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Faceted finding

Using a faceted classification system to help users find information. Faceted browsing, searching and querying are included here.

Boot camp - Faceted navigation

The Taxonomy Boot Camp (November 2-3, 2006, San Jose, CA, USA) includes 2 back-to-back sessions on faceted navigation.

Semi-Automated Creation of Faceted Hierarchies, Marti Hearst, Professor, School of Information, University of California, Berkeley
Faceted navigation for information collections is gaining wide acceptance. However, a considerable impediment to the wider adoption of faceted interfaces is the creation of the faceted hierarchies and the assignments of terms from the hierarchies to the information items. Marti Hearst and her colleague, Emilia Stoica have designed an algorithm called Castanet that semiautomatically generates hierarchical faceted metadata from textual description of items. Using an existing lexical database (such as WordNet), the algorithm carves out a structure that reflects the contents of the target information collection. Learn how the algorithm has been successfully applied to collections as diverse as recipes, biomedical journal titles, and art history image descriptions. The resulting category hierarchies require only small adjustments to achieve intuitive results with good coverage.
Getting the Best of Both: Taxonomies & Faceted Navigation, Tom Reamy, Chief Knowledge Architect, KAPS Group
Faceted navigation has been getting a lot of press, but it is important to understand what facets really are, how facets are different from categories, and how to combine facets and categories to create powerful but easy-to-use information access. The right balance of taxonomies and facets combines the best of browsing and advanced search in ways that users will actually use. This session presents the results of a recent project that combined two standard hierarchical taxonomies and then set up a mechanism for dynamically mapping them across two facet dimensions to enable users to zero in on content faster and easier than with just facets or categories.

I am sure I will not be able to go, but if you do attend, let me know what you learn. It is great to see detailed concepts related to faceted finding, searching and browsing being covered. This is more than just "fun" now.

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Flamenco goes open source

Yee-ha! Flamenco, the leading faceted browsing research platform, has officially gone open source. See also: Flamenco section at SourceForge.

I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of the code to test out a few months ago. It was easy to install and within a few hours I had learned just enough Python to make changes. I plan on using it for some of my personal sites - perhaps reviving Usable Web on Flamenco, if I ever get the time.

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Links to more on faceted browsing

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Faceted browsing

I did 2 presentations about faceted browsing in 2004.

July 8, 2004, "Faceted Browsing - How User Interfaces Represent and Benefit from a Faceted Classification System", SOASIST meeting, Dayton, Ohio.

  • Discover what is "faceted browsing" and other Web-focused terms for old ideas
  • Dissect faceted browsing examples from IBM,, MSN, Forrester and others
  • Discuss faceted browsing research questions about user interface design, information architecture and faceted classification systems

February 28, 2004, "Fun with faceted browse", IA Summit 2004, Austin, Texas. Introduced the term to the IA community (and there turned out to be a whole series of presentations on this same topic).

Selected slides from the presentation (click for larger version)

Top, middle and destination pages dissected

IBM finder dissected

Flamenco dissected

MSN dissected

DC2003 dissected

Forrester dissected dissected

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