Search from third party applications with FastFind

FileHold document management software has a powerful feature called FastFind that gives users the ability to search for documents within FileHold directly from any third party application. A common use of FastFind is to searching for images related to an invoice number from inside an accounting application. In the accounting system the invoice number would be highlighted and the FastFind feature would quickly locate an image of any documents (invoices, purchase orders, requisitions, contracts etc.) with that number in FileHold.

FastFind requires the FileHold Desktop Application (FDA). When the FDA is logged in, users can use keyboard to grab text from the 3rd party application and directly launch a search in FileHold to find related documents instantly. 

The basic FastFind functionality is easy to set up and use by most users with some basic instructions. A more advanced option called FastFind templates is also available to provide more over how and when a search will occur. FastFind templates are defined in advance with a compatible application can be set up to improve the quality of searches from 3rd party applications. With a FastFind template the 3rd party application screen only needs to be showing the correct document and the user simply presses a predefined hotkey.

FastFind searches can be based on a full text search (file and metadata search) or a quick search. If based on a quick search, it will only search on that specific search parameter and nothing else in the system (unlike a full text search which will search through everything). Advantages of using a quick search with FastFind would be to be able to narrow the search results. For example, if FastFind was only used to locate a invoices in FileHold from your accounting software, a quick search could be defined to limit the search results to only return invoice related documents.

See Quick Searches for more information on configuring quick searches. FastFind is an optional feature that must be purchased and enabled in the license key before the feature will work. 

The FDA must be installed and logged in for the FastFind search to operate.

Enabling FastFind

  1. In the FileHold Desktop Application, go to File > Preferences and Settings > FastFind Preferences > Enable FastFind.
  2. Enable the keyboard shortcuts and templates you want to use. For more information, see below.
  3. Click OK.

Since a variety of hotkeys are used by 3rd party applications, FastFind allows many different combinations of keys to be configured for initiating a search.

FastFind attempts to work behind the scenes to extract information from 3rd party applications for use in a search. Different technologies used to implement 3rd party applications can affect the possible methods for extracting their information. For this reason, FastFind includes five different information extracting techniques.

  • Clipboard search relies on the contents of the clipboard for search text. Most applications have a method to get text into the clipboard, so this approach is widely compatible.
  • Optical character recognition search "reads" the characters on the screen. Even if an application does not use the clipboard, it generally will include readable text on the screen.
  • The selection search is a variation on the clipboard search. In the application the user will double click or otherwise select the text they would like to search for. FastFind will attempt to trick the application into copying in the selected text to the clipboard then execute a clipboard search. 
  • Mouse over search works with applications created using Microsoft WinForms technology. When this method of creating a 3rd party application user interface is used, it exposes the contents of the screen as Windows objects that are accessible to applications like FastFind.
  • Template search allows for the definition of a mapping between a 3rd party application screen and FastFind. This is the most powerful method for searching as it leaves little to chance for the end user to initate a search. This method can only be used with applications created using Microsoft WinForms technology. FastFind template creation is an advanced technique and would not likely be done by an average user. 

You should test FastFind with your 3rd party applications to determine which of the five techniques work or work best for searching.

FastFind preferences

Use the FastFind preferences to determine the shortcuts you want to use to look up information from third party applications. For example, a search in a Microsoft Word document for the term “FastFind” using the shortcut key Ctrl +D, returns the search results in the FileHold Desktop Application.

Some, none, or all of these settings may be determined and/or enforced by your System Administrator.

To set the FastFind preferences

  1. In FDA, go to File > Preferences and Settings > FastFind Preferences.
  2. To enable FastFind, select the Enable FastFind check box.
  3. FastFind templates are cached on on local workstation. To have them updated when you log onto the document management system, select the Update FastFind templates… check box. Read more about FastFind templates.
  4. Select the check boxes to enable the method. Showing the default shortcut key options:
  • Mouse Search (Alt + S) — Activates an on-the-fly screen scraper. When this is done a green bar appears in the bottom-left corner of the user’s desktop screen. Users can now start moving their mouse over screen form objects such as data fields or field labels. The application must have been created using Microsoft WinForms technology for this method to work. The text under the current mouse position is captured and displayed in the green bar. If a user wishes to search with the captured text they may left click to invoke the FileHold search. This initiates the FTS+Metadata search in FileHold and the search results are displayed within FileHold’s standard search results screen. Pressing the ESC button at any time will stop the mouse search mode. To use the selection search:
  1. Click Alt+S.
  2. Click on the term or number you want to search.
  3. Do not click anywhere else. Wait until the FileHold Desktop Application is invoked – the FDA will appear as the top most screen when the search completes.​
  • Clipboard Search (Alt + C) — This uses a 2-step process to search for documents in the Library. First, you copy any text from the screen to the Windows clipboard using traditional “Copy” menu option or the Ctrl+C shortcut available in most Windows applications. Next, press Alt+C to use the contents of the Windows clipboard to activate a Full Text and Metadata search in FileHold. Since FastFind uses the contents of the clipboard, any string or partial strings can be copied to the clipboard and searched upon (similarly to when using the well known Cut/Past sequence in Windows) can be used as the search criteria including partial highlights of the text string).

  • Selection Search (Ctrl + D) — Selection Search is similar to the Clipboard Search (and in fact is using Clipboard Search as its internal mechanism), however, it uses a one step process to initiate the search after a user highlights their selection on a business application form or as a part of the content of a document opened in a 3rd party application. Invoking Ctrl+D is all that is needed to initiate search and display results within FileHold application. The 3rd party application must support the standard Ctrl+C functionality to copy the current selection in a timely fashion to the clipboard in order for the selection search to operate.

  • Enable screen OCR search (Alt + F) — Allows you to do a search based on the Click to Tag functionality. Once the shortcut key is invoked, you can click on the text on the screen or draw a binding box around the text. Optical character recognition will be used to interpret the text on the screen before performing the search in FileHold. This method will work with any application including browser based applications, however the quality of the optical character recognition will be dependent the size and shape of the text on the screen.

  1. In the Search using area, select one of the following:
  • File and metadata — Searches document name, metadata, document contents and file properties
  • Quick search — The search text is provided as the quick search parameter. Click … to select the quick search. To learn how to create a quick search, see Quick Searches.
  1. To activate FastFind templates, select the check box next to the template name. Learn more about creating FastFind templates.

  2. Click OK.

Changing the keyboard shortcuts

You can change the predefined keyboard shortcuts to a different shortcut key. You would do this if the default FastFind shortcut key conflicts with another preset shortcut key in the application that you are doing the searching from. For example you can change the mouse search shortcut to Shift + F3 instead of using Alt+S.

To change the shortcut key

  1. Click the keyboard shortcut type you want to change (mouse search, selection search, or clipboard search).
  2. In the Change Shortcut screen, change the default keyboard combination and click OK.
Setting the shortcut keys for FastFind