CoRIS Geoportal - Search Tips

The Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) Geoportal application provides centralized access to distributed Coral Reef Conservation Program publications, geospatial data, tools, applications and services.

Things to Know Before Search

The CoRIS Geoportal searches the full metadata record by default. You can also define a specific field in the metadata record to search.

Valid fields include: title, abstract, purpose, supplinf (Supplemental Information), keywords, origin (data originators or publication authors), people (data contacts), body (full metadata), resource.url, website.url, journalTitle (Journal Title), proceedTitle (Proceedings Title), seriesTitle (Series Title), Note, corporateName, and editor. A complete list of indexed fields can be found here:

Example Searches:

REST Search

The CoRIS Geoportal also provides the REST based services. A combined query can be passed through a web URL allowing you to create and share search results.

This URL shows a search with text "coral reefs" for the period of 2005 to 2010 in the geographical box of Southwest bounding coordinate of 175° W and 17° N, and a Northeast bounding coordinate of -152° W and 28.5° N.

Quick Start:



Data Access Options for Results

Additional Options

The choices available under Additional Options are: 1) content type of the resource, 2) data topic category, 3) the time period for when the metadata record was last modified, and 4) the order by which results are sorted. Note that when you apply a search filter, the geoportal filters results based on the metadata alone. This means that if the term is not found in the metadata, or that record's standard does not describe the search parameter upon which the filter is applied (data category, for example), it will not be returned in the results. To reset the search options back to the default settings select "Clear All".

Detailed Search Help on Lucene Syntax

The following search instructions are adapted from "ArcGIS|Geoportal extension 1>>User Help >>Using Lucene Search Text Queries".

The Geoportal extension uses a sophisticated search engine that provides many search options, ranking options, fast performance, and extensibility. The search engine is based on the open source search engine Apache Lucene. To make the most of the Geoportal extension's search page, keep in mind the following features that Lucene provides for search syntax:


A query is broken up into terms and operators. There are two types of terms: Single Terms and Phrases. A Single Term is a single word such as coral or reef. A Phrase is a group of words surrounded by double quotes such as "coral reef". Multiple terms can be combined together with Boolean operators to form a more complex query. Examples:

Special Characters

The Geoportal extension supports escaping special characters that are part of the query syntax. The current list special characters are + - && || ! ( ) { } [ ] ^ " ~ * ? : \ To escape these characters use the \ before the character. For example to search for items that contain the scale hit 1:250k use the query: \1\:250k.


Lucene supports fielded data. When performing a search you can either specify a field, or use the default field. The field names and default field is implementation-specific. You can search any field by typing the field name followed by a colon and then the term for which you are looking. Targeting a specific field in the query can be more accurate than just searching with terms. Keep in mind that some fields are case sensitive. Remember that certain special characters must be escaped in the query by using a back-slash (\) character or embraced within quotation ("") whenever they are a part of text to search. Examples:

NOTE: The field is only valid for the term that it directly precedes, so the query title:Do it right will only find "Do" in the title field.

Wildcard Searches

The Geoportal extension supports single and multiple character wildcard searches within single terms (not within phrase queries).

CAUTION: You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search.

Fuzzy Searches

The Geoportal extension supports fuzzy searches based on the Levenshtein Distance, or Edit Distance algorithm. To do a fuzzy search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Single Term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to air use the fuzzy search: air~. This search will not only find items containing terms like air and airplane, but also aid. The Geoportal extension supports specifying the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example: air~0.8 The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.

Proximity Searches

The Geoportal extension supports finding words that are within a specific distance away. To do a proximity search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Phrase. For example to search for air and quality within 10 words of each other in a document use the search: air quality"~10

Range Searches

The Geoportal extension supports range queries for envelope and timestamp. This allows the user to match documents whose field(s) values are between the lower and upper bound specified by the Range Query. Range Queries can be inclusive or exclusive of the upper and lower bounds.

Envelope Examples

NOTE: The syntax here is important. It is the field name (envelope) followed by colon (:), and then either an inclusive range definition or exclusive range definition. For an inclusive search square brackets ([ ]) are used and for an exclusive search curly braces are used ({ }). The difference is that exclusive range searches will select only those resources in which the envelope falls exactly within the range specified, while an inclusive range search will select resources that intersect the range specified but also fall outside. The first pair of values are the lower left corner coordinates followed by TO keyword (uppercase), than the upper right corner coordinates. Coordinates are always given in WGS 1984 (4236) projection system. Wildcards can also be used in place of a single coordinate or an entire pair of corner coordinates, for example envelope:[*,-70 TO +30,*] or envelope:{-80,-70 TO *}

Timestamp Examples:

For the timestamp syntax, the field name specified is dateModified followed by colon and then an inclusive range definition. The first example will select resources with dateModified between 2009-10-11 to 2009-11-10 including these range dates. The second example will select resources with dateModified from the year 2006 to 2010. The last example will select resources with dateModified in December of 2009 (no brackets required).

Boosting a Term

The Geoportal extension provides the relevance level of matching documents based on the terms found. To boost a term use the caret, ^, symbol with a boost factor (a number) at the end of the term you are searching. The higher the boost factor, the more relevant the term will be. Boosting allows you to control the relevance of a document by boosting its term. For example, if you are searching for air quality and you want the term air to be more relevant, boost it using the ^ symbol along with the boost factor next to the term. You would type: air^4 quality. This will make documents with the term air appear more relevant. You can also boost Phrase Terms as in the example: "air quality"^4 "water quality". By default, the boost factor is 1. Although the boost factor must be positive, it can be less than 1 (e.g. 0.2)

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators allow terms to be combined through logic operators. The Geoportal extension supports AND, +, OR, NOT and - as Boolean operators.

NOTE: Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS

NOTE: The NOT operator cannot be used with just one term.


The Geoportal extension supports using parentheses to group clauses to form sub queries. This can be very useful if you want to control the boolean logic for a query. For example: (air OR water) AND quality will find documents containing the words air and quality or the words water and quality.

Field Grouping

The Geoportal extension supports using parentheses to group multiple clauses to a single field. For example: title:(air OR water) finds items that contain the words air or water in the title.