and accurate search access to documents is often times the most critical component for customer satisfaction, often times making up for some of the laborious items users don’t necessarily like to do (check-in/check-out, add attributes, security, etc.). Alternatively, users who are unable to perform the simple function of quickly finding a document or reviewing a group of documents can be very vocal in their complaints.
Build a Search – D2 and Webtop
Documentum developers are very familiar with the power of the Documentum Query Language (DQL) in that, like SQL, users can build very robust queries to search across documents.
For D2 and Webtop, the user is required to select a document type and then build the search by selecting an attribute (ex: Document Name), an operation (ex: equals, <,>, contains) and then a value. Users add additional criteria by selecting “add a line”, an operation for the line (AND, OR) and then adding another attribute, operation and value.
D2 has facilities to configure “Build a Search” so that the search interface to limit the available document types and attributes in the search criteria. This makes D2 not quite as cumbersome as Webtop, but it still requires a considerable number of clicks to execute a search.
Configure a Search – HPI and XCP
xCP and HPI present a little more of a “Configure a Search” approach. D2 has an admin-configurable query form, however, we found the functionality to be limited because we were not able to include optional date and full text fields in the form.
Basically, both xCP and HPI are built/configured for users in that users would only want to search certain attributes in certain ways to avoid all of the decisions with building a search and all the extra clicks. Some examples:
- Defaults – A Documentum Admin can configure the search for the most common searches with attributes clearly already chosen and visible for the users. User can skip any attributes that they don’t want to fill out to get their search without having to build the search.
- Drop-Downs and Equals – Leverage of drop downs for picking “Equals” values avoid users selecting “Contains” or other operations that could result in inefficient searches.
- Tracks/Groups – HPI allows the administrator to specify a group or track for certain searches to allow multiple searches to be configured.
- AND Search – A simplified interface only relies on an AND search for multiple attributes to avoid user confusion. The use of an OR could just be divided into separate searches.
D2 has introduced an admin-configurable query form as a “Configure a Search” approach. However, after reviewing the functionality, we found the functionality to be limited. We weren’t able to configure a query form with optional date fields and full text input.
Search Results – Separate Window – D2 and Webtop
Both D2 and Webtop present the results in a separate window than the search query. In both applications, the user is prevented from performing actions in the search results window while the search criteria window is open.
Both give the ability to sort the results by column (up or down) as well as different options for display/configure which columns are displayed.
Search Results – Same Screen – HPI and XCP
xCP and HPI give a split screen view of search results where users can see the search criteria as well as the search results. HPI uses a side by side view where xCP uses a top and bottom view.
HPI also allows users to show/hide search criteria for more screen real estate. xCP’s top/bottom approach can be difficult in that, the more search criteria, the more real estate is lost for search results.
We have found the split screen to be more efficient for users because the context of their search remains on the screen at all times, and they can, based on the results, quickly add or remove criteria to refine their search. Some other results observations:
- HPI allows for users to easily add/remove columns as well as move column order. D2 and Webtop offer this capability but they are not as easily accessible.
- xCP currently only allows an administrator to configure the order and visibility of search results columns.
Some observations between the different options:
- PDF Rendition – Webtop, D2 and xCP default to the native document type (Word) rather than the PDF rendition if one exists. We have found that, for most searches, users really want to just view/print the content, not wait to launch the native authoring application (Word). HPI defaults to the PDF if it exists.
- Separate Screen – all of the applications provide the ability to view content from the search results screen without taking the user away from their search results. Webtop and D2 use browser plugins (Java for Webtop and ActiveX for D2) to automatically download the content in its native format and launch the native editor (Word, Acrobat) to display the content. HPI launches the content in a new browser window, displaying PDF files (when available) in Adobe Reader without the use of a plugin. In xCP, single-clicking on a search result will display the document in an inline viewer (Adobe Reader, Brava!, Daeja Viewer) in the right panel of the screen. Double-clicking opens the document in a separate tab within the xCP application.
We would break down our recommendations in regards to Consumer searching as follows:
- Small Consumer Group – either a small consumer group (that would go through training) or a consumer group that would also be authors would fit in a Webtop, D2, or HPI environment “out of the box”. You would probably not want to build out an xCP instance for a small group.
- Large, Diverse Consumer Group – would want to leverage either xCP or HPI to focus on user efficiency with a simple configured search based on common scenarios. Experienced users or admins could leverage more difficult search in either D2 or Webtop as needed.
Look for additional review thoughts for all the options for check-in/check-out and workflow shortly.
What’s Next in Search – Mobile
As we talked about this in previous articles, but we really see the next iteration of search being focused on Mobile. Check out this demonstration in our learning zone to see an example as well as review Documentum’s mobile offering.