Searching with Zoomsearch 5



What's covered?

This page shows Step 3 of the ZoomSearch article for users of ZoomSearch 5 or earlier. Click here to see the full Zoomsearch 5 and 6 page.

Step 3 - Create the search database(s)

Now we can open ZoomSearch. The free version from allows you to search up to fifty pages so work with a suitable size project while you are testing. That gives you the chance to prove to yourself that it really is as straightforward as I describe.

This section describes Version 5 of ZoomSearch. I will shortly be updating it to cover Version 6.

Opening ZoomSearch

When you open ZoomSearch you will see the first thing you need to do is define what is to be searched and how. Before you do that though I recommend you create a configuration file. ZoomSearch always opens to the default search configuration so select File | Save As and create a meaningful name. Now during this session of ZoomSearch any saves will be to your configuration.

The Offline Mode tab

  1. The start directory is the location of the published output.
  2. The output directory is where the indexing results are to be saved. For the purposes of this topic using a single project and a single search, use Windows Explorer to create a folder off the root of your published output, we will call that search_files.
  3. The base url will be the relative path between the two. For the purposes of this topic using a single project and a single search, that will be ../

Each search option that you create will need its own configuration file and the details above will need to be amended for each option you offer.


Now you need to decide what how you are going to deploy ZoomSearch. For this topic I am going to use the javascript method but how do you decide what is right for you? If you visit Wrensoft's site, the differences are explained.

In short:


Next you need to set up the rest of the details for the ZoomSearch configuration files, one for each search that you want. For now let's just think about creating a single search across the whole help project. We can cover multiple search options later.

  1. After opening ZoomSearch, click on the Offline Tab and then select File | Save As.
  2. Navigate to a folder where you can store your configuration files and give the file a meaningful name.
  3. Now we can start configuring the search without risk of saving the changes to the default configuration. Click the Configure button to access the configuration screen. Don't be put off by the number of options. This article covers the ones you need to know about and they are described below.


ZoomSearch Tab



The first thing you will see is the level of on screen support. Also note the Help button that takes you to good context sensitive help. In addition there is a more comprehensive PDF file on the Wrensoft site.

Accept the defaults for now.

Search Page

Again the fields are all fairly obvious. Accept the defaults for now.

Scan Options

This lists all the file types that will be scanned. You will probably want to delete all except HTM and perhaps HTML.

Note that plugins are available to also search PDF and DOC files. They are easy to set up and work well. I use them on a company intranet and they work very well but they are outside the scope of this topic.

Skip Options

This lists all the folders and files that will not be scanned and the words that will not be indexed.

This tab requires some consideration. You need to exclude the internal folders and files that RoboHelp creates otherwise your users will be able to access them with ugly results.

  • \wh excludes many of the internal folders but you must take care to ensure that none of your other folders start with wh.
  • If you know that none of your folders and files have the string wh in them, then you could also add that. I found files that started with the following and defined them individually. whc, whf, whg, whi, whn, whp, whs and wht.
  • You need to excude your startpage which is one reaon I always use index.htm for that. Adding index to the string will also exclude the index_csh and index_rhc files that RoboHelp creates.
  • You also need to exclude any redirect pages you may have. If you use my merged webhelp method you will want to exclude the parent.htm redirect page for example.

For now, set up those exclusions. Examine the results of your first search later and make further changes if required.

Note also the ability to define words not to be included in the search. If a user searches on one of those words, they will be told it has been excluded from the search.

Indexing Options

Accept the defaults for now.

Results Layout

Accept the defaults for now. You can only modify the template after creating your first index file so look at that later.


I haven't used this part of ZoomSearch but the word from someone who has was "doddle"!


This can be useful where, for example, you use the term Warehouse in your help but know your customers may use Depot or some similar term.


The maximum number of files that ZoomSearch will index varies with the version.

  • Free version - 50.
  • Standard version - 100
  • Pro version - 200,000. (The default in the Pro version is 1000 but you can change that.)
  • Enterprise version - 1,000,000


For most help projects this will not be required. Use if the help is on a publicly accessible site and you want to index the files on the server rather than a local copy.


Do remember you must run the index every time you create a new output. It is not done automatically when you generate the help.

You can configure ZoomSearch to upload the files after indexing or you can upload them manually.


If these fields don't mean anything to you, leave them alone! You will know if they are relevant.

Status Log

This defines what you want to see displayed when the indexer runs. Accept the defaults for now.


Accept the defaults for now.


Before you run the indexer, click Save. You don't want to lose those settings.

Then click Start Indexing and sit back, not for long though unless you have a really heavyweight target!

Examining the Results

Examine the statistics at the end of the log in the ZoomSearch screen. Do they seem about right?

Look at the files searched. Anything you do not want in the results? If there is, go back to the skip list and edit it, then run the indexer again.

OK, now please return to Step 4 of the ZoomSearch article


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Topic Revisions


Changes to this page

22 Feb 2017

Topic reviewed. No changes made.

22 Aug 2009

New topic.