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Unable to Search Description on Specific Words like Well, Many & Never

Maximo attributes such as the Description field are natively configured to use TEXT search instead of WILDCARD.  A text search will use the database’s text search engine.  This is important because text searches are more efficient due to the database using indexes to locate records.  In addition, a text search is case insensitive so users typically prefer this type of search over WILDCARD.

I recently had an experience where a Maximo environment using a Microsoft SQL Server database was unable to locate item records using the search term ‘WELL PUMP’ on DESCRIPTION.  A search for ‘WELL’, ‘%WELL%’, or ‘WELL PUMP’ brought back zero records.  The pump could only be found by searching for ‘PUMP’.

Since ITEM.DESCRIPTION is a text search enabled attribute, I knew it had to be full text search related. However I was unsure how it was related.  I first rebuilt the text catalog located under Databases > [database_name] > Storage > Full Text Catalogs > [text_catalog_name].

Maximo-Object-Explorer

A rebuild of the catalog had no effect.  I next increased logging on the ITEM object so I could get the exact query Maximo was sending to SQL Server.  This produced the following query:

select *

from item 

where ((status != 'OBSOLETE' and contains(description , 'FORMSOF(INFLECTIONAL,"WELL")') 

and itemsetid = ITEMSET1))

and (itemtype in (select value from synonymdomain where domainid='ITEMTYPE' and maxvalue = 'ITEM'))

Running the above query in SQL Server Management Studio produces zero records.  I was getting closer!

The downside is that there is no shortage of articles on the Web discussing SQL Servers Full Text search capabilities.  I found myself down quite the rabbit hole.  My esteemed coworker, Kelly Nimmo, dropped in to set me down the correct path as she so often does.  She suggested I look into something called a Stop List.

A Stop List in SQL Server is a list of commonly occurring words that SQL Server will discard while searching.  These words are omitted from the full-text index.  A query of the SYS.FULLTEXT_SYSTEM_STOPWORDS table

SELECT * FROM sys.fulltext_system_stopwords where stopword = 'WELL'

for the word ‘WELL’ reveals the following entries:

Search-feature-Stopword

Bingo!  I now had a decision to make.  I could look at removing these entries from the table. Instead, I chose to omit the ITEM table from using the Stop Word list via the following statement:

ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX ON dbo.item SET STOPLIST = OFF

I will roll this out to other tables where WELL may be used to prevent this behavior in the future.

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