Implement Highlighting

To improve end-user experience, you may want to implement text highlighting. Coveo Headless offers highlighting for the following search elements:

This article explains how to implement highlighting in your Headless search interface.

Highlight Query Suggestions

Let’s assume that you have a SearchBox component that offers clickable suggestions.

Each time you add or delete a character in the search field, Headless performs a querySuggest request to the Search API.

The response includes highlights and may look like this:

{
  "completions" :
  [
    {
      "expression" : "pdf",
      "score" : 1019.0259590148926,
      "highlighted" : "{pdf}",
      "executableConfidence" : 1.0,
      "objectId" : "20c05008-3afc-5f4e-9695-3ec326a5f745"
    }, {
      "expression" : "filetype pdf",
      "score" : 19.025959014892578,
      "highlighted" : "[filetype] {pdf}",
      "executableConfidence" : 1.0,
      "objectId" : "39089349-6e45-5c18-991c-7158143ec468"
    }
  ],
  "responseId" : "9373a3c0-2c5c-4c9d-8adf-8bffd253ae3d"
}

To highlight query suggestions, update the target SearchBox controller instance as shown in the following code.

import {SearchBox as HeadlessSearchBox, buildSearchBox} from '@coveo/headless';
import {headlessEngine} from '../engine';
import {FunctionComponent, useEffect, useState} from 'react';
export const searchBox = buildSearchBox(headlessEngine, { (1)
  options: {
    highlightOptions: {
      notMatchDelimiters: {
        open: '<strong>',
        close: '</strong>',
      },
      correctionDelimiters: {
        open: '<i>',
        close: '</i>',
      },
    },
  },
});
interface SearchBoxProps {
  controller: HeadlessSearchBox;
}
const suggestionStyle = {
  cursor: 'pointer',
};
export const SearchBox: FunctionComponent<SearchBoxProps> = (props) => {
  const {controller} = props;
  const [state, setState] = useState(controller.state);
  useEffect(() => controller.subscribe(() => setState(controller.state)), [
    controller,
  ]);
  return (
    <div className="search-box">
      <input
        value={state.value}
        onChange={(e) => controller.updateText(e.target.value)}
        onKeyDown={(e) => e.key === 'Enter' && controller.submit()}
      />
      {state.suggestions.length > 0 && ( (2)
        <ul>
          {state.suggestions.map((suggestion) => {
            return (
              <li
                style={suggestionStyle}
                key={suggestion.rawValue}
                onClick={() => controller.selectSuggestion(suggestion.rawValue)}
                dangerouslySetInnerHTML={{__html: suggestion.highlightedValue}} (3)
              ></li>
            );
          })}
        </ul>
      )}
    </div>
  );
};
1 Adds the highlighting delimeters during initialization of a SearchBox controller instance (see SuggestionHighlightingOptions). If you use valid HTML tags as shown in this example, Headless interprets them as tags rather than as regular text.
2 Adds a condition on showing a bulleted list of suggestions (if any).
3 Applies highlighting to the suggestions. The highlighting depends on responses from the Search API.

Highlight Result Elements

Highlighting for the result elements operates a bit differently, but it applies the same approach as for the SearchBox component. You can specify what and how you want to highlight using the highlightString method.

For example, you can highlight the excerpts in your result list as shown below.

import {
  Result,
  ResultList as HeadlessResultList,
  buildResultList,
  HighlightUtils, (1)
} from '@coveo/headless';
import {headlessEngine} from '../engine';
import {FunctionComponent, useEffect, useState} from 'react';
export const resultList = buildResultList(headlessEngine);
interface ResultListProps {
  controller: HeadlessResultList;
}
export const ResultList: FunctionComponent<ResultListProps> = (props) => {
  const {controller} = props;
  const [state, setState] = useState(controller.state);
  useEffect(() => controller.subscribe(() => setState(controller.state)), [
    controller,
  ]);
  if (!state.results.length) {
    return <div>No results</div>;
  }
  const highlightExcerpt = (result: Result) => { (2)
    return HighlightUtils.highlightString({
      content: result.excerpt,
      highlights: result.excerptHighlights,
      openingDelimiter: '<strong>',
      closingDelimiter: '</strong>',
    });
  };
  return (
    <div className="result-list">
      <ul>
        {state.results.map((result) => (
          <li key={result.uniqueId}>
            <article>
              <h2>{result.title}</h2>
              <p
                dangerouslySetInnerHTML={{
                  __html: highlightExcerpt(result), (3)
                }}
              ></p>
            </article>
          </li>
        ))}
      </ul>
    </div>
  );
};
1 Imports the HighlightUtils module so you can use the highlightString method in your component.
2 Creates a custom function that returns the value of the highlightString method, which requires the following arguments:
  • content, the element to highlight

  • highlights, an object with highlights

  • openingDelimiter, a string representing the opening delimiter

  • closingDelimiter, a string representing the closing delimiter

3 Inserts an excerpt with highlighted strings right after the title.
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