Mining Your Database: Find Exactly What You’re Searching For


Hosted databases
can be a powerful tool for businesses to manage everything from customer contact information to product details and sales records. However, it doesn’t do much good to store information if you can’t access it easily.
Trackvia recently announced improvements to its search capabilities, adding search-engine style commands to let users drill down to specific information without having to weed through as many irrelevant results. You can now search your own database the way you search the internet (or better, depending on how many of these tricks you already know):

  • Phrases: Quotation marks, as in “New York” instead of New York, indicate that the terms must appear together.
  • Exact match: An equal sign, as in =Rob instead of Rob, will only return records with an exact match (i.e. Rob, but not Robert).
  • Negative match: A minus sign, as in white sox -red, means a term (i.e. red) must not appear in a record.
  • Dates: You can now search date and time fields with expressions like Oct 23, 2007 or simply February.
  • Empty fields: Searching on (none) will return records with blank fields.
  • Specific fields: Putting a field name before a term, as in first_name:Wilson, limits the search for that term to that one field.

You can also combine the above tricks to create powerful ad-hoc queries. For example, searching your food database for type=dessert apple -pie would return (presumably) apple cobbler, apple cake, and apple tarts. Here at TrackVia, we can compare the growth of our business this year versus last by doing two quick searches on our customer database – purchased:“June 2007” and purchased:“June 2008” – and comparing the number of results.

This latest version
also searches notes, comments, and attachment names in the History section of each record, which lets you search the conversations around data records in addition to the records themselves.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor,
photo: alarch