IRP User Guide: Simple Search

Simple Search is straight-froward, easy way to search the database. There is only one entry field, but it peforms three different types of searches depending on the format of the search term. The Simple Search page offers quite a good description of what it does, and although some of that information will be repeated here, this page will go into greater depth by working through examples.

The Search Entry

Enter search terms here! You can press the Return/Enter keys on your keyboard or click on the green search button on the right to execute the search. To the right of the search button is a help button which brings up the Quick & Easy Guide to Regular Expressions. We will explore how we can use regular expressions to improve our searches below. The search is case insensitive, so it does not matter if you use upper or lower case characters.

Search Results

The search results are presented with two panels:

Result Controls
Results Panel

The Result Controls

The Sorting controls


The Browse help button The help / user guide button

Press the button to show this user guide.

The sort button The results control buttons:

All images / main image toggle By default when sources are shown in the results panel each source appears once and the main image is displayed. When All Images is toggled the source will be shown multiple times in the results, once for each 
Refresh button The refresh button re-sends the query to the server. This is useful to update the results when the database changes. For example, if viewing the last page of results when browsing by BSIP Reference, pressing refresh will update the results with any new sources added to the database and the updated results will be shown.

The sources per page selector The Per Page selector

This drop-down is used to select how many sources (not images) are shown per page. 

The paging controls The Page Selector

 The page selector is used to page through the results. On the left is the previous page button, on the right the next page. The first and last pages are always shown and may be navigated to directly by pressing either '1' or the highest numbered button. As you step through the pages of results the page selector will show direct selectors for a few pages each side of the current page, providing a quick method of skipping a couple of pages.

browse-srccount.jpg The Number of Sources block.

This shows the number of sources which have been found.

The bottom of the results control panel shows the summary block:

The summary block controls a button to start a new search, then it provides a summary of the search criteria. Pressing the edit icon allows the current search to be edited.

The Results Panel

Each source in the results is shown in its own block. Depending on the sorting the top of each source will show the data relevant to the particular sort order being use, such as the date when sorting by date. The main image for the source is shown. Then there is a sub-panel which contains the main details. If there is too much information here the panel may be scrolled. Clicking on the source shows the Source in the Source Image Viewer. The collection controls will be shown in the SIV and provides for stepping through the search results without having to return to the search results and select another source.

If the All Images button has been toggled there will be one source result shown for every image in that source.

At the bottom of the results panel is another paging control for convenience.

Now we are familiar with the search entry and results display, let's examine how we can use the simple search by walking through a number of scenarios.

Searching using text

Simple text is treated as you would expect - as a basic search term, and 14 separate fields are examined to try to locate the sources.

The fields searched are: names of sources, names of people involved, the place of creation location names and full geographic context, custodian reference, last known location names/full geographic context/sigla, collective source names, collective source custodian reference, collective source location names/full geographic context/Sigla, and tags.

All the vocabulary items and source entries allow for multiple names and these will be included when searching. For instance, artist names may have various spellings, or indeed have names such as il Veronese. If you enter any one of those acknowledged variations the search will find all the sources related to that person. The same applies to locations and so on. Thus even a basic search term can be quite responsive, and has a good chance of showing what you are looking for.

Searching using the BSIP Reference

This may seem non-sensical as we can navigate directly to a source if we know the BSIP Reference. However, searching on a BSIP Reference instead shows us all sources which have the source as one of their relations, as well as all relations of the referenced source, and the source itself.

When viewing a Source the Relations are shown in a tab in the Source Details Panel. This panel only shows the relationships that the source has with other sources. It does not show the relationships other sources have with that source. Whilst in general relationships are added by curators in both directions there are exceptions. Searching for a BSIP reference shows all related sources.

Searching based on dates

There are 4 types of date based search are available in the simple search; sources where the earliest year matches, sources from a specific year onwards, sources up to and including a specific year, and sources within a range of years.

To search for sources where the earliest year matches just enter the year.
e.g. 1500 

To search from a specific year onwards (and the earliest year can be after this year) enter the year followed by a hypen.
e.g. 1500-

To search for sources that have both the earliest date or latest date that fall into a specific range enter the date range.
e.g. 1500-1599
In this case it will only show sources that are wholly contained in that range and will NOT include sources where the range overlaps the start, end, or where the entered period is a sub-range.

To find sources where the earliest and latest dating for the source match a single year enter a range that contains the same year.
eg. 1500-1500

To find sources where the latest year is before or equal to a specific year we enter a hypen followed by the year.
eg. -1500

If these do not produce the results we desire we can use the advanced search to very precisely search on the earliest, midpoint or latest years or a combination. See the IRP User Guide - Advanced Search for more details.

Regular Expressions - Getting more out of simple search

The Quick & Easy Guide to Regular Expressions displayed from the question mark button to the right of the search entry gives us a good grounding. Let's see how we can use the knowledge.

Helping control names - Let's try a quick search for paintings by Gerrit Dou. So we just enter


as the search term. Simple Search will also show results from any artist whose name includes dou. We can narrow this by using the regular expression special character $. $ is shorthand for the end. so if we search using


the results will no longer include results by Francis Douce or the Doulton Ceramic Factory. We can also use the ^ character to indicate the start so if we search for 

^circle of gerrit dou$

we should only get results for that artist, because the search term is now quite specific. But what if we want everything by the studio/workshop/circle/follower of Jan Steen? We have two methods we can accomplish this. The first uses a combination of special characters '.*'. The period means any character, the * means 0 or more occurences. We could also use + instead of * in this case, as + means 1 or more occruences. If we search for

of gerrit dou$

we will now see those artworks not by the artist themselves but those within their influence. What if we want the studio, circle or workshop of, but not followers? Again regular expressions allow us to easily specify a group of options. These options are specified by using round brackets () and separating each option with a bar (pipe) symbol | like this:

^(circle|studio|workshop) of gerrit dou$

Let's look at another example. We would like to see anything made by the techniques of inlaying or intarsia. We can simply specify these as options:


It is best to keep regular expressions to specify what you want - they get incredibly complicated when trying to search for things where you want A, or B but not C. 

Usually the simple regular expression enhancements to search terms highlighted in the Quick & Easy Guide will be the solution. The Advanced Search uses these same regular expressions. So if we found simple search was still returning too many results we could use the same search terms in the specific field of the advanced search. Thus we can search on only the artist's name field instead of the 14 fields matched by Simple Search. Regular expressions are also used in the Browse Selector panel filters, so once you have started to use them to improve searches you can use them across the IRP.