Open source search evening – ElasticSearch, Xapian and GSoC

Last night there was a small gathering in Cambridge of open source search engine developers and enthusiasts. Richard Boulton hosted the event and began with an introduction to elasticsearch, which is an “Open Source (Apache 2), Distributed, RESTful, Search Engine built on top of Lucene”. Richard told us about how this system attempts to make prototyping and building search systems easier by automatically guessing data schemas, offering a powerful, heirarchical ‘query language’ and automatically distributing the search load. Richard’s conclusions were that although elasticsearch is not as mature as Apache Solr it is certainly a project to consider: however development is rapid and documentation is not easy to find. We’ll watch this project with interest.

Olly Betts next told us about various Xapian projects running as part of this year’s Google Summer of Code; this led into a discussion of Learning to Rank and how this might be implemented in practical terms. It’s great to see these cutting-edge features being added to an open source project.

Thanks to Richard for organising the evening and to all who came.

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