Help on Search

The site allows a generic full text searchand more specific searches for values of certain database fields, called specific field search.

Details of each search type are described in the sections listed below. Please use the table of contents to go directly to the topic of interest.

Table of Contents:

Full Text Search

The full text search allows simple search terms (including phrases) as well as complex search combinations using keyword AND plus OR (Boolean search terms grouped via parenthesis) and other operators.

Case Sensitivity

Search terms/phrases are not case sensitive.

Search for all Objects

To search all objects for a given moduleuse the asterisk wildcard character (‘*’) without any other search phrases.

Note that only a single asterisk character (‘*’), that is not embedded or contained in a search phrase or complex search query, is interpreted as search for all objects.

Search for all objects is ignored when specific field search values are entered.

Simple Search Words (Terms andPhrases)

The simplest search is based on single words such as "portrait" or "flower" (quotes are not necessary). All words specified must be matched by the search result (unless the webmaster defined the behavior to contain any word, i.e. OR combination).

Those single words are also called single terms. A simple search contains a single term of one or more search words (with or without operators).

A phrase is a group of words surrounded by quotes such as "portrait of a lady". A phrase must match a corresponding text sequence to produce a search result.

Phrases and single search terms may be combined to define more complex searches.

For example: "portrait of a lady"  flower rose

When doing so, each search phrase and single term must be contained in a search result to produce a search hit.

Wildcard Characters

Wildcard characters allow definition of partial search terms.

We allow search for a single character or multiple characters:

Search Operators (Boolean Operators)

More advanced searches can be defined by using search operators in combination with single terms and phrases. They allow terms and phrases to be combined through logic operators.

The following operators are provided:

Operator Explanation Example
(without quotes)

The '+' or required operator requires that the term after the '+' symbol is matched in the search result.


This is the default behavior of the application.

+madonna +child
(without quotes)

The '-' or prohibit operator excludes results  that contain the term after the '-' symbol.


The prohibit operator cannot be used with just one term. For example, the query “-child” will return no results..

madonna -child
AND, &&
(must be all upper case)

The AND operator links to terms and matches results where both terms exist.

It is similar to the "+" operator and most useful in combination with the grouping of search terms.

The symbol && can be used in place of the word AND.


This is the default behavior of the application.

madonna  AND  child

OR, ||

(must be all upper case)

The OR operator links two terms and matches results where either of the terms exists.

The symbol || can be used in place of the word OR

madonna  OR  maria

NOT, !

(must be all upper case)

The NOT operator excludes results that contain the term after NOT.

The symbol ! can be used in place of the word NOT.


The NOT operator cannot be used with just one term. For example, the query "NOT maria" will return no results.

madonna NOT maria


Grouping of search terms can be used to define the behavior of operators (and hence form sub queries. Grouping is achieved via parenthesis ("(", ")").

By default, the following precedence rules are applied:


(madonna OR maria) AND child AND (Weyden  NOT kranach)

Searches for all items containing either "madonna" or "maria", contain the term "child" and contain the term "weyden" but not the term "kranach".

Fuzzy Search

The '~' character at the end of a search term produces search results that are similar in spelling to the given search term.

"boat~" may produce search results like "boat", "coat", "goat" etc.

Note and Limitations:
Fuzzy search are not handled in phrase searches.

Proximity Search

Proximity search allows searching for words that are within a specific distance from each other

To do a proximity search use the tilde('~') symbol (without quotes) at the end of a search phrase.


To search for a "maria" and "child" within 5 words of each other use the search:

"maria child"~5

More Information on Search Behavior

The search is mostly powered by Apache Lucene search engine (see for details).

Specific Field Search

Field Types and Search Behavior

Specific fields are listed to define the desired result for a search. They represent database fields in the application and can be configured to appear as

Combination of specific search fields

The search result will meet all search criteria for all fields where at least one search value is specified.

Combining Specific Field Search and Full Text Search

Providing search values for full text search field and specific fields will eventually find results matching all specified criteria, regardless if they are defined in full text search field or specific search field.

Ignored Words (Stop Words)

Depending on the way the site was implemented and the currently selected language, the search may ignore specific words (so called stop words).

Some examples for stop words:

Filtering of special characters

Accentuated characters are treated like their non accentuated counterparts.


ö à o, ä à a, á à a, Äà A, etc.

German sharp s ("ß") will be treated as "ss".


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