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Beginning Transact-SQL with SQL Server 2000 and 2005 by Dan Wood, Paul Turley

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11

Full-Text Index Queries

In the late 1980s, I worked as the Tech Support Manager for a growing medical billing software company. We had written most of our own internal support systems, accounting, payroll, and tech support incident management, not to mention our own software products. After a few years and hundreds of thousands of support calls later, we had accumulated what we considered to be a huge repository of support call notes and history. We found ourselves taking calls from customers whose issues seemed vaguely familiar. When a support technician received a call, he or she would page through support incident screens, looking for old records to help find resolutions to repeat problems, often to no avail. Our system didn't store data in a relational database so we couldn't use SQL or any other standard language to query data. All of our data lived in flat text files. While attending Comdex in Las Vegas, I found a company with an interesting product that did indexing over large volumes of text. This software could build searchable indexes for practically anything: encyclopedias, dictionaries, religious books, or hundreds of files in your file system. We quickly built this into our support system and it changed everything. When a customer called and told one of our support technicians they were getting error 3204 when they entered a new patient diagnosis, the technician could instantly find all incidents related to the same problem by simply typing a few keywords.

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