Submission Note: Due to time constraints, this submission has to be scaled down to a Proof Of Concept (at the last minute), with about 80% of features functioning at this point.


With current default search interface, when you need to search a document, you first need to come up with a keyword string, and then type it in the search box, then click on the Search button. However, coming up with an accurate keyword string and typing it into the box requires time and efforts; and if your keyword string is not accurate, you will have to spend extra time refining your keyword string, or sifting through a long list of results.

What it does

This app solves this productivity and user experience problem by enabling you to start searching without a keyword string. Unlike searching the Internet, when searching in the SharePoint or enterprise environment, often you already have some ideas what the documents you are looking for are about, such as whether it is a Word or PDF, whether it is a picture or video, whether it contains a company name or phone number, or whether it is related to a certain topic, etc.

When your intention to search is detected, such as when the cursor is hovering over or placed in the search box, before you enter any keyword, important attributes of all documents in the collection are presented near your cursor. You can just select what you already know about the document, and the results will be dynamically displayed. For example, if you know your document is a Word document, or a picture, etc., just select "Word" or "Picture" that is prompted to you. Often, you can quickly find what you are looking for with one or two clicks, without entering a keyword and then sift through a list of results after clicking the Search button.

In case you really need to enter a keyword, this app can also help you get your results faster. First, after you have entered the keywords, you don’t need to press the Search button; attributes of the documents containing this keyword are automatically displayed before you press the Search button. So instead of pressing the Search button, now you can just select the attributes that you know about the documents you are looking for, and retrieve it with one or two clicks, without spending time and efforts in coming up with an accurate search query, or sifting through a long list of search results.

The design of this feature is based on the cognitive principle that people tend to maximally utilize their existing knowledge and memory to narrow down their search scope to get their result faster, which also applies to document search.

Challenges I ran into

Had very little time to build this app.

What's next for Instant Search for SharePoint

Further perfect it into a high-productivity app, and expand it to Windows Search and other Cloud-based document Search.

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