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Refining search capabilities in your Configurable Apps

Many configurable apps include a search tool so users can find addresses and features in the app. By default, the search tool is configured to search all sources in your map. You can fine-tune the search options to find only the most relevant results. This blog demonstrates three common ways to refine search functionality so your audience can easily discover the right information.

Limit available search locators and results

As a default, all locators available in your organization appear as options in the search tool. When configuring your app for use by the general public, we recommend offering only one locator. Otherwise, your users may be confused by the menu of options that appears when entering an address. You can configure the search tool to use only certain locators, which improves the accuracy of search results. As an example, let’s look at how to limit available locators in the Zone Lookup app.

Search menu with three available locators
  1.  Review all available locators. In the Zone Lookup app’s configuration panel, click the Search Setup tab. Notice that all the locators in the organization are turned on.

Note.  If you have administrative privileges to view and change organization settings, you can modify the default locators on the Utility Settings tab.

Search options in the configuration panel

2.Turn off unnecessary locators. In this example, I want users to search for their address using the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service. Turn off the other potential locators to streamline the user’s workflow when they search for their address.

3. Configure the locator. Next to the selected locator, click Edit to open the configuration options.  Change the default settings to best fit your audience’s needs. For example, you can add helpful placeholder text to prompt users for appropriate search values.

Search tool examples with and without placeholder text

Let’s quickly review the other options you can configure:

Selecting the correct search locators and expertly configuring them improves your app’s user experience.

Configure a custom locator view

Refining the search tool in the app configuration panel allows you to fine-tune and limit the search experience for that specific app. For additional refinement options, you can create a locator view to use a customized locator in multiple apps.

The ArcGIS World Geocoding Service supports multiple methods to find addresses, including the ability to search for street addresses, points of interest, intersections, and more. Using the app configuration options can refine search results, such as limiting a search to a specific country or map extent, but there are situations that require more refinement. As an example, in this Time Zone Lookup app, the search is configured to return all possible search options, including places of interest.  When I want to search the current time in Japan, the suggestions offer Japanese food as an option before the country of Japan. You can create a locator view as a quick way to adjust the World Geocoder by excluding places of interest to better fit the needs of your audience.

Partial word typed in the search tool and several irrelevant suggestions

Here is a quick overview of how to create a custom locator view. (For detailed steps, see ArcGIS Blog: Customize your Geocoding experience with Locator Views.)

  1. Create a locator view. On the Content page, click Create, choose Locator (view), and specify the item details.
  2. Define the locator view. On the item page Settings tab, choose to find only specific types of locations (such as Addresses, Coordinates, or Places of Interest) within a relevant area.
Locator view item settings
  1. Share the item with your organization. On the item page Overview tab, share the locator view with your organization (or with everyone, if your app will be available to the public). You need to share the locator view so the intended audience can access your custom locator in your app.
  2. Configure it for use in your organization. Ask your administrator to add the shared locator to your organization in the organization settings. (On the Utility Services tab, in the Geocoding section, click Add Locator.)
  3. Configure your app to use the locator view. Once you’ve created a locator view, it will be available in the search configuration options. The image below displays the same app using a custom locator view that excludes points of interest, thereby producing a more relevant set of suggestions. Try the up
  4. Test your app, perform a search in the updated Time Zone Lookup app.
: Partial word typed in the search tool and only relevant suggestions

Configure feature search

You can also configure the search tool to find specific features within the layers in your map.  Your app users can search for a specific feature based on an attribute value. When the search tool finds the feature, it’s highlighted in the map and automatically opens a pop-up with details about the feature.  Check out this Attachment Viewer app configured so the search queries the well feature layer. Well IDs are used for the search instead of an address or coordinate so users can find a specific well based on the ID system that exists in the data and view the attribute information in a pop-up.

Search suggestions for Well ID feature search

To configure feature search in your app, follow these steps on the Search tab of the configuration panel. (For more detailed steps, see ArcGIS Blog: Setting Up a Searchable Feature Layer in Configurable Apps.)

  1. Make the feature layer available as a search source in your app. Click Edit to open the feature search settings. Turn off other search sources.
Search tab on the configuration panel with feature layer search enabled

2. Configure the feature search settings. For placeholder text, provide an instruction so users know what to search (such as “Search Well ID”).  Choose whether to provide search suggestions and how many to display.  Specify which fields in the layer to search. (To select multiple search fields, press the Ctrl key while clicking the field names.)

Search settings for the feature layer with multiple search fields selected

 

3. Test your app, verify the search behaves the way you intended.

Try out one or more of these search configuration methods to refine search capabilities in your apps and improve the user experience.

About the author

Beth is a Product Engineer on the ArcGIS Online team.

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