Regular Expression Search

Discussions about using and improving the new FamilySearch online application.
StevenTomer
New Member
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:02 pm

Regular Expression Search

Postby StevenTomer » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:24 pm

I'd like to be able to use regular expressions to do searching. I'm guessing it's probably allowed by the back-end database, just not by the user interface. I know you can use the wild cards * and ?, but this is insufficient in many circumstances.

Here's a concrete example:

I'm looking for the surname Greenbank including it's variants.

Acceptable are:
Greenbank
Greenbanke
Greenbanck
Greenbanks
Greenback (This is a common mis-indexing of Greenbank)

Not acceptable:
Greenbaum
etc.

So I'm limited to Greenba* (too few) and Greenban*.

I know that regular expressions are not in general use by the novice user, but for a power user, they're amazing. Incidentally, Microsoft Word and Excel have them for searches, so it's not that uncommon.

Thanks,

Steven Tomer

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aebrown
Community Administrator
Posts: 14971
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:48 pm
Location: Sandy, Utah

Re: Regular Expression Search

Postby aebrown » Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:53 am

StevenTomer wrote:I'd like to be able to use regular expressions to do searching. I'm guessing it's probably allowed by the back-end database, just not by the user interface.

I really doubt that the back-end database has regex support.

StevenTomer wrote:I know you can use the wild cards * and ?, but this is insufficient in many circumstances.

In addition to the basic wildcard searching you mentioned, FamilySearch has built-in support for matching based on the sounds of names and similar roots. For example, searching for "Smith" might match "Schmidt"; searching for "Paul" might match "Pablo"; etc. Those kinds of searches aren't reasonably done with a regex, but are much more useful for the population at large.

I'm a big fan of regex in many situations, but I doubt that FamilySearch would implement this rather technical searching option. Nonetheless, you are certainly welcome to use the Feedback link (located at the bottom of most pages on FamilySearch.org) to make your suggestion. No decision maker is likely to see your post here.


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