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What is a Boolean Search?

Everything you need to know to get you going with Boolean searching.

This article is for anyone who needs to carry out Boolean searches but is new to the subject or has little experience with them. This article is not an exhaustive explanation but should cover what you might do in Aconex.

Boolean searches work by combining words and phrases with one or more words, known as operators, to limit, widen and define what you're searching for. Operators are, for example, quotes or question marks, and the words AND, OR, and NOT. These words have to be entered as capitals or they are not recognized as Boolean operators.

Although Boolean searches can be quite complicated, the most common ones are simple to write and understand.

In Aconex, you can only run a Boolean search in the Super Search field in the following modules:

  • Documents
  • Mail
  • Field
  • Tenders
  • Workflows
  • Supplier Documents modules.

How do I Boolean?

Usage is very simple: you just add the operators in capitals between the individual words you want to search on. For example, if you search Support Central for 'documents' you'll get a lot of results. But if you enter you enter 'documents AND mobile' the number of results is limited to content that only has both words.

You can extend this idea by using AND more than once to search on multiple terms. For example, 'documents AND mobile AND drawings'.

OR and NOT are used in the same way. So, if you enter 'documents OR mobile' the results would include all content that containing either of these words.

If you enter 'documents NOT mobile' your results would only contain the content with the word 'documents', and exclude content that contains 'mobile'.

Another simple operator is quote marks, which you can use to look for an exact phrase. Let's say you want to find out information on a specific field in an Aconex module. You can do this by entering its name in quotes. For example, "Document Detail".

Other operators include:

  • ? –  use this to run a single character wildcard search. In this case, you use it to replace a character in a word. For example: ‘mo?el’ which will produce results for ‘model’ and ‘motel’.
  • * - use this to run a multiple character wildcard search. For example: ‘model*’. This will produce results for ‘models’, ‘modelled’ and ‘modelling’.

Neither of these wildcards can be used as the first character of your search.

Combining multiple operators

Stepping up a level, you can use operators in combination with each other. The following example combines a search for two fields in the Documents module.

  • (area OR plan) AND architectural

Here we want to find either of the first two terms in conjunction with the third. So EITHER of the first two can be in the content - it doesn't matter if one doesn't exist - but the third HAS to be present. So the results would contain content for ‘area AND architectural’ and ‘plan AND architectural’.

Great, where can I find more information?

There are several articles in Support Central that describe how to use Boolean searches in Aconex. These are:

You can also find out more by reading any of the many internet articles, see here for an example.

There are other kinds of Searching in Aconex, as well as using the Super Search keys.

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