Productive Searches For Technical Information: Part 1

By Hallett German posted 08-29-2018 08:39 AM



        There has never been a better time to revisit this topic. The original posts may be found at:

Four Keys to Successful APM Searches: Part One 

Four Keys to Successful APM Searches: Part Two 


One of the issues that some Engineers, Partners, and Customers experience is not knowing how to do effective searches. They enter one term after another without success. These articles discuss techniques to yield better results.


What is the goal of a helpful technical knowledge search? 

The desired result is to find a source that is

- trusted

- relevant 

- current 

- appropriate for my situation. (Such as the same operating system, product release etc.)

- contains clear and helpful next steps


Question 1: What is my search strategy? (First Pass.)

 Knowing the results you want to achieve and working backwards can help. For example:


- What are my search constraints (certain time periods, vendors, releases, etc?)

- Is this a general or specific question?

- What are the search repositories best suited for my search? (CA-specific, third-party vendors, general search databases?)

- How many returned articles am I willing to go through?


Question 2: What type of search technical query do I have?


 Just like in a Community, many types of questions are asked, so it is with searches.


 You could require:

- An answer to a general or specific question . (Information Requests). The range of topics could be vast 

    * Error Messages, Starting/Stopping a Component, Log locations, Metric Values and what they mean, and many more

 - Details on one or more tasks. (Such as preparing for or performing an upgrade, system optimization/maintenance.) 

- A broader answer such as backup software and strategies, administration responsibilities, best practices,  and customization approaches.


Knowing the type of query will determine:


-Which sources to search

-How long to search

-Results likely to be returned


Question 3: What is my search strategy? (Deeper Dive.)


So what approaches are best for searches? Here are some to consider:


General>Specific or Specific>General


Each approach has its uses. If completely new to a topic, a general search is a good place to start to get ideas of possible keywords to search for. In some cases, that may be all that is needed. A specific search is good when you already know something on your topic -- Why won't the server component start after an upgrade from release 200.x? Sometimes "backing up" and doing an analogous search may help. (Does this happen with earlier releases and different components? Does it happen during operating or stopping? Is it load related? What is the impact of third-party components on this issue?)




Playing around with the constraints listed above may give you greater insight on what is the optimal search. This can include:

- Data sources used

- Timeframes

- Images, Texts, or Videos returned

- Vendor for operating system , database, etc.

- Release

- Log names

- Error Messages



Search terms, search terms, search terms.
A major reason for not finding information is simply the search terms being used. Some guidelines for successful searches:

- For Java, searching on the error and the troublesome class/method may help 

- Operation being performed  and the components and screens impacted

- Include the component name/version, third-party software version, and APM version. Again try this with one of these factors and then expand to all of them.

- List what is and is not happening. (Such as no reports)


Next time, I will continue on this topic. Until then, happy searching! And please add below your own suggestions!