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Frequently Asked Questions v2


Topic: Search

0. How to refill conditions on searchform?
1. Searchform extensions
2. How to setup searchform?
3. How to display archive (expired items)?
4. Designing nice search results
5. Which parameters can I use with slice.php3

The script fillform.php3 allows to easily refill condition variables as well.

If you have some search form using the conds[] array, you may call fillform.php3?fillConds= 1 to create JavaScript, which will automaticallyrefill the condition input fields. You may use it by SSI, e.g.

<!--#include virtual="/aaa/fillform.php3?form=formname&fillConds=1"-->

Place it after the HTML code for the search form, otherwise it will only make a JavaScript error. Replace "formname " with the name of the form containing input fields.

The script can refill multiple select boxes like
<select name="conds[0][value][]" multiple>
as well. Don't forget the [] after [value].

Don't use quotes around field IDs, otherwise some values will not refill (e.g. checkbox <INPUT TYPE="checkbox" NAME="conds[1][highlighted.....]"> must not be 'highlighted.....').

There are special dateConds[] parameters which I use to refill AA-like dates (three selectboxes for day, month and year), but this is a bit difficult. If you are interested, write me and I will explain.

How to search in multiple slices

The searchform may be extended to seach for items in several slices at once. This is done by adding the slices[] parameter, e.g.

<input type=hidden name="slices[0]" value="517d65d9936c98a1537a5fecbddc7d42"> <!-- news -->
<input type=hidden name="slices[1]" value="849d65d9936c98a1537a5fecbddc7d52"> <!-- events -->

The comments <!-- news --> are useful because you perhaps don't remember, which slice has which id (value="slice_id").

All other settings remain the same as in the usual searchform. The only difficulty is that sometimes the field ids do exist in some slice and do not exist in another one. Than you must rename the fields (menu Slice Admin --- Change field IDs).

To view the items found, you must set the same aliases (Searchform extensions etc.) in all the slices searched through. Each item will be shown using the aliases of the slice to which it belongs.

Tip: If you want to show checkboxes to choose in which slices to search, use something like

<input type=checkbox name="slices[0]" value="517d65d9936c98a1537a5fecbddc7d42" checked> News
<input type=checkbox name="slices[1]" value="849d65d9936c98a1537a5fecbddc7d52" checked> Events

How to search in discussion items

The discussions are not stored in the same database tables as other item content. You may use the conds[discussion][] parameters, e.g.

<input type=hidden name="conds[0][discussion][subject]" value="1">
<input type=hidden name="conds[0][discussion][body]" value="1">

Specify the discussion fields in which to search: you may use this fields --- date, subject, author, e_mail, body, state, flag, url_address,
url_description, remote_addr, free1
or free2. The other fields (conds[0][operator], conds[0][value] etc.) remain the same as usual.

To view the discussion items found include aa/discussion.php3 by SSI. You must pass a view ID of some discussion view to the script, e.g. when the view ID is 22:

<!--#include virtual="/aa/discussion.php3?vid=22"-->

The top HTML code, index view code and bottom HTML code are used to create a listing of the items found, nothing other.

How to use hierarchical constants in searchform

To show hierarchical constants like in the AA control panel Edit item, use the aa/hiercons.php3 script. You must send the following to the script:

The SSI include for a hierarchical constant group "Keywords" may look like

<!--#include virtual="/aa/hiercons.php3?varname=conds[1][value]&param=Keywords:3:60:5:0:1&lang_file=cz_news_lang.php3"-->

Warning: constants in the multiple select box must be selected, otherwise they are not send to the server. Do this by JavaScript.

One benefit: fillform.php3 knows how to refill multiple select boxes as well.

The keywords selected by the user will be joined by OR or AND, that means any keyword or all keywords must be present in an item. You must specify the operator by conds[1][valuejoin], e.g.

<input type=hidden name="conds[1][valuejoin]" value="OR">

Tip: If you want to show a select box to choose whether the keywords should be joined by OR or AND, use something like

<select name="conds[1][valuejoin]">
<option value="OR">Find items with ANY keyword
<option value="AND">Find items with ALL keywords

How to use a multiple select box

If you want the user chooses keywords from a multiple select box, use the similar settings as in hierarchical constants: set the name of the select box to [value][], e.g.

<select name="conds[1][value][]" multiple>

and add the [valuejoin] field (see above).

It is possible to create searchform manually in HTML. There is no possibility to create it automaticaly as it is known from AA v1.2., yet. Special possibilities for searching in multiple slice at once, searching in discussions, choosing keywords from hierarchical constants and using a multiple select box are described at other places in this FAQ.

Form example:

<form action="index.shtml" method="get" name="sf" id="sf">
  Search Author:   <input type="text" name="conds[0][created_by......]"><br>
  Search in Headline and Fulltext:  <input type="text" name="conds[1][value]">
                                    <input type="hidden" name="conds[1][operator]" value="LIKE">
                                    <input type="hidden" name="conds[1][headline........]" value="1">
                                    <input type="hidden" name="conds[1][full_text.......]" value="1">
  <input type="hidden" name="sort[0][headline........]" value="a">
  <input type="submit" value="Search" >
Let's notice:

conds --- simplified syntax

The simplified syntax is <input type="text" name="conds[i][field_id]"> (see conds[0][created_by......] in the example). It is easy and good, if you want to

conds --- extended syntax

The extended syntax sets an [operator], [value] and one or more [field_id] for each condition. See conds[1] in the example.


Contains the search phrase (like conds[1][value]="Prague"). Usually this is the only visible text box (<input type="text" name="conds[1][value]">). The search phrase may be a boolean expression, but you don"t need to think about it if you are using the standard LIKE [operator].

The phrase may contain ANDs, ORs, parenthesis ({[]}) and NOT. When the user gives apple OR cherry, she will get all items containing any or both of the two in any of the fields specified by [field_id] (see further).

Spaces are considered as AND:

Prague Spring becomes Prague AND Spring

With the standard LIKE operator this works fine: it finds all items containing both Prague and Spring at any place (not necessarily Prague space Spring).

Hyphen is considered as AND NOT if not between two letters:

North-West remains as it is, but
North -West
becomes North AND NOT West because of the space on the left of the hyphen

To avoid this behavior, use quotes or single quotes:

"Prague Spring" or "North -West"


If you don't specify it, the default operator is LIKE. You can change the default by using the defaultCondsOperator parameter (e.g. defaultCondsOperator=RLIKE). Other posibilities are:

Operator Description
= equals (or "e:=" with modifiers)
<> not equals
< less than
> more than
<= less or equals
>= more or equals
BETWEEN in interval: the [value] must contain two numerical values, comma separated
LIKE substring search (SQL: LIKE "%phrase%")
RLIKE substring which begins with phrase (SQL: LIKE "phrase%")
LLIKE substring which ends with phrase (SQL: LIKE "%phrase")
XLIKE string (SQL: LIKE "phrase")
ISNULL not set (good for boolean values - like values from checkbox)
NOTNULL is set (the field must be filled - no match for NULL or epmty string '')

date modifiers

Date values are stored in the database as UNIX timestamps (no. of seconds since 1.1.1970). You can use modifiers to convert it from human format. The modificators are written before a comparison operator separated by colon (like "d:>="). The possibilities are:

Operator modificator Example Description
d d:>= Used for english style datum transformation. If used, the "value" can be in format like "06/24/2001" or "10 September 2000" see strtotime PHP function definition
e e:>= Used for european style datum transformation. If used, the "value" can be in format like "24.12.2001"
m m:>= Used for comparison with current time. If used, the "value" is substracted from current time (time()) and result value is used in comparison. The value should be in seconds. This modifier is good for displaying items newer than two days, for example.


Specify the fields to be searched through by their IDs.


Specify the sort order by the sort[] form fields. For example:

<input type="hidden" name="sort[0][headline........]" value="a">
<input type="hidden" name="sort[1][full_text.......]" value="d">

The value is "a" for ascending and "d" for descending order. The items are sorted first by sort[0], second by sort[1] etc.
If no sort[] variable is defined, items are sorted by Publish date - descending.

It is possible to sort items not only by the value, but there is possibility to sort by 'priority' for the fields which uses 'constants' (Slice Admin -> Fields -Edit -> Constants) - like category field:

<input type="hidden" name="sort[0][category........]" value="1">
<input type="hidden" name="sort[1][unspecified.....]" value="9">

The value is "1" for ascending sorting by priority and "9" for descending order.

See another example on the APC Demo Site, where publish date field is used.

Expired items are normaly not visible on the public website. However is it usefull to sometimes show expired items such as for archives.

There are two easy steps to show expired items in a view:

  1. Make sure display of expired items is permitted by setting ALLOW_DISPLAY_EXPIRED_ITEMS constant to true in config.php3
  2. Define a condition where 'expiry_date.....' is specified. You can use a condition fields in a view design or a search condition or a condition in an URL or SSi using cmd[]-c or cmd[]-d see parameters to view.php3

Example of condition fields in a view design:

set Condition 1 'expirary date' < 9999999999999
(this is a unix date in far far far future - you'll be dead :^)

Example of view.php3 parameter:

On you index view...

Include _#ID_COUNT (number of found items) in the Top HTML and _#ITEMINDX (index of item within view) in front of each result item.

Also make sure the HTML code for "No item found" message says something that makes sense for the search type. Use the notshowall=1 [exact code] so blank searches show all items. Include multiple useful sorting options.

The slice.php3 is the main script used to display items from database. The alternative for this script is view.php3. The main ussage of slice.php3 script is to include it into some .shtml file by the SSI include command - like:


The following parameters you can add just like url parameters. It is possible to combine more than one parameter. Example:

The slice.php3 is there from the beginning of ActionApps, so some of the parameters are quite old. Such parameters are still implemented, but in many cases it is better to use newer - more powerfull substitution for the parametr. That's why the list is prioritized from the most common parameters (which should be used) to the old parameters (which use is deprecated).

The only way, how to display data from slices, where 'Reading Password' is set. See: http://apc-aa.sourceforge.net/faq/#slice_pwd
slice_idYesid of displayed slice
conds[]Novery usefull for complex conditions - see How to setup the searchform? for conds parameter setting (it can be used as url parameter too - not only form Forms, as described in search section)
defaultCondsOperatorNoreplaces LIKE for conds with not specified operator - simplified syntax of conds[] uses LIKE operator as default - you can change it by this operator to RLIKE for example (RLIKE is better in many cases - at least it is much faster from database point of view)
Example: defaultCondsOperator=RLIKE&conds[0][category........]=Environment
neverAllItemsNoif set, don't show anything when everything would be shown (if no conds[] are set) - good for search pages, where on the top (or bottom) is searchform - normaly, for the first time (when you did not send the searchform), all items are shown - if you want to have there only blank page intead, use this parameter
sort[]Nosee conds[] - very usefull for complex sorting
(a ...ascending order; d ... descending order)
xNothe same as sh_itm, but short_id is used instead (implemented for shorter item url (see 1767 alias))
iviewNochanges the design of index item listing to the design defined in specified view. The view should be of 'Item listing' type.
Example: iview=49
- listing of items generated by slice.php3 will use format-strings as defined in view No. 49
fviewNochanges the design of fulltext to the design defined in specified view. The view should be of 'Fulltext view' type.
Example: fview=48
- the item displayed by the slice.php3 script will use format-strings as defined in view No. 48
dviewNouses specified view for discussions instead of the one specified on 'Slice Admin' -> 'Design - Fulltext' page. (good for testing new discussion view, ...)
Example: dview=18
- view 18 is used as tepmlate for discussion design in this slice
listlenNochange number of listed items in compact view
Example: listlen=10
Example: slice_pwd=VerySecret
no_scrNoif true, no page scroller is displayed
Example: no_scr=1
group_nNodisplayes only the n-th group (in listings where items are grouped by some field (category, for example)) - good for display all the items of last magazine issue
Example: ( group_n=1 )
slicetextNodisplays just the text instead of any output - can be used for hiding the output of slice.php3
Example: slicetext=%20
highlightNowhen true, shows only highlighted items in compact view
Example: highlight=1
als[alias]Nouser alias definition - you can define your own aliases in url (for both - slice.php3 and view.php3). Aliases names MUST!!! be 8 characters long. Don't forgot, that the alias value have to be urlencoded.
Example: als[MY_ALIAS]=Summary%20Page (or maybe better: als%5BMY_ALIAS%5D=Summary%20Page)
defines alias _#MY_ALIAS. If used in formatstring ('Admin - Design Index' for example), it prints 'Summary Page'
incNofor dispalying another file instead of slice data (for example some static html file)
Example: inc=/contact.html
items[id]Noarray of items to show one after one as fulltext (ids are the long ones - see sh_itm, but there is special 'x' character before each index).
Example: items[x5462876e8ab29ac95462876e8ab29ac9]=1&items[x65ac876e8a555b29543ea76e8ab29a34]=1 (doesn't matter which value is given to element (1 or 'on' or ...) - good for display of the form, where you select which item to show)
hidefulltext=1Noif you add this parameter to url, the fulltext is not shown when you go to page, where the specific item should be displayed. The discussions under the fulltext are not hidden. It is usefull, if you want to show discussions for the item on separate page. On the other hand, probably better results You can get by using fview parameter.
banner=2-38Noby this parameter you are able to display any view (38 in or case) inserted just after the second (2) item in view (number 23). The item shown in inserted view (38) is selected randomly, possibly with weight specified in weight field (number.........1) - just like in random parameter described above. If you do not want use random item (banner), use 'norandom' keyword in place of 'weight field' (good for displaying nested newsbox). See also banner parameter for view.php3. The example of included banner is on http://ecn.cz.
Example: banner=2-38 or banner=2-38-number.........1 or banner=2-38-norandom
nocache=1NoURL parameter for page refresh - the items are not taken from cache (- no matter if allready cached or not). Cache is updated.
searchlogNoif you add searchlog parameter to the slice.php3 script on some search page, all searches (by conds[]) are logged into database table searchlog. There are logged not only the conds[] parameters, but also the time, which database spent on the query. The access to the log is for superadministrators only, right now. You will find it on 'AA' -> 'Misc - View SearchLog' page in AA admin interface (or you can look into searchlog table in the database).
scr_url=script_nameNoscr_url parameter is answer to problem mentioned in apc-aa-general mailinglist (apc-aa-general mailinglist). If you try to include the slice.php3 into your php3 script by calling include("http://www.sitename.org/apc-aa/slice.php3...");, the page scroller do not work, becouse the called script (slice.php3) do not know from which script it was called. But the scroller should know it - scroller should point to the same page - to the calling one. By scr_url parameter you can define the name of calling script.
Example: include("http://www.sitename.org/apc-aa/slice.php3?...&scr_url=%2Fscripts%2Findex.php");
('%2F' stands for ' / ' character).
sh_itmNoid of item to show - if specified, selected item is shown in full text
Example: index.shtml?sh_itm=01ac1b10fae13c0a61c5292ba72d70b1
restrictNofield id used with "res_val" and "exact" for restricted output (display only items with "restrict" field = "res_val"
res_valNosee restrict
exactNoif set, restrict field must match res_val exactly (=) otherwise substring is sufficient (LIKE '%res_val%')
orderNoorder field id - if other than publish date add minus sign for descending order
Example: order=headline........-
timeorderNoif rev - reverse publish date order (less priority than "order")
Example: timeorder=rev
scr_goNosets page scroller to specified page
Example: scr_go=2
encapYes for not encapsulateddetermines wheather this file is SSI included to .shtml file (<--#include virtual="... ) or called directly as slice.php3
cat_idNoselect only items in category with id cat_id
Deprecated - better to use restrict and res_val parameters - or even better conds[] parameter
cat_nameNoselect only items in category with name cat_name as substring
Deprecated - better to use restrict and res_val parameters - or even better conds[] parameter
srchNotrue if this script have to show search results
Not supported from AA v1.5


This FAQ interface was developed by Jason at Commons.ca

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