Lucene Solr London: Search Quality Testing and Search Procurement

Mimecast were our kind hosts for the latest London Lucene/Solr Meetup (and even provided goodie bags). It’s worth repeating that we couldn’t run these events without the help of sponsors and hosts and we’re always very grateful (and keep those offers coming!).

First up was Andrea Gazzarini presenting a brand new framework for search quality testing. Designed for offline measurement, Rated Ranking Evaluator is an open source Java library (although it can be used from other languages). It uses a heirarchical model to arrange queries into query groups (all queries in a query group should be producing the same results). Each test can run across a number of search engine configuration versions and outputs results in JSON format – but these can also be translated into Excel spreadsheets, PDFs or sent to a server that provides a live console showing how search quality is affected by a search engine configuration change. Although aimed at Elasticsearch and Solr, the platform is extensible to any underlying search engine. This is a very useful tool for search developers and joins Quepid and Searchhub’s recently released search analytics acquisition library in the ‘toolbox’ for relevance engineers. You can see Andrea’s slides here.

Martin White spoke next on how open source search solutions fare in corporate procurements for enterprise search. This was an engaging talk from Martin , showing the scale of the opportunities for open source platforms with budgets of several million pounds being common for enterprise search projects. However, as he mentioned it can be very difficult for procurement departments to get information from vendors and ‘the last thing you’ll know about a piece of enterprise software is how much it will cost’. He detailed how open source solutions often compare badly against closed source commercial offerings due to it being hard to see the ‘edges’ – e.g. what custom development will be necessary to fulfil enterprise requirements. Although the opportunities are clear, it seems open source based solutions still have a way to go to compete. You can read more from Martin on this subject in the recent free Search Insights report.

Thanks to Mimecast and both speakers – we’ll be back after the summer with another Meetup!

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