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

Setting up your first Quepid test case

Quepid is an innovative tool from our partners Open Source Connections, which allows you to bridge the gap between content owners (who really know what's in your search index and how people might search for it) and search developers (who can tweak the search engine to improve relevance, given some examples of 'good' and 'bad' results for a query). We're increasingly using it in...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 It's impossible for us to know ahead of time what we might find - out-of-date versions of the software, slow performance on either (or both) the indexing or search side of the application ...Continue reading

London Lucene Solr Meetup – Enterprising attitudes to open source search & query completion strategies

Last night the London Lucene Solr Meetup was hosted by Elsevier in their Finsbury Square offices. Our first speaker was Martin White, expert consultant, author of many books about enterprise search and intranets and visiting professor at the University of Sheffield (oh, and Fl...Continue reading

Can you make a contribution to Apache Solr core development?

As any regular reader of this blog will be aware, we use almost exclusively open source software on customer projects. To meet their requirements, we often have to extend the functionality of the software (e.g. XJOIN in Solr). As far as possible, with the agreement of the customer, we like to then contribute these changes b...Continue reading

Flax wins contract with NHS Wales to support Apache Solr for Welsh Clinical Portal

We're very pleased to announce that Flax has won a 3-year contract with the NHS Wales Informatics Service to support the Apache Lucene/Solr search engine used by the Welsh Clinical Portal, during which period we'll be backing up the in-house team with our deep experience of Solr. The Welsh Clinical Portal is a classic example of how a search engine ...Continue reading

Choosing between Elasticsearch and Solr

One of the questions we're asked all the time is which of the two most popular open source search engines is best for a particular use case - and the answer is always 'it depends'. Broadly speaking, Apache Lucene/Solr and Elasticsearch are very similar in terms of features and performance. If you've already chosen one of them, there's very few reasons to incur the inevitable extra work of switching to the other. However if you're still not sure which to choose, read on. Solr,...Continue reading

Helping Bloomberg build a real-time news search engine with Luwak

Bloomberg is one of the world's leading providers of financial news via the Bloomberg Terminal, an almost ubiquitous presence on the desks of finance professionals. As you might expect their systems heavily depend on effective search and over the last few years they have become increasingly involved in the open source community, sponsoring events such as Lucene Revolution and also he...Continue reading