2) ASCII sort vs. Natural sort:
There are several factors at work here.
Search weighting is something we hope to add back into AtoM 2.0, but at the moment, has not been implemented in the search for archival descriptions. You can see the settings that we had in place for ICA-AtoM (the 1.x version of our software), here: https://www.ica-atom.org/doc/Search_fields
Unless members of our community present strong arguments for changing these settings, it's likely that we will work toward re-implementing what seemed to work well in 1.x, and use that as a base from which to make further improvements.
2.x was a huge architectural change for AtoM, and one in which we put in many unsupported development hours. Consequently, the 2.0.0 release was not as polished as we might have dreamed of, and there are elements of the application that still require fine-tuning. Elasticsearch was one of the major architectural changes, and while it is a powerful search and analytic engine, we have not yet had the chance to experiment with all of its possibilities and fine tune these. Most of the default ES settings have been maintained in AtoM - with some analyzers put in place for autocomplete fields in the application. You can find the ES documentation here: http://www.elasticsearch.org/guide/
There are also a couple other elements that will inform the current search ordering for archival descriptions. Notably:
1) Most recent vs. Alphabetical:
If you navigate to Admin > Settings > Global, you will see that there are two settings for sort - one for authenticated (i.e. logged in) users, and one for anonymous (i.e. not logged in) users. These settings determine the default sort order for either kind of user. "Last updated" will set the default sort for search and browse results to show the most recently created or updated records that match the query first, while alphabetic will sort them alphabetically.
this is a problem that exists not just in AtoM, but in computer science in general - it is known as the difference between ASCII sorting
(i.e. the order that the computer's file system uses, based on the ASCII table
where, for example, "a" comes after A-Z) and natural sorting
- that is, an alphabetical or alpha numeric sorting that makes sense to
humans. Coming up with an algorithm that transforms the computer's
native ASCII sort into one that presents information to the end-user in a
natural sort order that makes sense and works every time is
surprisingly difficult. There is an article that outlines some of the
challenges here: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/12/sorting-for-humans-natural-sort-order.html
. You will note, by taking a look at the ASCII table, that a description whose title starts with "A" will be preceded by one
starting with a number, which in turn will be preceded by one beginning
with a quotation mark, which will be preceded by a description that begins
with a space before its first character. Similarly, capitalization affects sort order - lowercase letters appear farther down in the sort order than uppercase ones.
At some point in the future, we'd love to spend some time seriously analyzing this challenge and creating a natural sort order for AtoM - but it will take time and consideration, and likely requires development sponsorship for us to be able to dedicate the time to it the task requires. For now, if you are concerned about sort
order, be sure to consider this when naming your records.
I have added a note about this in our documentation about the use of the Sort button (
) on our Navigation page (along with an ASCII table for reference), but the Search and Advanced search pages are still works in progress, and I have not added the information about this in either place yet.