Introducing a New Way to Search for Components

You’ve always been able to search for specific MPNs on Octopart, the search engine for electronic components. Today, we’re unveiling an entirely new parametric search system designed specifically to help engineers find the right part without knowing the MPN. If you know a keyword, a set of technical specs, or general type of component, Octopart’s enhanced parametric search features will help you find the best parts, independent of any one distributor’s offerings.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Faster Category Navigation
    • Our brand new category system is easily accessible at all times in the top bar. This lets you see the entire category tree so you can learn about the types of parts available on Octopart and see the relationships between parts.
    • We developed a new algorithm that identifies the categories most relevant to your search query and suggests refinements, cutting out the noise. Try searching “msp430” — Octopart determines that your search is about Microprocessors and displays relevant microprocessor information. Try searching for “relays” — our new algorithm allows Octopart to show types of relays to narrow your search.
    • Breadcrumbs make it easy to see where you are
  • Smarter Filter Suggestions
    • We also developed a new algorithm to present the technical specifications most relevant to your search at the top of the page. This helps you learn about the important features of the parts in a search — when you’re looking at Op Amps, Octopart shows you that Gain Bandwidth Product, Input Offset Voltage, PSRR, and CMRR are important considerations when choosing an Op Amp.
    • Our in-house electrical engineers developed these spec presentation algorithms based on numerical research and real-world electrical engineering experience.
    • Octopart presents these key technical specs to you in a logical order for making design choices. Try searching for Switches, Chip SMD Resistors, and MOSFETs to see
    • The Specs view has a “Most Relevant” group to present these values first
  • An Improved Filter Dialog
    • Search within a list of text values
    • Now, you can sort by Value or Number of Results
    • Numerical fields are sorted by value to make it easier to scan
    • The bottom left corner shows chosen values so you can see exactly what’s selected
  • Layout: Optimized for Split Screen
    • Use it side by side with Excel or any other tool
    • You can see more columns in Specs view

We spoke to electrical engineers and hobbyists from a variety of industries to learn about the challenges involved in selecting the right component. From these conversations, we identified a few key ways to help you make faster and better informed decisions when selecting a part:

  • Making the whole landscape of parts available and easy to understand
  • Helping you narrow down specific types and technical specs, so you can see how a part fits into your design
  • Presenting the whole range of technical specs and potential filters
  • Sorting results by technical spec, price, and availability

We know you need to find parts even when you’re not sure of the part number and don’t yet understand the available selection of parts. We set out to make Octopart the first and only place you need to go to discover parts, select the right ones, and find pricing and availability, so you don’t need to have an MPN already when you come to our website. For more detail and background on these changes, keep reading.

We learned that one of the most important steps in selecting a part for a design is to see the big picture scope of the electronic components space. As one person said to us, “it can be hard to know what you’re looking for until you see it.” To support this kind of exploration and learning, we added a Categories dropdown in the header of our search engine. From this dropdown, you can see all the kinds of parts Octopart has information for and how they are categorized. In addition, you can always click to the category you need, no matter what page you’re on. Breadcrumbs, now at the top of the page, will show you which category you’ve selected, so you’ll never wonder which set of parts you’re searching across.

categories dropdown

 categories most relevant to your search

Our updated part search interface displays categories that are most relevant to your search to help you narrow down your search. According to many of the engineers we spoke with, it’s incredibly useful both to learn about and to narrow down parts by filtering them by sub-category. We also heard that seeing useful suggestions for categories is key to finding the right part quickly and efficiently. The electrical engineers on our team analyzed the parts in our database and and reclassified them to develop a better way to organize and present them. We also evaluated how to suggest the most relevant and helpful categories to help you narrow down your search results. We developed a whole new algorithm that determines the most helpful suggestions for your searches, which means you can spend less time narrowing your search results and more time on your designs.

technical spec filters

Every engineer we spoke with emphasized that drilling down on parts based on known sets of technical specs is key. In order to support this critical step, we’ve made a few major changes to our spec filters. First, our electrical engineers closely evaluated our technical spec filters and hand picked the right ones to suggest to you based on your search. Now, you can continue to narrow down a search with logical, intelligent suggestions. If you know you need a part with a certain set of specs, you can quickly see what components fit your criteria. If you know a base part number, like MSP430, the specs will change to help you narrow down your search and see how that part fits into its family — saving you time you might have spent reading datasheets or researching the part family. If you don’t see the spec you need, you can access the full list of available filters by clicking on +Filter.

We’re also maximizing the visibility of spec filters by putting them right at the top of the page. Being able to see part specs and values allows you to quickly see and understand the landscape of options for the part that you want. You can sort values by the number of results found or alphabetically/numerically, whichever is most helpful to you.

access the full list of available filters by clicking on +Filter

Many of you use Octopart side by side with Excel or your CAD/PCB design tools. We want to support your workflows, so we removed the sidebar, which had category, technical spec, manufacturer, and distributor filters. Moving these filters to the top of the page helps you see more parts and more information that you need in a narrow window and makes the best use of screen space.

We’ve made some major changes to our search results page to make part information accessible and easy to find, even when you don’t know exactly what you need. Our mission at Octopart has always been to open up part data and be the fastest and easiest independent resource for part information. Now, we’re leveraging that mission to allow you to search in a whole new way.

Search for parts with confidence and spend less time looking for parts and more time focusing on your designs.

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  • Craig Hollabaugh

    Sounds like a start. If you get near the flexiblity of digikey’s search engine, then I’ll switch. Other I find my MPN on digikey and use octopart for selection and pricing.

    BTW, I did a search for MSP430 like you suggested, then restricted my search to parts with 9 I/O pins, returned 6 CPUs with 80+ pins. So, please send this to dev team as a bug.

    • Faye Han

      Craig, thanks so much for your feedback and for finding that discrepancy with the I/O pins. We’ve logged that and will be addressing it as soon as we can. Please let us know if you have any further thoughts, we’d love to hear them!

  • LuLou

    I use a lot of sites with crossover tools. Maybe you could integrate it and charge the manufacturer for advertising. Seeing options while I’m looking for price and availability would be great. Also, a UL rating filter would be excellent.

    • Faye Han

      These are some great suggestions; thanks so much! I’ve flagged these for our product team for consideration. Please let us know if you have any more ideas, we’d be so happy to hear them!

  • Megan

    How can I filter to only show distributors with stock? It used to be an option, but it has disappeared.

    • Faye Han

      Thanks so much for asking! We have received a considerable number of requests to reinstate this feature, and it has been added to our timeline and should become available again soon. Please keep sending us your questions, comments, and feedback!