Under review
Dan C 3 years ago • updated by Sujato Bhikkhu 3 years ago 11
Hi, I just tried out the search feature. I was looking for examples of a pali word I was curious about and it worked great! However, I have some suggestions for improvement.

First. On the search results page, is it possible to show ALL results and divide it into pages like google? I searched for a fairly common word and it seems to have a max of 15 results. Would also be nice to have some options for number of results per page (eg. 10, 50, 100).

Second. Could you order the results by their appearance in the Tripitaka? If you search for appamada, for example, there are results from AN and SN mixed together and numerically out of order.

Third. When you type in a word into the search field in the top right corner of the page, it instantaneously starts to show results in an overlay. It might be helpful to have an indication there of how many total results there are such as "showing partial results of X total."

Four. This is more of a nice to have. In the search results page, could you show the word and a small amount of the surrounding text for each result? Two reasons: 1) when searching through results from the SN this would make it easier to skim over repetitive uses of the word. 2) I may want to find the word used in certain combinations or contexts. And many words have multiple uses (dhamma, sankhara).

And just so you know where these requests are coming from, I'm planning to use this to find examples of pali words in context so I can better understand their meaning. I'm currently working through a pali primer by venerable Narada.

Thanks for the hard work!
Dear Dan,

Search is due for an overall and some of your points will be taken into consideration, but I think you'll find that most of them are already implemented, just a little bit non-obvious, if you search for a word, say 'ananda', then you'll see a line saying
'Text Search: en: 93 | pi: 252 | vn: 139'

Click on pi, and you'll get the kind of results you are looking for, with snippets, if you want to get all the results on one page you can change the url, where it says 'limit=25' change 25 to 1000 or something - it doesn't hurt the server to deliver so many results at once.

For certain search tasks you will be better served by the Digital Pali Reader plugin for Firefox, this provides excellent results arranged in 'tipitaka order'. In fact Digital Pali Reader is so good for many kinds of tasks working with pali, that I am loathe to try and replicate it's functionality on Sutta Central. DPR is extremely mechanical in it's operation and not very bright. For SuttaCentral we are more aiming at something like Google, magically returning what you are probably most interested in.

A proper 'unified search' is in the pipeline, that is, google style results which mixes everything together. We are currently planning localized versions of sutta central, and search will be localized also. It may be that we'll have the main, non-localized site, focus on the root texts (i.e. pali) with a clear link 'Show english results?' redirecting to the localized results.

Our dev team is not very big, at the moment it is mainly me doing all the heavy lifting. So these things will take time to come about. Suggestions are welcome.

With Metta,
Bhante Nandiya.
Dear Nandiya,

Since SuttaCentral was updated, the search results of instant drop-down are delayed for 5 seconds. Before the update it was usually instantaneous. Is this a bug? or did this change have a purpose?

Thank you for your work. It's the most efficient & comprehensive sutta resource at the moment.

With Metta,
I am unable to reproduce this problem, the popup appears at the speed-of-internet for me. What browser are you using?
Under review
I also have no problems with the search.
Firefox 28.0

Strange, as I recall, I didn't alter anything in the browser recently. Don't know what's wrong then. Maybe I'll try and reinstall the browser later.

Thank you for the reply!
Just letting you know something strange happened again. I didn't reinstall the browser or alter anything and today the delay is gone. Don't know what changed.

I wish you well.
Okay, well, let us know it it recurs. Most likely I would imagine an issue with the browser cache, or some transient bug in our code. 
Dear Dan,
I don't know your plan, but just know that I have a lot of material to study pāli. If you want to, I can send you some dictionaries, pāli readers... well, it's up to you.
I saw those little en and pi buttons the next day and it turns out they were exactly what I was asking for. I wondered for a split second "did they put it in already??"

it seems to work fine for what I'm doing. I can search for words or groups of words, sift through results, and dive in where it's appropriate.

nice work handling this all yourself. I used to do software for a living so its exciting to see monks with some programming chops :)
Hey Ludo,
thanks for the offer. I'm currently working through a book with graduated exercises on the different parts of the pali grammar. Have you done something similar?

to be honest I wish there was a place I could ask questions to someone more experienced. Like a forum or email tutor. I started pronouns and am finding the complexity just sky rocketed. Nandiya, would you happen to know of any such resource?
Hey Dan,

Are you talking about "An Elementary Pāli Course" from Nārada Thera? Personally, I started with "Pāli Primer". But I think both are all right.

You might want to have a look on "Pāli Buddhist Texts" -- Rune E.A Johansson. And "Pāli made easy". These two books can give you a good hand, too. (I can send them to you, if you want.) 

Then, if you want to study more, to go further, there is "Introduction to Pāli" -- A.K Warder. The key answers, written by Ajahn Brahmali, can be found on internet. (I can send it to you)
After that, there is "A New Course in Reading Pāli". You can get the key answers on the website of Bhikkhu Bodhi. (I can send it to you.) 

There is also "A Pāli reader" -- Glenn Wallis, "The Higher Pāli Course for Advance Students" and "Aids to Pāli conversation and translation"-- Buddhatta Thera.

If you live not too far away from Bodhinyana monastery in Perth, you may ask Ajahn Brahmali for help. Otherwise, I can give you a hand, if you want to. (ludobubner@gmail.com)

As for dictionaries, the best is : http://www.palidictionary.appspot.com
And English-Pāli : http://m.tamilcube.com/dictionary/pali/
Otherwise, I can send you "Pāli-English dictionary" -- Buddhadatta. 

Studying pāli takes time. I don't know what your intention is. Expect around three years of daily study if you intend to become fluent. I can assure you that reading the words of Buddha in pāli is worth it. It gives you a total different perception of the teaching the Buddha. And above all, it's a great combination with the practice of meditation.