The Six Million Dollar Search


We’ve gotten a ton of feedback and requests about the Wesabe search function in the time since we originally added search as a feature. Our design — okay, my design — was to have one search field with two buttons, one that would search your own personal accounts, and another that would search all the public information on Wesabe. That didn’t work — it was too confusing and people didn’t like it. We’ve also gotten a lot of requests for attribute search — that is, a way to make more sophisticated searches than the basic “anything with this word in it” format. Finally, as Wesabe has grown, the amount of data our search engine covered started to grow enormously as well, and unfortunately we had a number of performance and accuracy problems with our original search engine as a result.

That’s all over now. After finishing up a long run of work on our new Tips tab, Coda put on his surgical mask, took search into the operating room, and made a bunch of “We have the technology — we can rebuild him” jokes. He set about fixing everything about search on Wesabe, and I’m happy to report that almost every one of the requests we’ve gotten for search has now been fulfilled.

We’ve gotten rid of the two-button search interface, and now each tab has its own search field, which searches that tab only. If you want to search your accounts, the search field in the Accounts tab will do that, whereas if you’re looking through Groups, the search field there will only search Groups.

In the Accounts area, Coda has added a very rich set of attributes for searching. You can, for example, search for all of your work expenses that don’t have a receipt image attached like this:

tag:workexpense has:no-attachment

You can search for all of your $100.00 ATM withdrawals in your Wells Fargo account like this:

merchant:atm account:wells amount:100

Or, if you want to make sure you get the ATM withdrawals near $100.00 (say, the ones with a withdrawal fee attached to them), you can search for transactions within 10% of an amount like this:

merchant:atm account:wells amount:~100

If you want to search through your notes on your transactions to find the place you took your friend Sarah, that’s easy, too:


There are many more options available — check out the search documentation to learn more.

Last but not least, Coda rebuilt the search infrastructure so that we have good confidence it can scale with the amount of growth we’ve had over the past year and a half, and a lot more. (Maybe it would be more accurate to call this the “Six Trillion Dollar Search.”) We have some work planned to make the search results display significantly faster, but we’re not limited by the search engine any more — any performance problems left are in other parts of the system.

Oh, and one more thing: all of these search features are available through the Wesabe API, too.

Thanks to Coda for taking this on and making such significant improvements to search on Wesabe. We’ve been making “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah” sounds while searching, now — it’s fun to have all that power available.

4 Responses to “The Six Million Dollar Search”

  1. Rob Wilkerson Says:

    Feels like a heavy dose of Gmail influence, which is not a bad thing at all. Easy syntax with fine-tuned control. Very nice. I haven’t spent much time on the site lately, but will have to make a point of getting back in and playing with this. Looks like fun.

  2. Adam McCrea Says:

    Wow, fantastic work on this. You’ve kept it simple enough for people who want a basic search and powerful enough for true power users. I just tried a search with an amount range — ridiculous!

  3. JohnB Says:

    Cool stuff – but its time to ask for the impossible – can you get Coda to wear shoes?

  4. Pamela Grundy Says:

    Wow, you had me at ‘Wesabe’–but you actually BUILT it too? I am in awe of you, truly. Your Kung Foo is stronger than my Kung Foo. I bow to you. Thank you thank you!

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