Allow for customizability of text snippets in advanced search results
Summary of the Problems: Search result snippets in an Advanced Search are often uninformative due to two distinct problems.
Problem 1. The length of text snippet in each search result is too short.
Problem 2. The search term occurs too "early" in the result snippet (that is, the term you searched for is the first or second word in the snippet--you see nothing that came before your term, which is often what you needed to know).
Solution to Problem 1: allow the user the ability to customize the maximum size of snippets returned with search results. We have huge monitors nowadays; we can make the advanced search window itself huge; why not allow for the ability to make the search result snippets really long, too? Or at least longer than they are now?
Solution to Problem 2: allow the user to customize where the search term occurs within the result snippet. For instance, this could be a finely-grained preference, such as "Search result should be returned with X number of characters/words before/after it" where X is some user-entered number. Or there could be just a coarsely-grained preference, such as, "Search term should occur at the beginning/middle/end of the snippet."
Reason these are needed: often, a snippet is informative only if you have a certain amount of surrounding text, or only if you know a certain amount of text that comes before and after the term you searched. Presently, however, the search term occurs as the very first, or sometimes second, word of the snippet result. If you wanted to know what came before your search term in order to judge the relevance of a particular search hit, the snippet becomes unhelpful. In such cases, you have no other option but to click over to the document to get your context and then back to your search window to jump to the next result. But then, if you do that, it negates the point of having that result snippet. Such clicking back and forth between search result window and document window might not sound like much, but when your search results number in the hundreds, this clicking-back-and-forth procedure makes your work very inefficient; in a large publishing or indexing project, you might need to perform thousands of advanced searches, each with dozens or hundreds of hits. In such situations, the time-saving potential of implementing this request becomes apparent.