I see no reason why the search should be case sensitive. My logic is that if fred will match freddy, then surely fred should match Fred. I feel that a case insensitive search tool would be more user friendly
In my opionion, this is clearly a design choice. What is "exactly" for you? If it includes being case sensitive, then that's it. Otherwise, then the case doesn't matter. In my opinion, in the real world, if you search for "fred", "fRed", or "Fred", you just want to see the result that has this word, not mattering the case. So, does "fred" matches "Fred"? In my opionion, yes. Just document your decision, and don't forget to put it in the user's manual too. [ March 29, 2008: Message edited by: Roberto Perillo ]
For my search, I adopted someone else's ideas and instead of including a text box where the user can type in search parameters, I created a drop-down prepopulated with all possible permutations. Then I don't need to do any validation and its guaranteed to be an "exact match".
Yes, I realize it's not scalable. I've documented that, and I'm not sure that it's otherwise significant. It certainly makes for an extremely user friendly UI.