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Searching database with a single query string

edited July 2007 in Vanilla 1.0 Help

We have already gone crazy with developing specification for a certain project, and I decided to turn to you, guys, for help. Imagine a huge database, with multiple tables, each table comprising about 20 parameters (and hundreds of entries). The common approach to search the database is to have the user input the necessary parameters-values in a huge form (with text, checkbox, radio, and select inputs). What we want is different. We want to simplify the user's life and offer him a single query input (like on google) to search this huge database, in which he could tell us in a short form what he wants, and we would parse the string, determine the parameters he input, determine the values of those parameters, and return the results according to the query. We have started developing algorithms for parsing the string, but we are in deep shock after several hours of this madness. Do you know any standard methods for such crazy stuff? Or do you guys have at least something to say about it? Or maybe you know that it is very difficult or something... Any ideas or comments would be greatly appreciated.

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