Report:PatBase/Search History Interface/Managing Search Histories
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Managing Search Histories
The approach PatBase developers took to search histories emphasizes the log of session activity as the important unit, rather than the individual search strings. This means that search histories are saved as a whole. While adding or deleting individual queries from a strategy can be done, it usually requires several steps.
Search strings are collected on the search history page, shown in the figure below. This page is a record of active queries, meaning their results sets can still be viewed. Only the most recently calculated query on this page can be deleted through the floating toolbar option History >> Clear Last Search; the others cannot easily be removed. Once calculated, the queries can be “cloned” (used as the basis for a new query), but they cannot be edited or changed. Selecting the red query number will “clone” a query by loading it into the command line, where it can be edited and then re-run, becoming a new, separate query.
Choosing to edit a current search history through the floating toolbar option History >> Edit Search History will load the strings into a text editor window. This allows users to make any necessary changes and re-run the entire script to create a new search history (and write over the old one). The history can also be edited using the simple script editor, which can provide a view of the history broken down into individual queries. Both in the standard editor and simple editor view, an "e" will appear in the first line of of the search history. This "e" command appears to delete the previous search history, but if the user deletes the "e" from the first line of text, then the queries of the edited history script will be added to the current history, without deleting the current history.
Saving the search history through the floating toolbar option History >> Save Search History will create a single script containing all the queries currently shown in the search history page. When saving, the system will prompt the user to enter a name; no list of current search history names is provided to the user at this time (choosing a name that already exists will cause the following prompt to appear: "A Search History with this name already exists. Do you wish to overwrite the Search History?"). Once successfully saved, the history can then be accessed from the “My saved histories” page (shown in the screenshot below), accessible through the floating toolbar option History >> My Saved Histories.
As of March 2011, users can archive private folders, searches, and search histories. The search histories can be archived from the "My saved histories" page by selecting the "archive" option beside each saved history. If the user archives the saved search history, they can select the "view archived histories" option above or below the list of saved search histories to either re-load the archived history back into the saved history list or to permanently delete the archived history.
To load a saved history script, it must first be re-run in the PatBase database. (Re-loading a saved history will delete any current unsaved work that is present in the active search history, unless the user deletes the "e" in the first line of the loaded script. If the "e" is deleted, then the loaded script queries will be added to the current search history.) Before a saved history is re-run, users have the opportunity to edit it. At this time, they may be able to delete unwanted strings, or add new queries to the search strategy. For more information, see the Editing Queries section of this article.
After the October 2008 introduction of the Non Latin Text Search and the 2010 update of the command line to accept non-Latin keyword, inventor, and assignee searches, it now appears that non-Latin text queries that have been saved as part of a search history can be successfully re-run when a saved history is being re-loaded. The figure below shows an example of a Chinese-language saved search history that was successfully reloaded as an active PatBase search history.
Unsaved search histories are not automatically preserved in PatBase. Any unsaved data will be wiped completely from memory at the next login, unless the “continue last session” box on the log-on screen is checked before re-entering the system (see the Login and Logout section for more information). Unfortunately for users, this box is not selected by default if the box hadn't been selected during an earlier session (the default settings from the last log-in are preserved), creating a situation where the unsaved search history from last session could be easily lost by accident. (Although the user can always exit, check the box, and log back in to retrieve their search history, if they hadn't run any searches after first logging in. See the Login and Logout section for more information on this solution.)
If a user has accidentally selected the link to "Clear search history," there is a method to retrieve the history information:
- From the Menu drop-down list, select "View my usage."
- Select the month you'd like to retrieve.
- The users can download an Excel file which lists the previous searches and families which you have viewed.
- Copy the required searches from the Excel file and paste them into the "Upload Script" form on PatBase.
- Run the pasted script to re-conduct the searches.
The search history management features of PatBase, discussed above, have some practical consequences. First, because search histories can be lost upon the next log-in if the user is not careful, many users feel that it is wise to periodically save their histories. However, once saved, users might need to continue the search and add further strings to the search history. This can only be done by re-loading the saved history and performing additional strings. The record can then be re-saved with the same name, overwriting the old history. Forgetting to re-load the old history before continuing the search can be a problem: it is difficult to append new strings onto an old search history after the new strings have been performed separately.
Secondly, the search history system in PatBase also means that individual queries are not stamped with a time and date. It is possible that a user will run a set of queries one day, and log off without saving the active history. If the user remembers to select “continue last session” from the login page when (s)he resumes searching the next day, the old search history will still be in the system. The user could then continue to run queries, which would be added to the search history. However, because many of the strings were run the day before, their hit counts may reflect the content of the database from the previous day, ignoring any new publications that may have been added to the database in the meantime.
In general, PatBase’s search history functions might benefit from some revision, not only because of their inflexibility regarding saved histories, but also because so many actions in PatBase have the effect of completely wiping out search histories (like creating a search filter). As another example, loading a saved history after the beginning of a new (as yet unsaved) project will cause the loss of the newer strings (unless the "e" is deleted from the beginning of the saved search script). The possibility of losing new work, along with the extra time needed to save (and later re-load) a current project to prevent that loss, is seen as troublesome by some users. In the patent search business, a record of the searches conducted should always support the search results presented; accidentally losing a history can mean losing an important piece of that confidence.
However, there is a bright side to search history management in PatBase. The ease of cloning and combining queries from the search history page should give a boost to searching efficiency, especially because there is virtually no wait time involved: queries pop into the command line for editing as soon as their line numbers are clicked. The option to delete the "e" at the beginning of a saved script when reloading it also gives the user the option to add the saved script queries on to the current search history, instead of completely deleting the current search history when loading a saved script.