Introducing Electra Symbol Search

Barely 30 days has passed since we released Electra E7, our brand new electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic CAD software and boy, have we got an update for you. The inspiration came from Eric at Double L who complains that Visio’s default shape search is unwieldy to say the least, as you would need to enable Windows Indexing Service and searches only the symbol name or prompt, and only on local drives, and not network drives. Can we do something to search these symbols correctly?, he asked. Errr…. we’ll try.

How to use Electra symbol search.

With this update (R101), when you open a new electra drawing, you will see a symbol search icon as shown below:

Electra symbol search icon

NOTE: If you are opening an older drawing, you will NOT be able to see this icon, until you have saved and re-open the same drawing.

Once clicked on symbol search, the search dialog will pop up as shown below:

Electra symbol search dialog

You can select to place search results in as many new stencils as required, which means you do not have to search repeatedly for the same thing. You can also save these stencils, so that you can work and organize your symbols the way you want, without the need for repeated searches even across projects.

How it works.

  1. Electra symbol search works on open stencils only, primarily because of speed considerations. Which means, if you want Electra to search your stencils, you must have it opened on your current drawing. You may need certain stencils on one project and other stencils on another, and since Electra only search open stencils, it will therefore only return symbols that you are currently interested in, and ignore the rest.
  2. All open stencils will be searched, irrespective of stencil file locations, be it on a local drive or a network folder that you have shared with your colleagues.
  3. Before searching for your symbols, Electra scans all open stencils and place search data into a database called “Search.accdb” that’s placed on the same folder as Electra6.mdb, your main component database, wherever you have set your database to be.

    How Electra symbol search works

  4. Each stencil’s last edited timestamp will be checked so that only recently updated stencils get scanned, while previously scanned stencils will be skipped. This ensures that Electra symbol search is really fast and speedy.
  5. Because the search database is placed on the same folder as your main Electra database folder, if you have set up a network folder to share databases, symbols and templates with your colleagues, this means even faster symbol searching as an update to the search database by one user, will mean an update for all users, without the need for re-scanning.
  6. For each keyword you search for, Electra will attempt to find the keyword in the following fields:
    • Master Name, Master Prompt, Master Keyword, Symbol Name, Symbol Reference, Symbol Description

    Electra symbol search fields

  7. The fields above are way beyond what Visio is capable of searching, and hopefully should serve our Electra users far better.

How to customize Electra symbol search.

If you wanted to mark certain symbols with your own keywords for faster searching, simply enter them in “Master Keyword” as follows:

  1. Right click on your stencil and select “Edit Stencil”.
  2. Right click on the symbol you wanted to modify and select “Edit Master”, then “Master Properties”.
  3. Simply key in your custom keywords and click OK.

    Customize Electra symbol search through keywords

How to maintain your search database.

As time progress, your search database will be filled up with stencil data. Some of these stencils may be deprecated and no longer used. To clean up and clear your search database:

  1. Click on Electra tab | Document Options | Miscellaneous | Clear search database.

Final words.

The entire process is pretty fast, and searches more extensively than normal Visio would, so please do give it a try and let us know if you have any comments or feedback. Thanks, Eric.

Prepared and proudly coded by Chan Pooi Kuan.

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