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We've a few apps where I work that make use of content search. EG, you can search for specific text within a document held in our system.

One thing we've been looking at is having the search start as the user begins to type, very similar to the way google now works.

Apart from a slight reduction in speed, are there any other hangups we should consider?

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This seems to be a common trend in on-line applications like you say, but it also appears in the latest version of Microsoft Office (specifically, I've got Outlook open, and the email search box filters the list as you type).

I would think that as long as your search methods aren't generally time-consuming, and that you were smart in how you gained the data from the datasource, you should be ok.

From personal experience with using things such as windows indexing to provide content search, the results can be pretty good. However, if you were querying, say, SQL Server using free-text search, you may have adverse knockons, such as locking issues?

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I think it works well for filtering a list or tree control. We do that in our app extensively. I think it works less well when the whole screen shifts around and the list is full screen. This guy created a Google Instant for YouTube. I find the changing of the video to be a little insane.

It works in certain circumstances.

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