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Centralized Search is a Major Advantage of Using a Component Content Management System (CCMS)

Searching is a critical activity for anyone creating or managing content in a CCMS. The ability to search through all of your docs, with one search, is a major advantage of having a centralized single source database of your content. When you have content being created and stored in different places, because of the tools used to create it (like MS Word), it cannot be found by someone that does not have that file in their system. You also can’t search across various media like PDFs, online help, slide decks, etc. Each medium requires a separate search, which is frustrating, prone to error and time-consuming. Using a DITA CCMS centralizes your content and centralizes your ability to search in that content.

But Search Speed and The Ability To Fine-Tune is Equally Critical

This is where the search speed of the system you are looking at becomes a major consideration when deciding which CCMS to use. It is not uncommon for larger organizations with many products to have hundreds of thousands to millions of DITA topics and other elements in their system. Designing efficient search systems for large content sets is not particularly easy. A basic plain text search will return large numbers of non-relevant results. Faceted search driven by good metadata gives you the ability to choose parameters for the results you are seeking, things like ‘date-created’, ‘author’, ‘product’, categories, etc. But none of that matters if you have to sit and wait, watching little wheels spin, everytime you search.

We optimize our search for ease of use and the ability to search through millions of DITA elements (topics, metadata, maps, etc.) in a fraction of a second. When you’re creating complex documents with large maps, fast search can save a lot of time and it is a many-times daily task for content creators and managers. So search speed matters in quantifiable ways.

Search Speed is a Measurable Metric (both in time and cost savings)

Search speed is affected by the number of records being searched. In addition, the number of simultaneous searches by groups of users can also impact how fast results are served up. When piloting a DITA CCMS, compare the actual search times you see on a daily basis. Even with a large data set, you should get relevant results in fractions of seconds, not fractions of minutes. An accurate search that takes 3 milliseconds is thirty times faster than a search that takes ten seconds– and that difference adds up over time.

We conducted a survey and we found that the average respondent spends four hours a week searching. Annualized, that is five full weeks of employee time spent on search, per employee. If you can save them only one hour per week, you’re freeing up over a week of employee productivity annually. Multiply that by the size of your team (including content managers and reviewers) and the savings will add up fast.

easyDITA Search Speed Metrics Sample

A sample search was run on a set of 260,000 documents (DITA maps) with 9 million DITA elements.

Total search execution time: 288 milliseconds.

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