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 Continue reading

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. As Continue reading

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

Elastic acquires Swiftype and broadens its offering to include enterprise search

The news today that Elastic (the company behind the open source Elasticsearch software) has acquired Swiftype will have surprised a few people, even though Elastic has already acquired a good number of other companies. Swiftype have a couple of products that deliver cloud-based site and enterprise search and under the hood, all of this is built on Elasticsearch.Ā  Swiftype are part of a new ...Continue reading

It’s not just about technology – training for search managers is vital

A few weeks ago I sat in on a workshop in London at the Taxonomy Boot Camp conference, run by Jeff Fried of BA Insight. I've known Jeff for many years from various events and we share some views on how search systems should be built and managed - using best-of-breed technology and effective management processes. He was kind enough to ask me to join a recent podcast. During the podcast, we had a great conversation about open source search, enterprise...Continue reading

Worth the wait – Apache Kafka hits 1.0 release

We've known about Apache Kafka for several years now - we first encountered it when we developed a prototype streaming Boolean search engine for media monitoring with our own library Luwak. Kafka is a distributed streaming platform with some simple but powerful concepts - everything it deals with is a stream ...Continue reading

How to build a search relevance team

We've spent a lot of time working with clients who recognise that their search engine isn't delivering relevant results to users. Often this is seen as solely a technical problem, which can be resolved simply by changing query parameters or the search engine configuration - but technical teams need clear direction on why a result should or should not appear at a certain position, not just request for general relevance improvements. It's thus important to consider relevance as...Continue reading

Announcing our new book, Searching the Enterprise

For the last year or so I've been working with Professor Udo Kruschwitz of the University of Essex on a long-form journal article on enterprise search - although at 156 pages this is more of a book than a journal. Released as part of the Foundations and TrendsĀ® in Information Retrieval series by Now Publishing, the b...Continue reading