We have made every effort to make the use of the site as easy, intuitive and functional as possible.
Once you are at the search page, it is very easy to search the gazette database by entering the words you want to search for and clicking submit, For example type "προσφορες" (without the quotes), and click the "Submit" button. A table of results will be displayed below. Each row in the table represents a page of the gazette. You can see this page by clicking on the page number.
You can search for multiple words, say "προσφορες υπολογιστες". This will find all the pages which contain both words, and it is quite handy when you wish to narrow your search.
The search engine is quite flexible and provides a lot of options to make your searches more effective. One important feature is that you can specify expressions in your search. The search "προσφορες υπολογιστες" is actually equivalent to "προσφορες and υπολογιστες". You could write "προσφορες or υπολογιστες" in which case you would be looking for all pages which contain either "προσφορες" or "υπολογιστες" or both.
If you want to search for pages which contain "υπολογιστες" but not "προσφορες" then you can enter "προσφορες and (not υπολογιστες)"
In greek, much more than in English, there are different forms of a word (different cases, plural etc.). You can use the like keyword in front of a search word and the system will try to find all the occurences of the word. For example, if you enter "like προσφορα" the system will find "προσφορες" "προσφοροδοτης", "προσφορας", "προσφορων", and so on. This is done using what is called a soundex encoding of the words. Soundex encoding is quite an old algorithm dating back to the days before computer databases. In English it is a well established method for doing similarity searches but we couldn't find any work on it that adapts it to the Greek language. We did an "intuitive" (in other words what we felt right!) adaptation and we think it works well in most cases. As the gazette and other similar databases we are working on grow, we will have a large enough dictionary of greek words to analyse.
Initially, we had developed a page to allow you to look at specific issues as a whole. We have not included it in the final release since we found out that it is very easy to access a specific issue by just searching for the Issue number, say "3588" or "Aριθμός 3588").
You can also use wildcards when searching. Wild cards are just character place holders which can be any character. There are two wildcard characters, namely '?' and '*'. Their use is best illustrated by an example. If you want to search for 'προσφορα' or 'προσφορες' or 'προσφοροδοτης' then you can enter "προσφορ*". The '*' character denotes any number of any character. If you wanted to search for 'αριθμος' or 'αριθμοι' then you would enter "αριθμο?". The difference is that the '?' wildcard matches any character but not any number of characters, just one. Unlike '*', you can have multiple '?' wildcards, for example "Λογιστ??" will match 'Λογιστης' and 'Λογιστου'.
There is one more keyword that you can use to make your searches more flexible. The 'near' keyword facilitates proximity searches. This is useful if you want to find words that are close to each other, say in the same sentence. For example if you enter "προσφορα near υπολογιστές", your search will try to return all pages where these two words appear near each other. The system considers words to be near when they are up to 8 words appart from each other.
Last but not least, you can search for sentences, if you enclose the sentence in single quotes ('...'). For example, entering 'Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας' (note that the single quotes are necessary!), will try to find the sentence as it is.
It should be noted that when you enter words, you need not pay attention to capitalisation (the searches are case insensitive) or accents. Thus, "προσφορες", "προσφορές", "ΠΡΟΣΦΟΡΕΣ", "Προσφορεσ" (note the ending 'σ'), and so on are equivalent. The dictionary is normalised and so are your search words before they are submitted to the engine.
This is non-profit service provided for free so naturally we tried to keep our costs down. In the meantime, it is a demonstration of what can be achieved with meagre means, provided there is devotion and smart utilisation of resources. For those who could be interested, we list the hardware components of the system and a brief description of the software
AMD Athlon based with Athlon XP2000+ processor, 1GB RAM, RAID controller with three 80GB IDE drives in a RAID 0 configuration, running IIS5. This machine also hosts the database server.
Firebird 1.0.3. Firebird is an open source version of Interbase. It is a great database, very fast and reliable and doesn't require any administration (ok, veeeery little administration). It has a very small footprint (around 8MB for a minimal installation) and it's not a memory hog.
ISAPI dll module.