Friday, October 17, 2008

Powerful Name Searching

This article describes some techniques for more powerful name searching in halFILE and e.halFILE. I hope you find these handy.

* Search for a name when you are not sure if you have the first name or middle name
* Search for a name when you may have inconsistent punctuation

For the most part, your posting rules should ensure that names are consistently entered into halFILE. You should decide up front, for example, whether or not to use punctuation.

I was recently asked how I can search for a name, whether the name being used is the first name or the last name. I also recently discovered a client database where the rule was to include punctuation in the name fields; but this rule had been broken for a series of documents. The documents were imported with no punctuation. We have a program to fix that by removing all punctuation (thus changing their rule to NOT use punctuation). In the meantime, however, we needed a search that would ensure that all names were properly found. The solution was the % wildcard character.

Instead of searching for "Smith, John" or "Smith John", search for "SMITH%JOHN" to find documents posted as:

Smith, John
Smith John
Smith Robert John
Smith, Robert John

* Search for a name when you are not sure what letter is in a certain position

Some names can be spelled more than one way. The 2nd technique uses the underscore wildcard as a placeholder, telling the system that ANY character can appear in this position to obtain a match.

For example, if you search Grantor = GONZALE_ MARY

You will find:

These are two of many powerful search techniques in halFILE and e.halFILE. I hope they prove to be useful.