At Bing, we never stop exploring ways to improve the search experience. Whether it’s making small adjustments to how we present results or major changes to the user interface, we’re always looking at new approaches to help you get more done.
Over the last one year, we have been working hard to develop a more natural way for users to address technical queries. It could be someone looking to download or troubleshoot software or a programmer who wants to get the technical details of an API. In all cases, we have been making strides to make technical searches easier.
Let’s take a look at some of the common technical tasks.
Making Code Search & API reference easier on Bing
One of the common tasks in a programmer’s life is learning about new APIs. The best way to learn about an API is to see a description and an example of how it is being used. More importantly, seeing the actual code is critical for programmers. In many cases, this information is buried in the API documentation requiring additional steps.
Here is how we have streamlined API and code search reference queries.
In the above example a programmer queried for List.Sort method. As you can see without even going into the MSDN page, user can know about the use this method, can even copy paste the code and start using it.
The above experience is helpful because it provides relevant information directly in the search results page itself letting programmers spend more time coding and less time searching.
Bing Understands developer queries containing non-alphanumeric characters
Technical developer queries often contain non-alphanumeric characters like :: (scope), ++ (operators), () (function), etc. Such queries are notoriously difficult for a search engine to handle.
Bing has given special treatment to such technical queries, so that the context is preserved and we show relevant results on top. The screenshots below demonstrate how we disambiguate here:
Making software download safe and easier on Bing
As we know, people rely on search engines to find the right application to suits their needs. Based on how people search, we are able to ascertain the top factors that people associate with software queries.
- Cost: Free or paid?
- Download Site: Official or verified site to download
- Reviews : Rating of the software
- Related: Are there any similar products which might be better?
- Safety: Risk of malicious software
Based on these factors we developed the following experience:
In the example above, we were searching for “Audacity” which is a sound recording and editing tool. As you can see, the entity pane provides pertinent information like:
- Quick description about the product including the official logo.
- Cost information is provided right at the top
- Official as well as trusted download locations are provided
- Reviews from different sources are aggregated and shown. Individual reviews links are also provided.
The above experience helps people discover pertinent information at a glance. Now people can easily find the right software directly from the authoritative source without having to take additional steps.
Getting information about Microsoft Technologies is just a click away
To help people find information about Microsoft technologies more quickly we have rolled out instant answers at the top of the results page. For instance, Cortana was released on Windows phone last month. If you search on Bing, we will provide relevant information and answers to common questions at the top of the page:
- What is Cortana?
- Is Cortana on?
- What I can speak?
In the example below user wants to know more about for “Cortana”, the instant answer pops with the top requirements displayed right on the results page. User was given information that Cortana can understand natural language commands and given some examples to try.
Over the past few years we have worked hard to make it easier to find and take action with technical content and we’re confident that you won’t find these capabilities on any other search engine, so give it a try.
If there are areas where you think we could do better, please let us know on Twitter @Bing.
- Shabbar Husain, Senior Program Manager, Bing Tech Team