Lucene Solr London: Search Quality Testing and Search Procurement

Mimecast were our kind hosts for the latest London Lucene/Solr Meetup (and even provided goodie bags). It's worth repeating that we couldn't run these events without the help of sponsors and hosts and we're always very grateful (and keep those offers coming!). First up was Andrea Gazzarini presenting a brand new framework for search quality testing. Designed for offline m...Continue reading

Defining relevance engineering, part 1: the background

Relevance Engineering is a relatively new concept but companies such as Flax and our partners Open Source Connections have been carrying out relevance engineering for many years. So what is a relevance engineer and what do they do? In this series of blog posts I'll try to explain what I see as a new, emerging and important profession. ...Continue reading

Haystack, the search relevance conference – day 2

Two weeks ago I attended the Haystack relevance conference – I’ve already written about my overall impressions and on the first day's talks but the following are some more notes on the conference sessions. Note that some of the presentations I attended have already been covered in detail...Continue reading

Search Insights 2018 – a free, independent report on search

Over the last 17 years of running Flax I've met many people who loudly profess to be experts in various aspects of the search business. Some have a new product or service to sell, that promises to change the game forever; quite often this turns out to be snake oil or simply a new name for an old solution. Others seem to have arrived suddenly, fully-fledged, enthusiastic to convince us old hands that everything will be different now if we all sign up to their new idea. There's also a small gro...Continue reading

When even the commercial vendors are using it, has open source search won?

There have been some interesting announcements recently which may point to an increasing realisation amongst commercial search firms that an open source model is an essential advantage in today's search market. Coveo have announced that their enterprise search engine can run on an Elasticsearch core, an interesting move for a previously decidedly closed source company. BA Insight, who have previou...Continue reading

No, Elastic X-Pack is not going to be open source – according to Elastic themselves

Elastic are the company founded by the creator of Elasticsearch, Shay Banon. At this time of year they have their annual Elasticon conference in San Francisco and as you might expect a lot of announcements are made during the week of the conference. The major ones to appear this time are that Swiftype, which Elastic acquired last year, has reappeared as Elastic Site Search and that Elastic are opening the code for their commercial X-Pack features. More

Asking the right questions in a Search Audit

We’re often asked to review how our clients use search technology, both open and closed source (although we specialise in the former, we’ve also encountered most of the commercial search engines over the last 16 years). One common mistake is to assume that search is purely a technical problem, and that all issues can be resolved by writing software and changing configurations, or worse by throwing away the old engine and replacing it with a new one at huge expense. More

Inspiring students to work in Open Source Search

I've recently been asked to join the Industrial Advisory Board for the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex and will be talking to students there on Monday 5th February, repeating a similar talk I did last year. The subject is 'Working in Open Source Search' and I'll describe how we founded Flax back in 2001, how we've built, tuned and implemented open source search engines and some of the client projects we've worked on. It's been a fascinating journe...Continue reading