GroupWise: Introducing Relevance Sorting

Introducing Scott Clayton - Senior Windows Client Architect. One of our absolute best engineers and he is here to explain one the GroupWise Ascot features - Relevance Sorting!

First Burger King, then Tivo, then GroupWise?

Remember those old Burger King commercials with the tag line Have it your way? What a novel concept to go into a burger joint, place your order and then not have to pull off the onions and scrape off the mustard or any other stuff you hate.

These days when it comes to TV I'm no longer bound by the schedule dictated by the networks or cable stations. Thanks to Tivo I not only watch what I want when I want it, I even skip the commercials. Talk about having it my way. Wouldn't it be nice if GroupWise worked like that?

In GroupWise Ascot we're making progress in that direction. We're introducing a concept we call relevance sorting. Here's how it works. You perform an action, let's say you use name completion to find a person you want to send an email to. When you hit enter to add that person to the email's address list we mark that contact as relevant, because you used it. And if you hit send on that email we'll mark that contact as relevant again, effectively doubling the relevance count for that contact. Then, the next time you use name completion the contacts with a higher relevance count will sort to the top of the list name completion hit list. This means that, theoretically, after you use GroupWise Ascot for a little while you should be able to name complete to your most relevant contacts with fewer keystrokes. Cool, huh?

What happens when I stop using an individual contact you ask? Will I be stuck with them forever just because we emailed back and forth a few times? The short answer is no, you won't be stuck with them forever. Each time nightly maintenance is run by your administrator the relevance count will be reduced by a small percentage, small in comparison to how much the relevance count increases when you use your contacts. So if you stop using a contact, after a few months, the relevance count on that contact will return back to zero.

In the spirit of full disclosure there is a limitation to our relevance sorting implementation in the name completion list. Number one: it doesn't work against the system address book. The reason has to do with the static nature of system wide contacts, something we hope to address in our upcoming Windermere release. Number two: the relevance sorting doesn't work across personal address books, only within. Based on your name completion search order you'll see results from the first book contacts are found in, with the most relevant sorted to the top, then the results from the second book, with the most relevant sorted to the top of that list, but underneath all the contacts found in the first book. What this really means is, if you consistently use name completion to find contacts in multiple personal address books the usefulness of the relevance sorting will be limited. If you mainly use the default Frequent Contacts book, or a single personal address book the relevance sorting will have a greater impact on your name completion day in and day out. And one more thing, we plan to redesign name completion entirely in an upcoming release, so at that point we hope to address all of these limitations.

Another place where we introduced relevance sorting is in the Recently Used Folders list. This is found in the same space as the Favorites folder list. Each time you open a folder, or drop an item into a folder we increase the relevance count for that folder. The top 15 folders are displayed under the Recently Used Folders root.

For those who like the Favorites folder list, which is more of a manual pinning of folders (you put them in and you take them out), you can still do it that way. The Recently Used Folders root will be placed below your favorite folders. But, if you didn't ever take the time to add to the Favorites folder list the Recently Used Folders list will take over, hiding the Favorites root folder until you add something to it. The Recently Used Folders list will sort your most relevant folders to the top, and if you stop using a folder it will, over time, move down in the list till it falls completely off, exactly like the contacts. This provides a more automatic way to spotlight the folders you use the most. And in order to prevent clutter in your Favorites space we won't put any folders in the Recently Used Folders list that are in your Favorites folder list, or are on your Nav Bar.

One more place we're using the relevance sorting is with categories. In previous releases of GroupWise the menu showing your categories was sorted based on the last one used. In Ascot we're using relevance count to sort the categories on the menu.

So, when you start running GroupWise Ascot watch how name completion behaves, take a look at the Recently Used Folders list, and check out the category menu as well. Relevance sorting is just one way GroupWise Ascot tailors the user experience so each individual can have it their way. In the future we will look for more places to utilize relevance sorting. If you have any ideas on how you would like us to do that please let us know.



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Comment List
  • Hey Ian,

    A couple of things....

    1. The disambiguation dialog still comes up. We have not removed that capability or functionality, but it has improved. Meaning, if you have duplicates, but they are both the same email address, then there really is not any difference on which one you choose, so we don't bother you with selection, we simply choose the first one and move on. So, if you have duplicates...same display name, but different email addresses in the same address book - the disambiguation dialog will still appear.

    2. Search order - why is having the System Address Book first in the list so important? The intent of Frequent Contacts is that not only do you get 'just' the addresses from the SAB that you actually use, but also you should get quicker response and editable entries. Is there some problem you are trying to 'fix' with having the SAB first in the search order? The only one I know of is if the SAB entry gets edited and a new email address is in the SAB, historically this did not always get synchronized to the Frequent Contacts in a timely manner. That is a very very old issue. Not only does synchronization happen more frequently, but it also does not matter. GroupWise's late binding will accurately resolve the email address and deliver as expected. We would be very interested in a duplicatable issue related to this.

  • Hi Dean,

    Mika read my intent correctly. :-) I'm not against Frequent Contacts.

    Frequent Contacts itself is not the issue - just that it is first in the search order.

    Not having the admin control of this means we cannot effectively change it.
    Sure we *could* log into several thousand mailboxes and change the setting and tell HelpDesk to remember to set this on every new user, but we both know that is another nail. Unless we can get IDM to change this setting per user (which I doubt) then it will get forgotten on new accounts.

    As we also run in Caching mode (we have WAN links !) the admin change also has to apply to it.

    Interesting reading the enhancements - particularly like the removal of bad addresses idea !

    I am sure a previous build of GW6.5 or GW7 used to pop up with a list of matching addresses, but disappeared...

  • Address book is good (well, creating and editing groups could perhaps be less strange) but it often feels sluggish. Addressbook is one of those things that just needs to be snappy. When you click on it, it should pop up if not immediately then in a blink of an eye, not after 5 or even 10 seconds.
  • Dean,

    it's not the feature itself, which is nice and even important, but the fact that by default it is the first place for address lookup instead of system addressbook. We've had some issues that are resolved by changing it to second place (don't remember right now exactly what it was). Also cases where recipients address changes the old one always pops up and people keep sending mails to that one..

    But your list of ideas for enhancing it sound good - but I hope they are not mutually exclusive.. :-)
  • Finally...a friend!!! Ok Eric - you just moved into 'Favored Nation' status :)

  • I find GroupWise's address book and contacts pretty darn good. Admin control over name completion search order would be nice, but you can still do this with a few minutes extra work by proxy access or just logging in to the client as the user, since the admin usually knows the password and setting the order. Compared to Outlook and the amazingly short-sighted Nk2 nickname file, that resides on the local drive, gets corrupted, frequently has bad information, and has probably been the cause of more email going to the wrong address than anything else, GroupWise address books/contacts/name completion is wonderful.
  • Ian,

    Thanks for the feedback. Frequent Contacts has its history for sure. I am personally amazed at the negativity that still exists for this functionality. Issues that were resolved 10 years ago still have a special place in the heart of many administrators.

    We actually do have several ideas and plans about ultimately resolving or improving Name Completion so it is more as expected and simply works.

    - always show the email address as you name complete
    - name complete on more than just name...independent of first last or last, first
    - show all names that match as you type, across address books, to allow the user to choose the right one
    - administrator control of Search Order or making this simply unnecessary
    - automatic remove or flagging of email addresses that are undeliverable or bad - removing them from your address book or at least from the name completion search order

    I think that people want and need the functionality or ideal of frequent contacts. We need to make it a lot easier.

  • Recently used folder logic sounds good !

    With the Name Completion though, you are playing with fire for people that are creatures of habit.

    The same people that hate MS Office dynamic menus that hide "seldom used" functions such as "Save" will have trouble coping with the names being presented in a different order. At least with alphabetical order they can understand the logic.

    A related complaint we have is due to Frequent Contacts being before the System AB by default. Frequent contacts learns the recipient's home email account (which has the same display name set) and presents it first, instead of the "internal" address. The amount of emails sent to Gmail when it was intended to be internal is amazing. Blaming the user for this doesn't stop the problem occurring. Well intentioned helpdesk staff who just delete the Frequent Contact entry (which is quickly relearned) further compound the issue.

    Now if only we could administratively set the Name Completion Search order....

    Or maybe we can go back to prompting the user when we have multiple identical names - except we can ask to merge the records and set a preferred address ?