Finding French TV with Flax

We've recently been working with mySkreen, who like Hulu in the U.S. provide a service for finding and viewing television programs via your web browser. mySkreen is the brainchild of Frédéric Sitterlé, previously Head of New Media at the Le Figaro media group. mySkreen works with French-language content, and is currently indexing over 1.6 million programmes (and counting). Using F...Continue reading

Replacing relational databases with search engines for simple lookups

One of the things we often notice about existing systems based on relational databases (RDB) is that as they scale to millions of items, simple lookup tasks become slow and inefficient. These tasks don't usually require complicated database operations, so in most cases it is possible to relocate the data from the RDB into a search engine like Flax. Consider a system where a search engine has already been implemented to search textual product information, but numerical data on each product, such...Continue reading

Enterprise search – for free

We recently helped a small marine consultancy, running a Windows network, implement a completely free enterprise search solution. Even SMEs are now finding it hard to keep on top of the information they produce, and there are few low-cost options for searching their documents. Read the case study here (PDF). ...Continue reading

Flax Search Service alpha release

The Flax team are pleased to announce the alpha release of Flax Search Service (FSS). FSS combines powerful, high-level indexing and search features with a well-designed Web Services interface. FSS is Open Source software (under the MIT licence) and is available as a free download from Google Code. Web Services and Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their many advantages. FSS provides...Continue reading

Flax stack and pre-built binaries

We've updated the Flax website with a page showing the Flax software stack - hopefully this will go some way towards explaining how Xapian, Xappy and parts of Flax all fit together. There's still lots in development so expect some more news later this month. As part of this, we've created a new page bringing together all the Win32 files for Xapian that we maintain - including some pre-built binaries for those of you who don't want to compile Xapian yourself. We're working on creating one-clic...Continue reading

More on performance metrics

Anurag Goel recently carried out a comparitive test of Xapian/Flax and Lucene/Solr. Some interesting results here: it seems Lucene is faster at building indexes, but Xapian is faster and possibly more accurate at searching. We can expect some further speed improvements over the next few months as a new, more compact backend to Xapian is released. By the way, the article mentions Xappy: this is a Python interface to Xapian that is a major part of our Flax enterprise search platform. You can ge...Continue reading

Image searching

Searching images is a difficult problem, and it's not a feature offered by many commercial search engines. Some will cheat slightly, by indexing the title or filename of the image, or the text surrounding an image embedded on a page, and call this 'image search' - but this method doesn't work very well, especially when you have a standalone image called 'IMG0000064.jpg' which is actually a picture of an apple. We've seen some good demos of actual image search - I...Continue reading