Query Language

You can search for any word or phrase on a Web site by typing the word or phrase into a query form and clicking the button to execute the query (for example, the Execute Query button on the sample query form). This section covers the following topics:

Searches produce a list of files that contain the word or phrase no matter where they appear in the text. This list gives the rules for formulating queries:

  • Consecutive words are treated as a phrase; they must appear in the same order within a matching document.
  • Queries are case-insensitive, so you can type your query in uppercase or lowercase.
  • You can search for any word except for those in the exception list (for English, this includes a, an, and, as, and other common words), which are ignored during a search.
  • Words in the exception list are treated as placeholders in phrase and proximity queries. For example, if you searched for “Word for Windows”, the results could give you “Word for Windows” and “Word and Windows”, because for is a noise word and appears in the exception list.
  • Punctuation marks such as the period (.), colon (:), semicolon (;), and comma (,) are ignored during a search.
  • To use specially treated characters such as &, |, ^, #, @, $, (, ), in a query, enclose your query in quotation marks (“).
  • To search for a word or phrase containing quotation marks, enclose the entire phrase in quotation marks and then double the quotation marks around the word or words you want to surround with quotes. For example, “World-Wide Web or ““Web””” searches for World-Wide Web or “Web”.
  • You can insert Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) and the proximity operator (NEAR) to specify additional search information.
  • The wildcard character (*) can match words with a given prefix. The query esc* matches the terms “ESC,” “escape,” and so on.
  • Free-text queries can be specified without regard to query syntax.
  • Vector space queries can be specified.
  • ActiveX™ (OLE) and file attribute property value queries can be issued.

Boolean and Proximity Operators

Boolean and proximity operators can create a more precise query.

To Search For Example Results
Both terms in the same page access and basic
access & basic
Pages with both the words “access” and “basic”
Either term in a page cgi or isapi
cgi | isapi
Pages with the words “cgi” or “isapi”
The first term without the second term access and not basic
access & ! basic
Pages with the word “access” but not “basic”
Pages not matching a property value not @size = 100
! @size = 100
Pages that are not 100 bytes
Both terms in the same page, close together excel near project
excel ~ project
Pages with the word “excel” near the word “project”


  • You can add parentheses to nest expressions within a query. The expressions in parentheses are evaluated before the rest of the query.
  • Use double quotes (“) to indicate that a Boolean or NEAR operator keyword should be ignored in your query. For example, “Abbott and Costello” will match pages with the phrase, not pages that match the Boolean expression. In addition to being an operator, the word and is a noise word in English.
  • The NEAR operator is similar to the AND operator in that NEAR returns a match if both words being searched for are in the same page. However, the NEAR operator differs from AND because the rank assigned by NEAR depends on the proximity of words. That is, the rank of a page with the searched-for words closer together is greater than or equal to the rank of a page where the words are farther apart. If the searched-for words are more than 50 words apart, they are not considered near enough, and the page is assigned a rank of zero.
  • The NOT operator can be used only after an AND operator in content queries; it can be used only to exclude pages that match a previous content restriction. For property value queries, the NOT operator can be used apart from the AND operator.
  • The AND operator has a higher precedence than OR. For example, the first three queries are equal, but the fourth is not:a AND b OR c
    c OR a AND b
    c OR (a AND b)
    (c OR a) AND b

Note   The symbols (&, |, !, ~) and the English keywords AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR work the same way in all languages supported by Index Server. Localized keywords are also available when the browser locale is set to one of the following six languages:

Language Keywords
Spanish Y, O, NO, CERCA
ItalianE, O, NO, VICINO

Note   The NEAR operator can be applied only to words or phrases.


Wildcard operators help you find pages containing words similar to a given word.

To Search For Example Results
Words with the same prefix comput* Pages with words that have the prefix “comput,” such as “computer,” “computing,” and so on
Words based on the same stem word fly** Pages with words based on the same stem as “fly,” such as “flying,” “flown,” “flew,” and so on

Free-Text Queries

The query engine finds pages that best match the words and phrases in a free-text query. This is done by automatically finding pages that match the meaning, not the exact wording, of the query. Boolean, proximity, and wildcard operators are ignored within a free-text query. Free-text queries are prefixed with $contents.

To Search For Example Results
Files that match free-text $contents how do I print in Microsoft Excel? Pages that mention printing and Microsoft Excel.

Vector Space Queries

The query engine supports vector space queries. Vector queries return pages that match a list of words and phrases. The rank of each page indicates how well the page matched the query.

To Search For Example Results
Pages that contain specific words light, bulb Files with words that best match the words being searched for
Pages that contain weighted prefixes, words, and phrases invent*, light[50], bulb[10], "light bulb"[400] Files that contain words prefixed by “invent,” the words “light,” “bulb,” and the phrase “light bulb” (the terms are weighted)


  • Components in vector queries are separated by commas.
  • Components in vector queries can be weighted by using the [weight] syntax.
  • Pages returned by vector queries do not necessarily match every term in the query.
  • Vector queries work best when the results are sorted by rank.

Property Value Queries

With property value queries, you can find files that have property values that match a given criteria. The properties over which you can query include basic file information like file name and file size, and ActiveX properties including the document summary (information) that is stored in files created by ActiveX-aware applications.

There are two types of property queries:

  • Relational property queries consist of an “at” character (@), a property name, a relational operator, and a property value. For example, to find all of the files larger than one million bytes, issue the query @size > 1000000.
  • Regular expression property queries consist of a number sign (#), a property name, and a regular expression for the property value. For example, to find to find all of the video (.avi) files, issue the query #filename *.avi. Regular expressions will never match the special properties contents (#contents) and all (#all). Properties that are not retrievable at query time cannot be used in # queries. these include HTML META properties not stored in the property cache.

This section covers the following topics:

Property Names

Property names are preceded by either the “at” (@) or number sign (#) character. Use @ for relational queries, and # for regular expression queries.

If no property name is specified, @contents is assumed.

Properties available for all files include:

Property Name Description
All Matches words, phrases, and any property
Contents Words and phrases in the file
Filename Name of the file
Size File size
Write Last time the file was modified

ActiveX property values can also be used in queries. Web sites with files created by most ActiveX-aware applications can be queried for these properties:

Property Name Description
DocTitle Title of the document
DocSubject Subject of the document
DocAuthor The document’s author
DocKeywords Keywords for the document
DocComments Comments about the document

For a complete list of property names, see the List of Property Names later on this page.

Relational Operators

Relational operators are used in relational property queries.

To Search For Example Results
Property values in relation to a fixed value @size < 100
@size <= 100
@size = 100
@size != 100
@size >= 100
@size > 100
Files whose size matches the query
Property values with all of a set of bits on @attrib ^a 0x820 Compressed files with the archive bit on
Property values with some of a set of bits on @attrib ^s 0x20 Files with the archive bit on

Property Values

To Search For Example Results
A specific value @DocAuthor = Bill Barnes Files authored by “Bill Barnes”
Values beginning with a prefix #DocAuthor George* Files whose author property begins with “George”
Files with any of a set of extensions #filename *.|(exe|,dll|,sys|) Files with .exe, .dll, or .sys extensions
Files modified after a certain date @write > 96/2/14 10:00:00 Files modified after February 14, 1996 at 10:00 GMT
Files modified after a relative date @write > -1d2h Files modified in the last 26 hours
Vectors matching a vector @vectorprop = { 10, 15, 20 } ActiveX documents with a vectorprop value of { 10, 15, 20 }
Vectors where each value matches a criteria @vectorprop >^a 15 ActiveX documents with a vectorprop value in which all values in the vector are greater than 15
Vectors where at least one value matches a criteria @vectorprop =^s 15 ActiveX documents with a vectorprop value in which at least one value is 15


  • Be sure to use the pound (#) character before the property name when using a regular expression in a property value, and an “at” (@) character otherwise. The equal (=) relational operator is assumed for regular-expression queries.
  • File name (#filename) is the only property that efficiently supports regular expressions with wildcards to the left of text.
  • Date and time values are of the form yyyy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss or yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss. The first two characters of the year and the entire time can be omitted. If you omit the first two characters of the year, then 29 or less is interpreted as the year 2000, and 30 or greater is interpreted as the year 1900. All dates and times are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
  • Dates and times relative to the current time can be expressed with a minus (-) character followed by zero or by more integer unit and time unit pairs. Time units are expressed as: (y) for years, (m) for months, (w) for weeks, (d) for days, (h) for hours, (n) for minutes, and (s) for seconds. A three-digit millisecond value can be optionally specified after the seconds value in date expressions. For example, 1997/12/8 10:10:03:452
  • Currency values are of the form x.y, where x is the whole value amount and y is the fractional amount. There is no assumption about units.
  • Boolean values are (t) or (true) for TRUE and (f) or (false) for FALSE.
  • Vectors (VT_VECTOR) are expressed as an opening brace ({), followed by a comma-separated list of values, then a closing brace (}).
  • Single-value expressions that are compared against vectors are expressed as a relational operator, then a (^a) for all of or a (^s) for some of.
  • Numeric values can be in decimal or hexadecimal (preceded by 0x).
  • The contents property does not support relational operators. If a relational operator is specified, no results will be found. For example, @contents Microsoft will find documents containing Microsoft, but @contents=Microsoft will find none.

Regular Expressions

Regular expressions in property queries are defined as follows:

  • Any character except asterisk (*), period (.), question mark (?), and vertical bar (|) defaults to matching just itself.
  • Regular expressions can be enclosed in matching quotes (“), and must be enclosed in quotes if they contain a space ( ) or closing parenthesis ()).
  • The characters *, ., and ? behave as they behave in Windows; they match any number of characters, match (.) or end of string, and match any one character, respectively.
  • The character | is an escape character. After |, the following characters have special meaning:
  • ( opens a group. Must be followed by a matching ).

    ) closes a group. Must be preceded by a matching (.

    [ opens a character class. Must be followed by a matching (un-escaped) ].

    { opens a counted match. Must be followed by a matching }.

    } closes a counted match. Must be preceded by a matching {.

    , separates OR clauses.

    * matches zero or more occurrences of the preceding expression.

    ? matches zero or one occurrences of the preceding expression.

    + matches one or more occurrences of the preceding expression.

    Anything else, including |, matches itself.

  • Between square brackets ([]) the following characters have special meaning:
  • ^ matches everything but following classes. Must be the first character.

    ] matches ]. May only be preceded by ^, otherwise it closes the class.

    - range operator. Preceded and followed by normal characters.

    Anything else matches itself (or begins or ends a range at itself).

  • Between curly braces ({}) the following syntax applies:
  • |{m|} matches exactly m occurrences of the preceding expression. (0 < m < 256).

    |{m,|} matches at least m occurrences of the preceding expression. (1 < m < 256).

    |{m,n|} matches between m and n occurrences of the preceding expression, inclusive. (0 < m < 256, 0 < n < 256).

  • To match *, ., and ?, enclose them in brackets (for example, |[*]sample will match “*sample”).

Query Examples

Example Results
@size > 1000000 Pages larger than one million bytes
@write > 95/12/23 Pages modified after the date
Apple tree Pages with the phrase “apple tree”
"apple tree" Same as above
@contents apple tree Same as above
Microsoft and @size > 1000000 Pages with the word “Microsoft” that are larger than one million bytes
"microsoft and @size > 1000000" Pages with the phrase specified (not the same as above)
#filename *.avi Video files (the # prefix is used because the query contains a regular expression)
@attrib ^s 32 Pages with the archive attribute bit on
@docauthor = John Smith Pages with the given author
$contents why is the sky blue? Pages that match the query
@size < 100 & #filename *.gif Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) files less than 100 bytes in size

List of Property Names

These properties are always available for queries. Additional properties may also be available depending on the configuration of the Web server.

Friendly Name Datatype Property
A_HRef DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML HREF. This property name was created for Microsoft® Site Server and corresponds with the Index Server property name HtmlHRef. Can be queried but not retrieved.
Access VT_FILETIME Last time file was accessed.
All(not applicable) Searches every property for a string. Can be queried but not retrieved.
AllocSizeDBTYPE_I8 Size of disk allocation for file.
AttribDBTYPE_UI4 File attributes. Documented in Win32 SDK.
ClassIdDBTYPE_GUID Class ID of object, for example, WordPerfect, Word, and so on.
CharacterizationDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Characterization, or abstract, of document. Computed by Index Server.
Contents(not applicable) Main contents of file. Can be queried but not retrieved.
CreateVT_FILETIME Time file was created.
DirectoryDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Physical path to the file, not including the file name.
DocAppNameDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Name of application that created the file.
DocAuthorDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Author of document.
DocByteCountDBTYPE_14Number of bytes in a document.
DocCategoryDBTYPE_STR | DBTYPE_BYREFType of document such as a memo, schedule, or whitepaper.
DocCharCountDBTYPE_I4 Number of characters in document.
DocCommentsDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Comments about document.
DocCompanyDBTYPE_STR | DBTYPE_BYREFName of the company for which the document was written.
DocCreatedTmVT_FILETIME Time document was created.
DocEditTimeVT_FILETIME Total time spent editing document.
DocHiddenCountDBTYPE_14Number of hidden slides in a Microsoft® PowerPoint document.
DocKeywordsDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Document keywords.
DocLastAuthorDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Most recent user who edited document.
DocLastPrintedVT_FILETIME Time document was last printed.
DocLastSavedTmVT_FILETIME Time document was last saved.
DocLineCountDBTYPE_14Number of lines contained in a document.
DocManagerDBTYPE_STR | DBTYPE_BYREFName of the manager of the document’s author.
DocNoteCountDBTYPE_14Number of pages with notes in a PowerPoint document.
DocPageCountDBTYPE_I4 Number of pages in document.
DocParaCountDBTYPE_14Number of paragraphs in a document.
DocPartTitlesDBTYPE_STR | DBTYPE_VECTORNames of document parts. For example, in Excel part titles are the names of spread sheets, in PowerPoint slide titles, and in Word for Windows the names of the documents in the master document.
DocPresentationTargetDBTYPE_STR|DBTYPE_BYREFTarget format (35mm, printer, video, and so on) for a presentation in PowerPoint.
DocRevNumberDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Current version number of document.
DocSlideCountDBTYPE_14Number of slides in a PowerPoint document.
DocSubjectDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Subject of document.
DocTemplateDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Name of template for document.
DocTitleDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Title of document.
DocWordCountDBTYPE_I4 Number of words in document.
FileIndexDBTYPE_I8 Unique ID of file.
FileNameDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Name of file.
HitCountDBTYPE_I4 Number of hits (words matching query) in file.
HtmlHRefDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML HREF. Can be queried but not retrieved.
HtmlHeading1DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML document in style H1. Can be queried but not retrieved.
HtmlHeading2DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML document in style H2. Can be queried but not retrieved.
HtmlHeading3DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML document in style H3. Can be queried but not retrieved.
HtmlHeading4DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML document in style H4. Can be queried but not retrieved.
HtmlHeading5DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML document in style H5. Can be queried but not retrieved.
HtmlHeading6DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Text of HTML document in style H6. Can be queried but not retrieved.
Img_Alt DBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Alternate text for <IMG> tags. Can be queried but not retrieved.
PathDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Full physical path to file, including file name.
RankDBTYPE_I4 Rank of row. Ranges from 0 to 1000. Larger numbers indicate better matches.
RankVectorDBTYPE_I4 | DBTYPE_VECTOR Ranks of individual components of a vector query.
ShortFileNameDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Short (8.3) file name.
SizeDBTYPE_I8 Size of file, in bytes.
USNDBTYPE_I8 Update Sequence Number. NTFS drives only.
VPathDBTYPE_WSTR | DBTYPE_BYREF Full virtual path to file, including file name. If more than one possible path, then the best match for the specific query is chosen.
WorkIdDBTYPE_I4 Internal ID for file. Used within Index Server.
WriteVT_FILETIME Last time file was written.

Defining New Property Names

To define properties that are not in the previous list, you must list them in a [Names] section in the .idq file. To use these properties in a restriction, sort specification, or as a retrieved column, you have define them in the .idq file, using the following format:

#Properties that are not in the standard list
Propertyname ( Datatype ) = GUID ["Name" | propid]

In the syntax, "Name" is the property name ("Sales" in the following example), and propid is the property ID in hexadecimal. Note that you need to surround the friendly name with quotation marks, but the property ID does not take quotation marks.

For example, suppose you want to define an HTML meta tag as a property name that somebody can search for. The property you want to define is Sales.

To define the Sales property

  1. In the .idq file, under the [Names] section, add the following line.
  2. MetaDescription(DBTYPE_WSTR) = d1b5d3f0-c0b3-11cf-9a92-00a0c908dbf1 "Sales"

    The GUID number comes from the MetaTagClsid parameter in the registry, at the following location:

  3. Then, in the HTML files where you want the tag to appear, define the meta description.
  4. For example, say you want to search for all files that give sales projections for the future:

    In File1.htm:

    <META NAME="Sales" CONTENT="Projections for 1998">

    In File2.htm:

    <META NAME="Sales" CONTENT="Projections for 1999">

    In File3.htm:

    <META NAME="Sales" CONTENT="Sales in 1997">

Note   Be sure to add your META NAME tags between the <head> and </head> HTML tags at the beginning of the file.

You can now search for all files that show sales projections. Send the following query:

@metadescription projections

This query returns all the files with the word projections in the CONTENT field of the meta tag. In this example, File1.htm and File2.htm are returned.

But suppose you want to search for sales by year, for example a list of sales in 1997. Send the following query:

@metadescription 1997

File3.htm is returned.

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