Posted to Open Discussion Forum on 6/17/2014
Massive Improvements to the Search Engine
For the past two months, we have been working to make some
major improvements to our next generation search engine for
the iATN Knowledge Base. These updates have been released
steadily over the past few weeks, with the last of them
If you haven't tried the new search engine recently, please
keep reading, and then give it a try:
The new search engine launched into beta last year, and
offers many, many improvements over our legacy search
engines. It will soon be taking precedence over those legacy
search engines, which means we'll start showing it by
default to newer premium members, and we'll be prompting
existing premium members to use it as the preferred search
interface. (The legacy search engines will remain available
to existing premium members for the foreseeable future, but
will not be receiving any updated features.)
Many of these improvements came from feedback from members,
so please keep it coming, by clicking the "Feedback" link at the
bottom/right side of the search engine.
Read on to see what's new and improved!
We've made many improvements to our Smart Vehicle
What's New: Smart Vehicle Builder now provides
better results, and allows more flexibility in filtering
down to specific submodels and engine sizes just by typing
them. E.g. Build a 2006 Ford F-150 XLT 5.4L by typing "06
f150 5.4" and selecting from the short list of vehicles.
VINs are also more forgiving, by recognizing and ignoring
common mistakes. And now during the vehicle build process,
we return up to 30 suggested vehicles, rather than the
previous 10, which should make it even easier to use.
For those unfamiliar with the existing Smart Vehicle
Builder feature: The search engine is most powerful
when you are doing a specific vehicle-based search, which
you can do very easily by typing a year, make, and model (or
even just a year and model), or by typing or pasting a VIN
into the search box, and selecting one of the vehicles
shown. Building a specific vehicle allows us to expand your
search to include not only documents related to that
specific vehicle, but other vehicles with the same engine
package, which we do by default. (You also have control over
how the specific vehicle is used… just click the
vehicle's box to adjust whether it's searching based on
similar engine package, similar models any engine, exact
vehicle, and more.)
We've introduced a new feature we refer to as
Vehicle Builder Assistant.
Although we feel that building a specific vehicle by typing
year/make/model or entering a VIN is the fastest way, we
recognize that many of you prefer the older "click-to-build"
style of vehicle entry. We also found that many of you don't
build a specific vehicle, but simply search based on make
and model names. The results will generally not be as good
this way, as we are unable to do some of the smarter
filtering based on similar models, unless you tell us the
precise vehicle you're working on.
For example, a search for "camry" will yield all documents
that contain that model name, but if you told us you were
working on that 2006 Toyota Camry 2.4L, we could include
documents tied to the models of Corolla, Highlander, Matrix,
RAV4, Solara, Scion tC and Scion xB that share the same
engine package (and similar variations). You can't get that
by typing "camry."
What's New: With Vehicle Builder Assistant, we
notice what keywords you've entered, and what filter
categories you've applied, and we try to help you build a
specific vehicle. For example, if you search for "camry"
now, you're only 2 clicks away from building a specific
vehicle. You can ignore the Vehicle Builder Assistant and
search however you like, but it's there if you want it.
You can also start a new search using the Assistant. Just
click on the new vehicle icon that appears on the right side
of the search bar, and we'll start by asking you which model
year you're interested in, and help you build a vehicle "the
old-fashioned way." :-)
Many improvements to Supercharged
What's New: In addition to incorporating the latest
improvements from Identifix, we've boosted the number of
Supercharged Searches by about 5 times what we were doing
previously, and improved the reliability of the results
PLUS, you now have more control over whether or not a term
is Supercharged. By default, we will Supercharge any term
that we can, as it normally gives you better results. But
now you can disable this on a term-by-term basis. Just look
for the terms with a lightning bolt next to them, and you
can click them to disable Supercharged Search temporarily
for that term.
For those unfamiliar with Supercharged Search: This
feature comes courtesy of our sister company, Identifix. It
enables us to find documents based on auto terminology
similar to the words you've typed, providing you with many
additional matches accounting for the different ways people
refer to things in this industry. For example, "misfire" is
will also match "Miss", "Engine Misfire", "Missing",
"Cylinder Misfire", "Misfires", "Skipping/Misfire", "Misses"
and similar terms.
Recognizing what you want instead of what you
We're continuing to fine-tune the search engine based on the
types of searches we see performed. So if you type
"waveform," now instead of searching for the word
"waveform," we're going to search our file library for
waveform files. Same thing goes for scandata, photos,
documents, and datafiles. Similarly, if you type forum, file
or TechHelp, we'll actually search in those areas of the
Knowledge Base, rather than searching for those keywords. If
you really wanted to search for any of those terms, just
wrap it in quotes when you type it. E.g. type "forum" with
the quotes, and we'll literally search for the word "forum"
in our index.
User Experience Improvements
We made many changes to speed up searches, by eliminating
unnecessary queries (such as when navigating
forward/backward in your search history to results we've
We added a progress bar so that you can now more easily tell
when the search engine is doing something.
When you're searching in the forums area, the Forums
category filter on the left now shows you all forums, rather
than just the top 10 by document count.
We now highlight the last document you clicked on in the
search results, so that when you return to the search
results, you can easily see where you left off. It remembers
the highlighting for each search result, so if you are
navigating back through your search history, the
highlighting will still be there for every page.
The filter categories on the left have always started out
collapsed by default, and auto-expand when you hover over
them (except on mobile/tablet, where we can't detect
"mouseovers" so we expand them by default). We do this
collapsing/expanding because most of the categories have
many filtering options, and there are so many categories to
choose from... we want to make it easier to see them all.
However, prior to today, it could be annoying to use, with
them sometimes collapsing when you didn't expect it. This is
now fixed. Any category you hover over will stay expanded
during your current search.
Major improvements to the indexed data, DTCs and
We haven't just focused on the user experience. We've spent
a lot of time on the quality of the indexed data, including
eliminated many false positives, especially for DTCs.
Because of the many ways people type (and mistype) DTCs, we
do some pretty vigorous DTC parsing to try and capture as
many DTCs in documents as we can. As it turns out, perhaps a
bit too vigorous. :-) We have improved these algorithms, and
will continue to fine-tune them as we go. We also improved
the results you get when typing in DTCs by hand, rather than
using the DTC category filter on the left side bar…
they should now be more equitable.
There are too many bug fixes and incremental feature
improvements to list them all, but suffice it to say, your
experience using the search engine should be vastly
If you are having any issues, or would like to provide
feedback, please use the Feedback link at the bottom right
side of the search engine. Or if you just want to discuss
the search engine, feel free to reply here. Thanks!
Here are the primary features of the new search
engine, for those unfamiliar with it:
It allows you to search across all of iATN from a single
place, and it's FAST. No longer do you need to go into
separate search engines for the forums, files, and fix
database, nor learn the different ways each of those search
You can quickly filter down into interesting documents
without even typing: Just click on the category filters on
the left-hand side of the search engine. For example, click
the new "Has Vehicle" filter under the "Options" category,
and you'll be looking at everything posted on iATN that has
had a specific vehicle attached to it, across files, forums
You can easily build and search based on a specific vehicle,
in a variety of ways. This allows us to make your search
more powerful than if you merely type or choose a make or
You can quickly filter down to documents written by a
specific author, by typing "by …" such as "by danny
iwama," to find all messages by Danny Iwama. Likewise, find
replies made to someone by typing "to …", such as "to
paul baltusis", to search for replies made to Paul Baltusis
in the forums. Shortcut: type "by me" or "to me" to find
posts by and to you.
Filtering by date is both extremely easy and powerful. Type
"in 2012" and hit enter. Or "since last month" or "from jan
1 to jan 7" and hit enter.
We try to sort things automatically so it makes sense. If
you're searching by an author's name, or with a category
filter, we'll sort by date. If you're searching based on a
vehicle or keyword, we'll sort by most relevant (highest
scoring). But you can change the sort preference at any
You can subscribe to any date-sorted search as a feed (i.e.
RSS). What this means is if you've stumbled across a really
interesting set of search results, and you want to know
anytime there is a new result that matches, you can do it.
Just click the "feed" icon that appears in the right side of
the keyword bar when your search is date sorted.
We will continue to focus on improving the search engine to
provide the best possible experience. Please keep your
feedback coming, we appreciate it!
Brea, California, USA