Building high-end search features at low cost with Apache Solr

One of the best things about the increased use of open source search technology is that features that were previously unattainable for clients with small budgets are now within reach. Our client Bride and Groom Direct, a UK-based business selling wedding gifts and stationery, asked us if we could help improve the search features on their website and in particular the auto-suggest - and they asked us to take a look at the website of US mega-reta...Continue reading

Phony wars: the battle between Solr and Elasticsearch

The most well known open source search engine, Apache Lucene/Solr, has a rival in Elasticsearch, also based on Apache Lucene. Or maybe it doesn't. I'm not convinced that there's an actual battle going on here, above and beyond the fact that the commercial companies formed to support each technology (Lucidworks and Elasticsearch [...Continue reading

New Year predictions: further search storms ahead!

2012 has been a fascinating and stormy year for those of us in the search business. We've seen a raft of further acquisitions of commercial closed source search companies by bigger players, some convinced that what used to be called Enterprise Search is now a solution to Big Data (like Stephen Arnold we wonder what will succeed Big Data as the next marketing term - I love his phrase "In a quest for revenue, the vendo...Continue reading

Autonomy & HP – a technology viewpoint

I'm not going to comment on the various financial aspects of the recent news about HP's write-down of the value of its Autonomy acquisition - others are able to do this far better than me - but I would urge anyone interested to re-read the documents Oracle released earlier this year. However, I am going to write about the IDOL technology itself (I'd ...Continue reading

Eleven years of open source search

It's now eleven years since we started Flax (initially as Lemur Consulting Ltd) in late July 2001, deciding to specialise in search application development with a focus on open source software. At the time the fallout from the dotcom crash was still evident and like today the economic picture was far from rosy. Since few people even knew what a search engine was (Google was relatively new and had only started selling advertising a year...Continue reading

Building bridges in the Cloud with open source search

We've just published a case study on our work for C Spencer Ltd., a UK-based civil engineering company who take a pro-active approach to document management - instead of taking the default Sharepoint route or buying another product off the shelf, they decided to create their own in-house system based on open source components, hosted on the Amazon AWS Cloud. We've helped them integrate Continue reading

The Times they are a-changing….

News International have announced they will be charging for access to their Times and Sunday Times newspaper websites within a few months. At the same time we have the announcement that the Independent newspaper is to be bought by a Russian oligarch, and may end up as a free publication. This divergence of business models is interesting, but what concerns us at Flax is how ...Continue reading

Search requirements and asking the right questions

When we're contacted by potential clients, we have to gather as much information as possible about how and why they need search technology. This either takes the form of a physical or telephone meeting and much scribbling in notebooks, or a long exchange of emails. In all cases there are some important questions that must be answered, and I thought it might be useful to list the most common ones here: How many items do you need to search? The number of items to search varies w...Continue reading