Launched: Searching for docs in Coda just got easier!

We’re always looking for ways to make it easy for you to find what you need on Coda. Previously, when you searched across all docs it wouldn’t match content inside tables, which might have made it hard to find the specific information you were looking for. In fact, this was one of the top feature requests we heard in 2023.

Now, when you search for a term in Coda, we will also scan the content within tables. This means you can quickly find what you’re looking for, even if you don’t where the search term appears – in the doc, page or a table.

NEW search doc list for table results

If you have synced emails, tickets or other data from tools like Gmail, Jira, Salesforce using one of the 500+ Packs that Coda supports, you can now search across all of that content as well. You can also use the new Packs filter to refine search results to synced content from specific Packs.

For example, if you’re using the Jira Pack to sync issues into to Coda, you can now search for specific issues by their title or description, right from the Coda search bar.

No more switching between tools or exporting data to search for what you need—now you can do it all from the Coda search bar.

This enhancement will be especially useful for teams that rely on tables to organize and store important information. With this new search feature, you can quickly locate the doc you need by searching for the content you’re looking for, rather than having to remember a specific doc title.

To try out this new feature, simply go to the search bar in your Coda workspace and enter your search terms as usual. Coda search will take care of the rest, scanning the content in your docs and tables to find the best matches. If you’re already in a doc, and want to find content across all the docs in your workspace, you can type a search term in the in-doc search bar, and click on the ‘All docs’ tab to try out the enhanced search experience.

We hope this makes it even easier for you to find what you need, get organized and be productive on Coda. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for how we can continue to improve your experience.

Happy searching!

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What an awesome news, I did not see this coming and you did it again Coda.

Let’s start to search :mag::mag_right: and find the :gem:

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Welcome to the the Coda Makers community @Andrew_Hsu :innocent:

This is a great opportunity to to thank for the this :gem: and masterpiece of engineering

Keep up the the impressive work and hopefully it will be expanded even with more functionality to support the Makers at Coda :lock:

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Great news!

Now you just need to implement search in-doc for comments. For now, there is no way to search on comments.

Also, I would love to have a Search on comments right at the comments list.

I mentioned all that here just yesterday:

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Hello @Andrew_Hsu ,

Congratultions, it is amazing how we can retrieve info from our documents that would otherwise be very hard to find.

That said, the user does not always benefit from finding everything. The following applies to the search box in the document and in the search box in the user workspace: the search finds way to much. I have done extensive testing and searching for very specific items works like a charm: you can pinpoint the document where the term resides in a hurry - and you can nail down the table or page real easy.

But, a lot of search terms (like on a persons’s first name) might generate 100’s of hits. Not all documents benefit from these type of searches. If you have a to do list with hundreds of (finished) items, some searches result in many non-relevant hits.

And this is a very simple example, which just gives annoying results. There are more complicated examples where setup tables are exposed that may be accidentially altered.

We really need a couple of per document settings to:

  1. exclude a document completely from search (from the workspace AND from within the document)
  2. or, exclude hidden pages and filtered data from the search

At this point in time, the search capabilities, as usueful as they can be at times, completely ruin alle the workflows in the docs I have shared with my team. The searchboxes are unavoidable and sooner or later my users end up at places in my document (pages, tables of table rows) that shows information that is confusing, not relevant, out of contexts, etc. etc.

Before adding more of these type of features, would you please consider all the work and effort your long-time loyal users have put into building beautiful shared documents.

Is it really too much asked to give us a couple of options so we can have some choice in what is best for our documents and our users?

Greetings, Joost

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Exactly my thoughts! Couldn’t said it better @joost_mineur . This whole thing with search is getting out of hand really quickly…it’s basically ruining many docs and use cases we were using for years…

Hopefully this time we get some resanoable official response or clarification and some ideas for fixing this problem unlike in this topic https://community.coda.io/t/search-unfortunately-reveals-all-hidden-pages-all-hidden-data/ where many people have already talked about problem they had with search even before this update, but Coda just ignored it and went with making things even worse…

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yes. search is good but NOT when it lands users in pages or tables they should not be in.

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Hi, I’m Ben an engineer at Coda working on search with Andrew. Already some great feedback here, thanks for taking the time to express them. I hope can help address some of your questions and concerns at least as they pertain to search.

Broadly speaking, the ability to globally search table contents is something we hear frequently from many of our enterprise customers. As Andrew called out in the initial post, it’s in large part due to this feedback that we decided to take this effort on. It’s great to hear that this works anecdotally for specific queries. At the same time, totally empathize that with more data the challenge to rank and surface the relevant content becomes more complicated, and having richer search UX to filter results is an important part of the picture for users to be long-term successful with search. We are definitely invested in continuing to iterate on feedback as a team. For example, we introduced search filters in the last year to search all docs. I think the suggestion to extend this to allow doc-level “in” filter is a great idea. More generally bridging the gap to allow more of these filters and/or further unify the search experience sub-doc as well feel like valuable directions to explore.

A few notes on ranking specifically - with the addition of table content we tried to strike a balance in terms of still preferring doc and page results in a way that matches the previous experience, before table content was introduced, while also prioritizing table results when a table match is particularly strong (or the only type of result) vs. other types of search hits. That said, we frequently run ranking experiments to try to improve on this, and the team also looks at all feedback that customers give via the search feedback widget. If you have feedback for search patterns that work well or don’t go well, please continue to write in with these as they are helpful and looked at by the team!

On the question of hidden pages, I think there is a larger discussion around how to best architect docs with the security vs. locking/hiding features Coda offers, but to try to answer the search aspect of this specifically, generally our strategy is to deprioritize “hidden” content vs. other content. In other words, the intent is for hidden content to show up last, e.g. only if there are no other results that match. Understand this doesn’t fit in all cases, and the idea to add an explicit “hidden” filter is compelling as well; we’ll track this among the set of features to consider with the team. For tables and rows we’re particularly curious how this will shake out and it’s perhaps more complicated as views of the same data can appear across pages with different visibility. This would be another area we’d love feedback on - e.g. how often users come across data in a hidden admin/database page, and in this case if it’s more helpful vs. confusing when this happens.

Hope that helps, and thanks again.

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Great feedback Caetano - we’ve heard this one a few times as well and is a feature request the team is tracking. Thanks much!

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Hello @Ben_Lieber1 ,

There are so many user scenarios… I really think the algoritms do a good job, the filtering of search results can really help to. But please understand that in many cases we don’t want our users to have to deal with setting filters - which is not always an easy task anyway. We have so many controls available, that I think many docs do fine without any global or general search. Great feature if a maker wants it to be available, but just as great if it can be turned off.

Let me give you a small example where searching brings our users to the wrong place.

An empolyee table lists about 100 people. One of the (relation) columns allows for saving the brandneme of the car this persons drives. The choices are a lookup from a ‘hidden’ table listing all the brandnames, like Ford, GMS, Chevrolet, Hyunday, Honda, Toyota, etc.

When searching for Ford, among other things, the rows of employees who drive a Ford will show up. Now say someone searches for Jaguar, it is in the brandname list, but no person drives a Jaguar. The search results will show the brandnames row with Jaguar, and upon following that find, this persons ends up in a modal from the brandnames table.

The table is not secret, so it’s not the worst scenario, but the table is not meant to be used that way by an avarage user, it is only to be used by admins (makers).

This is a very simple example - in real life things are a lot more complicated and can lead to corrupted data. I know there are many other ways to get into lookup tables, but they are not as obvious (and I hope that will be addressed someday when tables that reside on hidden pages are out of reach too).

Along the same line of thought, a lot of us makers want to get rid of the table reference at the top left of a modal (and instead, have either nothing at that place, or a return button (return to wherever you came from).

Please feel free to contact me for perhaps a video call in which I can demonstrate the things we have to deal with when sharing our document with ‘regular’ users.

Greetings, Joost

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Thank you for those detailed examples. I’ve shared with our team as we continue to reference community feedback and ideas when exploring options or making decisions.

If folks have other examples, please sound off in the replies, or send feedback in any time while in Coda via the ? at the bottom right.

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Hello @Ben_Lieber1

I applaud your efforts to give us better Search capability, but only if we can hide or turn off the Search bar. With all due respect, you guys seem to have forgotten that there are whole swathes of the data world, where things are confidential.

In my coda apps, for example, there is a table called Document Inventory, which lists all the documents we have uncovered in an investigation. Not evetyone has access to these items: there mere fact that a document exists is confidential; the fact that we have it is confidential, and what it says is confidential - or as the lawyers say “Privileged”.

Another example is in the financial world. The fact that a client has an account at a brokerage house is confidential. What is happening in that account is confidential and requires a subpoens to reveal.

Or in the corporate world: the other day someone on here wanted to produce a table of projects, the people working on them, and those people’s supervisors. Fine; very innocent. But many corporations go to great efforts for security reasons to keep their chain of command and organization chart confidential. Or another example: I believe a major international newspapaer is a Coda user. Are you tellung me that a wander through the Search bar would reveal a reporter’s sources and methods and memos?

I see this Search effort as being like the Sorcerers Apprentice sequence in the Walt Disney cartoon, “Fantasia” where sorcerer apprentice Mickey Mouse decides to use magic to perform his chores, but then he doesn’t know how to turn the magic off!

Please give us the ablity to turn off or hide the Search bar.

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