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Can I do a text search for "Is Not Blank"

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19 comments

  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    tomrock wrote:
    I'd like to make a smart album of the images that have anything in a particular text field but I can't figure out how to search for "Is not blank".

    I want to find any images that have something in the Description field.

    Is this possible?

    Thanks.

    You should think that "[selected field] "is not equal to" [blank]" would do it, but no. Right away, I would consider this a bug. Any opinions?
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  • SFA
    "Does not Equal" and a space (or a few spaces?) in the value field?
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    SFA wrote:
    "Does not Equal" and a space (or a few spaces?) in the value field?

    This doesn't work either. Also, it ought to include photos with empty fields.
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  • SFA
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    SFA wrote:
    "Does not Equal" and a space (or a few spaces?) in the value field?

    This doesn't work either. Also, it ought to include photos with empty fields.


    Sorry, you're right, wasn't concentrating properly.


    Does Not Equal and nothing entered in the field (no Space character) works for me as a filter using the Content Description text field as an example for finding variants with the Content Description field populated .

    To check the result for Description one can set up the "Content Description" field as a Shown filter that will show all values plus the count of variants with no values entered.


    Grant
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    SFA wrote:
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    SFA wrote:
    "Does not Equal" and a space (or a few spaces?) in the value field?

    This doesn't work either. Also, it ought to include photos with empty fields.


    Sorry, you're right, wasn't concentrating properly.


    Does Not Equal and nothing entered in the field (no Space character) works for me as a filter using the Content Description text field as an example for finding variants with the Content Description field populated .

    To check the result for Description one can set up the "Content Description" field as a Shown filter that will show all values plus the count of variants with no values entered.


    Grant


    I was testing with the Content Description field too. With these settings:

    https://i.imgur.com/JvPuyBU.jpg

    The result includes photos with empty Content Description fields.

    The last part – setting up the Content Description field as a Shown filter – I don't quite understand; how do you do that?
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    This one?

    https://i.imgur.com/iXUaVcO.jpg
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    As you can see here, it includes photos with no description:

    https://i.imgur.com/GtqThij.jpg
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  • SFA
    Might be a Windows vs Mac thing?

    For the question - go to the Filters tool (Library Tab or open a floating tool), click on the "..." icon top line, right. and then clock on "Show/Hide Filters..."

    Click the filter(s) you would like to show. Hide them when finished with them - they can take a lot of screen space if the field has many different values.


    Grant

    ETA.

    OK, I see you have found it.

    Add something in the field in a couple of images (variants) and you should see the result change.
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    SFA wrote:
    Might be a Windows vs Mac thing?

    For the question - go to the Filters tool (Library Tab or open a floating tool), click on the "..." icon top line, right. and then clock on "Show/Hide Filters..."

    Click the filter(s) you would like to show. Hide them when finished with them - they can take a lot of screen space if the field has many different values.


    Grant

    ETA.

    OK, I see you have found it.

    Add something in the field in a couple of images (variants) and you should see the result change.

    The filter function works fine, but the smart folder still includes variants with no content description.

    This is on Mac, by the way.
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  • Tom Rockwell
    Thanks for all the replies.

    The filter at the bottom of the folders list works but it shows each image that has a description. I'd like to be able to see a collection of all the images that have any description whatsoever. That's very clear to me.

    I thought there might be some hidden attribute I could search for -- something like #blank#. If there is, I can't find it.

    What I've been doing is I put an omega character (Option+z on the Mac) at the beginning of the description and I search for that.

    That's work as long as I remember to put the character there but it's a workaround.

    Thanks again.
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    tomrock wrote:
    I thought there might be some hidden attribute I could search for -- something like #blank#. If there is, I can't find it.

    As far as I can see, it isn't possible to use regular expressions or anything similar for smart folder settings. It would have been useful.
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  • SFA
    I'm on Windows.

    One variant has text in the field (out of 275 variants counted in the folder of the session).

    1 variant displayed.

    "Contains" will work as well provided there is a character or string that is common to all entries somewhere in the field. A hard "space" would be a character in that situation.


    Grant


    ETA. IN the list in the filter tool you can select multiple result/count lines to see the results from multiple entries. CTRL and click the radio button if in Windows. Command on Mac?

    If you ave an advanced search window open at the time you should see the Filters area of the Window being populated (or de-populated) with the filters as you click to set on or off.


    Grant
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  • SFA
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    tomrock wrote:
    I thought there might be some hidden attribute I could search for -- something like #blank#. If there is, I can't find it.

    As far as I can see, it isn't possible to use regular expressions or anything similar for smart folder settings. It would have been useful.


    Regex, for those that know it and understand the subtly different implementations that are in use, might be nice but I think that potential users, in Capture One world, might be a very small minority and usage rather rare.
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    SFA wrote:
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    tomrock wrote:
    I thought there might be some hidden attribute I could search for -- something like #blank#. If there is, I can't find it.

    As far as I can see, it isn't possible to use regular expressions or anything similar for smart folder settings. It would have been useful.


    Regex, for those that know it and understand the subtly different implementations that are in use, might be nice but I think that potential users, in Capture One world, might be a very small minority and usage rather rare.

    Regular expressions are used in many kinds applications; I shouldn't think that Capture One users would be less familiar with them than other software users.
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  • SFA
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    SFA wrote:


    Regex, for those that know it and understand the subtly different implementations that are in use, might be nice but I think that potential users, in Capture One world, might be a very small minority and usage rather rare.

    Regular expressions are used in many kinds applications; I shouldn't think that Capture One users would be less familiar with them than other software users.


    It sounds like you are quite familiar with REGEX Thomas.

    I do not know with any degree of certainty but think it is probable that relatively few C1 users are familiar with REGEX - perhaps especially those who benefit from hand-holding quite frequently.

    I work with a business analytical system that introduced REGEX about 4 maybe 5 years ago. Despite some quite comprehensive existing facilities some influential people at one or two major clients persuaded then to do the work and include REGEX abilities

    Judging by observations in their forum and comments from a few staffers I know there were a few experienced users of the application who decided they ought to find out what REGEX was and a couple of younger members of the forum who had previous exposure to the use of REGEX and that was about it.

    An experienced colleague of mine who at the time was responsible for about 100 users of the application working in a large organisation full of very smart people argued against its inclusion offering the right sort of benefits to typical users on the basis that none of his users currently used REGEX in any form nor understood what it was. He suggested that, in its raw form, it would most likely cause more support issues (or just unrecognised errors) from users who might try to use it occasionally and would therefore not be beneficial. He felt there should be better option offered for a product that was not intended to be something that required an IT support operation of skill in order for it to be successfully deployed.

    I think he had a point.

    The front end of a search engine in a product aimed at the general public is not really the place to expect users to have familiarity with REGEX in order to be able to find a couple of photos.

    For example for the original search requested in this thread the chances are that most people's use would involve words that, in English, would contain at least one of the letters a,e,i,o,u and possibly a space.

    So a saved preset search that was defined as

    Content Description > contains > a
    Content Description > contains > e
    Content Description > contains > i
    Content Description > contains > o
    Content Description > contains > u

    and another entry for "space"

    using a Match set to "ANY"

    would be expected to find all images with text in the Content Description field.

    I feel fairly certain that similar approaches could be taken for the other supported languages.

    What are your thoughts?
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    SFA wrote:
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    SFA wrote:


    Regex, for those that know it and understand the subtly different implementations that are in use, might be nice but I think that potential users, in Capture One world, might be a very small minority and usage rather rare.

    Regular expressions are used in many kinds applications; I shouldn't think that Capture One users would be less familiar with them than other software users.


    It sounds like you are quite familiar with REGEX Thomas.

    I do not know with any degree of certainty but think it is probable that relatively few C1 users are familiar with REGEX - perhaps especially those who benefit from hand-holding quite frequently.

    I work with a business analytical system that introduced REGEX about 4 maybe 5 years ago. Despite some quite comprehensive existing facilities some influential people at one or two major clients persuaded then to do the work and include REGEX abilities

    Judging by observations in their forum and comments from a few staffers I know there were a few experienced users of the application who decided they ought to find out what REGEX was and a couple of younger members of the forum who had previous exposure to the use of REGEX and that was about it.

    An experienced colleague of mine who at the time was responsible for about 100 users of the application working in a large organisation full of very smart people argued against its inclusion offering the right sort of benefits to typical users on the basis that none of his users currently used REGEX in any form nor understood what it was. He suggested that, in its raw form, it would most likely cause more support issues (or just unrecognised errors) from users who might try to use it occasionally and would therefore not be beneficial. He felt there should be better option offered for a product that was not intended to be something that required an IT support operation of skill in order for it to be successfully deployed.

    I think he had a point.

    The front end of a search engine in a product aimed at the general public is not really the place to expect users to have familiarity with REGEX in order to be able to find a couple of photos.

    For example for the original search requested in this thread the chances are that most people's use would involve words that, in English, would contain at least one of the letters a,e,i,o,u and possibly a space.

    So a saved preset search that was defined as

    Content Description > contains > a
    Content Description > contains > e
    Content Description > contains > i
    Content Description > contains > o
    Content Description > contains > u

    and another entry for "space"

    using a Match set to "ANY"

    would be expected to find all images with text in the Content Description field.

    I feel fairly certain that similar approaches could be taken for the other supported languages.

    What are your thoughts?

    Perhaps it would only be beneficial to a small part of users, I don't know. You don't need to have a complete grasp of it though – I, for one, don't – simple expressions can also be useful.
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  • OddS.
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    I shouldn't think that Capture One users would be less familiar with them than other software users.


    I, for one, have used regexps regularly since the seventies, and I know them quite well. Jeffrey Friedl authored the better book "Mastering Regular Expressions" in the mid nineties. He also deserves mentioning for his long time contributions of an unknown number of photographer's utilities, often as add-ons/plugins to Lightroom. He has a web site and blog...

    I never saw the SQL standard(s) include regexps, but I think some relational database systems include ways to get regexp functionality. SQLite, the C1 database system, does not include regexps, but SQLite can register external (system) functions for use in queries. Similar to, but not the same as SQL's stored procedures. An external function could probably offer regular expressions with SQLite (I never tried, I do regexps in script code).

    However; SQL has the notion of NULL meaning "empty" or "nothing". My guess is that search criteria "WHERE column IS NULL" and "WHERE column IS NOT NULL" are among the most frequently used expressions in the world of SQL. If C1 does not allow search criteria "IS NULL" and "IS NOT NULL", it is certainly not a limitation imposed by SQLite.
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  • Thomas Kyhn
    Top Commenter
    OddS wrote:
    thomaskyhn wrote:
    I shouldn't think that Capture One users would be less familiar with them than other software users.


    I, for one, have used regexps regularly since the seventies, and I know them quite well. Jeffrey Friedl authored the better book "Mastering Regular Expressions" in the mid nineties. He also deserves mentioning for his long time contributions of an unknown number of photographer's utilities, often as add-ons/plugins to Lightroom. He has a web site and blog...

    I never saw the SQL standard(s) include regexps, but I think some relational database systems include ways to get regexp functionality. SQLite, the C1 database system, does not include regexps, but SQLite can register external (system) functions for use in queries. Similar to, but not the same as SQL's stored procedures. An external function could probably offer regular expressions with SQLite (I never tried, I do regexps in script code).

    However; SQL has the notion of NULL meaning "empty" or "nothing". My guess is that search criteria "WHERE column IS NULL" and "WHERE column IS NOT NULL" are among the most frequently used expressions in the world of SQL. If C1 does not allow search criteria "IS NULL" and "IS NOT NULL", it is certainly not a limitation imposed by SQLite.


    Thanks for the Jeffrey Friedl reference; I wasn't aware of him.
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  • SFA
    OddS,

    The business oriented software I use is based on SQL driven databases at desktop and server level. To introduce REGEX capabilities they seem to have bolted in a utility of some sort that provides the sort of functionality you mention. REGEX is not a wheel that anyone really wants to re-invent. I think they had enough of that when they decided to build in a data extraction function for the text contents of PDF files.

    Something they thought would take a few days - a couple of weeks at the most - turned into a saga fit for a Norse legend.

    However the two most evident basic functions of their application are ETL projects and multi-source data analysis and reporting. There is more but those are core.

    The NULL concept is an absolute requirement where one cannot be sure that a controlled database (where a bad value is absolutely NOT an option especially for numeric field, dates and and data files that must contain a value to be used reliable - like table driven codes) and the data form some external source will always be well aligned and correctly populated.

    For optional text based comments fields there requirement is not so strong. In fact one could argue that to enforce NULL or not NULL in a field that would be perfectly acceptable for typical use as a blank field could be wrong in any situation other than ETL type activities.

    Then there is the question about how many of the application users are what we might refer to as IT professionals at some level.

    The application I am referring to is very much focused on empowering non technical people sitting at admin desks working with business processes that they knew to become departmental analysts in their own right without being exposed to the tech language of an IT role.

    This works well for anyone with at least a little inclination towards the idea. Complex comparisons and selections, as can be derived via REGEX, are possible using careful constructions of individual searches - just as in C1.

    As the product grew into large organisations and developed an increasing server based user base run mainly by IT pros the large spends of those organisations and the influence of the primarily IT buyers they employed led to requests for more complex solutions (especially of the type that require IT Professionals to understand, create and deploy for others!) and rather than build them in house it was decided to implement the REGEX engine option and see how that worked out for the Office Desktop user as well as the IT Pro departments.

    As an aside, while all of that was going on along with a stack of other developments in the business, the prices increased significantly and they converted to a subscription pricing model. That seemed to change their traditional customer mix and so in turn changed the type of use input in terms of suggestions for enhancements for the product.

    But I digress.

    The point is that I don't really think that a Photo editing program has (or should have) the sort of problems that the NULL concept sets out to assist with. (Data field population checks and preventing erroneous values in calculated fields, mainly)

    It may be that these days most of the world's population knows about NULL values and what they are for but I doubt it.

    As for people using RAW converters ... people with an IT background may be well represented in the C1 user base and so the understanding of NULL may be higher than in the general population but I doubt the developers could assume that was a strong enough case to NOT provide a non-REGEX approach.

    If one considers adding the REGEX functionality in addition to the 'normal' functions then there are development and continuing support costs (and possibly license fees?) to consider for something that, in the context of the product, is of somewhat limited use and hardly critical to the product's function and revenue generation ability. One can make at least a reasonable case for the functionality in a modern ETL system.


    NOTE: For anyone reading this who is not familiar with the acronym ETL it stands for Extract, Transform and Load. Basically a process that take data from one or more sources, modifies of combines that data and presents it for loading into another system. There are variation on that theme. ETR for example may be referred to for Extract, Transform and Report. Much the same thing, different destination and output format. (Also, since we are in a Photography centric forum, nothing at all to do with ETTR or ETTL in photographic parlance! 😉 )
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