Boosts Considered Harmful – adventures with badly configured search

During a recent client visit we encountered a common problem in search - over-application of 'boosts', which can be used to weight the influence of matches in one particular field. For example, you might sensibly use this to make results that match a query on their title field come higher in search results. However in this case we saw huge boost values used (numbers in the hundreds) which were probably swamping everything else - and it wasn't at all clear where the values had come from, be it ex...Continue reading

Can we fix your Solr or Elasticsearch system in a single day?

Here at Flax, we're often called in to take a look at existing Apache Solr or Elasticsearch search applications, to suggest improvements, tune-ups or enhancements. It's impossible for us to know ahead of time what we might find - out-of-date versions of the software, slow performance on either (or both) the indexing or search side of the application ...Continue reading

XJoin for Solr, part 2: a click-through example

In my last blog post, I demonstrated how to set up and configure Solr to use the new XJoin search components we've developed for the BioSolr project, using an example from an e-commerce setting. This time, I'll show...Continue reading

Out and about in search & monitoring – Autumn 2015

It's been a very busy few months for events - so busy that it's quite a relief to be back in the office! Back in late November I travelled to Vienna to speak at the FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress with our client Infomedia about how we've helped them to migrate their media monitoring platform from the elderly, unsupported and hard to scale Continue reading

Quepid & Flax – if you’re not testing your search, you’re doing it wrong!

Earlier this year an e-commerce company asked us to look into how they should improve how they tested their website search queries. A relatively simple task you might think - but the company concerned has a turnover of over a billion pounds with at least half of this via digital channels, so measuring how well search works is essential to preserve revenue. Like (I suspect) many others, they were recording the results of thousands of test searches, carried out manually by their s...Continue reading

Talks: Replacing Autonomy IDOL with Solr, Elasticsearch for e-commerce & relevancy tuning

I'll be speaking at several events over the next few weeks, in the UK and abroad. On the 19th of November I'll be at the FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress in Vienna, to talk about how we helped our client Infomedia migrate from a closed-source search engine (Autonomy IDOL and Verity) to a new platform based on Apache L...Continue reading