Help with PicoSearch

How do I set the file date for date display and sorting?

All PicoSearch accounts can control the display of a status line for each file to show URL, date, and file size. See your Configure Results section in your account manager for the Status Line display options. See your Index Modes section to set the source of the file date, with full options described below in this FAQ.

Paying accounts get the Date Sorting feature, which uses the status line's file date as well. See your Ranking Options section in your account manager for Date Sorting options.

Paying accounts also get Incremental Reindxing for faster indexing, which relies on file dates in a different way. See the Reindex Web Site section of your account manager, and this FAQ, for details on how the Incremental Reindexing feature uses file dates from your server.

PicoSearch has gone to great lengths to make the file status line's URL, date, and size information accurate and flexible for you. You can display the file date in any number of formats, including days of the week (translated to your language setting), international date standards, and hours and minutes in correctly adjusted timezones. You can display the file size in bytes, kilobytes, or rounded kilobytes. You can display the date and size before or after the URL, under the result header or at the end. Pick the format that makes the most sense to your users; we think the default in Greenwich Mean Time will look pretty good to an international audience: • Monday, 1 January 2002, 1:00pm GMT • 1.1k

By default, file date comes from the Last-Modified entity-header field in your HTTP headers. It is customary for your server or content management system to set this field as a raw number which encodes the GMT time when the file was last updated. If your files aren't date sorting properly, or if they're not even displaying a date on the PicoSearch results status line, it is possible that your system isn't filling in the Last-Modified field, and you may want to fix that. Similarly the file size comes from the Content-Length entity-header field. To catch file date and size changes, your search engine needs to reindex of course. If you are a paying account, your Automatic Reindexing scheduler will catch a new file date and size each time it runs for you.

In the PicoSearch spirit of full control options, we also recognize that you may wish to set the date yourself. This can be done in one of several ways:

  • Use an explicit tag in each file: The PICODATESET tag can be inserted into the HTML of any file to override any other file date. The tags are always acknowledged over last modified server dates, and in your Status Line settings of your Configure Results section you can additionally opt to use only the PICODATESET (no server dates will ever be shown). The syntax must be one of the following examples that show alternate formats for January 2, 2007. The month-day-year and year-month-day formats can take an optional separate hours-minutes attribute that encodes 1:01pm in 24 hour time. The last format includes everything in one number.

    <!-- PICODATESET mmddyyyy=01022007 -->
    <!-- PICODATESET mmddyyyy=01022007 hhmm=13:01-->
    <!-- PICODATESET mmddyyyy=01-02-2007 hhmm=13:01-->
    <!-- PICODATESET ddmmyyyy=02-01-2007 hhmm=13:01-->
    <!-- PICODATESET yyyymmddhhmm=200701021301-->

    These examples show that you can set month-day-year or day-month-year, with or without hours-minutes, and with or without a separator character for readability. If you don't have a separator character, you should include a 0 in front of single digits. The separator character can be - or . or , or / or : or ;

  • Use the date specified in the title or meta description: If you have put the date of a file in the title or meta description of a file, PicoSearch can look for it there first. Remember that if there is no meta description in your file, a meta description is built from the first few lines of the file, so the date could be found there too.
        Your syntax options are simply to tell PicoSearch whether the day or month come first. PicoSearch will be smart enough to look for numbers or month names in the language of your account, with a variety of punctuation. You can optionally include the hours and minutes, separated by a colon and assumed to be 24-hour mode unless there is a pm. In this way, many dates will be found equally in the title or meta description. For MDY (month day year) examples include: February 3, 2001 =or= 2/3/2001 =or= Feb 3 2001 1pm =or= 2-3-01 13:00. For DMY (day month year) examples include: 3 February 2001 =or= 3/2/2001 =or= 3 Feb 2001 1pm =or= 3-2-01 13:00.

  • Use the date encoded in the file name or directory: This is a really interesting option that allows you to set the date with the organization of your files. For example, a lot of news sites may encode a file from January 2, 2003 by year month day as: 030102article1.html or under a directory /2003/3/2/article1.html. A local file listing looks sorted this way, so a lot of dated files may already use this naming approach. By choosing a specific date format option in your Status Line date setting source, the date will be parsed out upon each reindexing. Notice that if you don't use separators then you must use 0 in front of single digits, for example 030102.html, but if you do use separators (including - / : ; . , =) then you can drop the 0 and get away with a name like /2003-3-2article.html. Script args (anything after a ?) won't be examined for a date, since there could be many numbers that might look like dates. If there's no date found in the name, the date will come from the server's last modified date. The hours and minutes will default (turn them off in the Status Line if you care), and you'll be able to bypass your server's last modified date no matter how often your files get altered.

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