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Attractive Open Source Search Interfaces? 65

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-have-this-ansi-terminal-and-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I work for a company that manages an online database for the political market. We add to this DB daily with updates from a variety of sources and our customers then search through this content via our Solr/Lucene search engine. My problem is, our search interface is a little, well, basic and I would love to know if there are any feature-rich open source alternatives out there. The only one I can find is Flamenco, and while that seems strong on categorisation, that seems to be about the height of it."
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Attractive Open Source Search Interfaces?

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  • Sphinx Search (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:27PM (#30755598) Homepage
    Sphinx Search works quite well, is very fast and can handle very large datasets.. Only down side is the indexes are not live.. http://www.sphinxsearch.com/ [sphinxsearch.com]
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In fact, Sphinx is used on Slashdot ...

    • by yuna49 (905461)

      Here's another vote in favor of Sphinx. I recently was presented with an online shopping site whose search functions were pathetically slow and inaccurate. I replaced these with Sphinx and now get incredibly fast results which are nearly always on target. You'll want to play with the weights assigned to fields and other features to optimize the searches, but if your content is already stored in a MySQL or PostgreSQL database, Sphinx should be one of your top contenders.

      As the parent says, the indexing is

  • greenstone.org (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ... for offline viewing and searching.

  • KISS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Sketch (111112) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hcteks.retsim]> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:29PM (#30755642)
    <form name="search" method="get" action="/search.pl">
        <input type="text" name="q" title="Enter your search terms" />
        <input type="submit" value="Search" title="Submit your search request" />
    </form>

    Anything more complex will probably aggravate your users.
    • by abulafia (7826)

      Thank you! See, I've been using the 1040 for my users' search needs, and boy, for the life of me, I've just never understood why they've been so pissed about it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's only half of the battle. What about results?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      KISS is retarded. Because simplicity does not always equal efficiency. Efficiency equals efficiency. Plain KISS makes you end up with stuff that is too “simple” to be useful, like Clippy, MS Bob, or Notepad. The other extreme is just as stupid, and gives you things like VI and Emacs, with a wall as a learning “curve”.

      The optimum is obvious: Balanced in the middle, relative to the user’s needs. More power when he needs it, less complexity when he doesn’t.

      I, for one, don

      • KISS is retarded. Because simplicity does not always equal efficiency. Efficiency equals efficiency. Plain KISS makes you end up with stuff that is too “simple” to be useful, like Clippy, MS Bob, or Notepad. The other extreme is just as stupid, and gives you things like VI and Emacs, with a wall as a learning “curve”.

        The optimum is obvious: Balanced in the middle, relative to the user’s needs. More power when he needs it, less complexity when he doesn’t.

        I, for one, don’t call anything that does not at least have boolean operations, property fields (like “site:slashdot.org”) and regular expressions a search that fits my needs and level of power.

        Are people who want less somehow better? Or why are they preferred?
        Rhetorical question. I know why they are preferred: Because they are louder, and think they are entitled to get it pre-chewed.

        Also, what is the point of allowing only one way? Nobody is better.
        Add a multiple-choice element, that lets you choose plain text, boolean-enhanced (like google) and full regexps. Makes everyone happy, hurts nobody.

        Maybe next time you don’t apply KISS to your method of searching for a solution. :)

        There is nothing simple about Clippy or MS Bob; those have nothing to do with KISS methodologies. Notepad, on the other hand, is simple, and is very, very useful.

        You are advocating a search box that supports booleans, properties, and regex, with radio buttons to swap between types. Imagine for a moment you are a user hitting that page. What are these buttons for, you might ask. What happens if I select boolean-enhanced and put in a query without boolean operators? What will it default to? Who writes t

  • How about Sphider? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pbulteel73 (559845) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:47PM (#30755940) Homepage
    I found Sphider [sphider.eu] and it fulfills my needs. -P
    • I use Sphider, but dang, the re-indexing function times out every time I try. I have to delete the index and run it as if it were new.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:56PM (#30756070)

    Free solution from Yahoo/IBM -- http://omnifind.ibm.yahoo.net/

    • by lacourem (966180)
      Seconded. Uses a Lucene backend that you are using now, just import your indexes and away you go.
  • Swish-E (Score:3, Informative)

    by ccandreva (409807) <chris@westnet.com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:59PM (#30756106) Homepage

    I've used Swish in it's variants since it was an alternative to WAIS.

    http://www.swish-e.org/ [swish-e.org]

  • Um.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by wumpus188 (657540)

    Just curious, what's 'political market' ? Is it really that bad already?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @05:33PM (#30756582)

    Are you talking about searching web pages or a database and presenting the results as web pages? If the latter, then wht's the database?

  • ...a flatfile with regexps? ;)
    One line per entry, index at the beginning.

    P.S.: No, I‘m not totally serious... or am I? ;)

  • http://project.carrot2.org/ [carrot2.org] This plugin is part of the Nutch app now (which does a nice job of search since it uses Lucene) but I've also used it with Solr. Check it out, it's pretty interesting.
  • What I want is a GUI showcase. A website with GUIs from movies, industrial machines, web pages, etc. I have never seen a good one. Yet I have seen some very cool interfaces over the years. Sometimes you see movies where the police criminal database or whatnot could only have been built with a team of highly paid graphic artists. If anyone knows about this please reply with a link.
    • I wish I could give you a link...because I swear I have seen something like this (or at least a blog that had a reasonable amount of their posts about this)
  • You can write an extremely fast and powerful (b)ash cgi-script using a properly compiled snapshot of busybox (it will call builtin find, sed, grep... which is much faster than calling separate programs) If you run it on a static webpage using busbox httpd as the server it can even be a function within your server script.

    #!/PATH_TO/sh
    search()
    {
    #your code here
    }

    advanced_search()
    {
    #your code here
    }

    restart_server()
    {
    #your code here
    }

  • Hyper Estraier [osreviews.net] has a Google-like interface that has some additional features such as including regular expressions in your queries.

  • YUI [yahoo.com] has a BSD style license and is really nice for building cross browser friendly user interfaces.

    The downside of YUI is that the CSS does not validate as it uses the "holly hack" to do IE specific stuff instead of an if define in the header and a separate IE stylesheet.

    I know people that like blueprint, you might also check out http://www.webdesignbooth.com/10-promising-css-framework-that-worth-a-look/ and see if any of these meet your needs.

  • Hi, there's also VisiNav [deri.org] which lets you assemble complex queries over data, covering keyword search and faceted browsing (as Flamenco) and a bit more (path navigation). Drag and drop UI, where people who don't know facets or path navigation can do keyword search without being distracted. -- Andreas. Disclaimer: I'm one of the developers of VisiNav.
    • by RicRoc (41406)

      VisiNav looks very interesting, with a strong focus on class/object hierarchies that could work well on clean, well-structured data sets -- and may be exactly what the poster needs!

      Could you explain here how to continue with VisiNav past the demo? How would the poster adapt VisiNav to his needs: set up his own system and use his own dataset?

      Is VisiNav a research experiment, an open source project, or a commercial product? What licences is it available with? Is it open source?

      • by aharth (412459)
        Yes, the better the data the better the system will work. However, VisiNav works quite well on relatively scruffy web data due to the integrated ranking component.
        The underlying data has to be in graph-structured format (in RDF syntax); reasoning, most notably object consolidation, is supported via OWL. Once the data is indexed, users can search and browse right away. There's no configuration needed, because the ordering of data is done based on the calculated ranks. The UI can be configured via XSLT and
  • Although non open source, it's free version has most of the features. http://www.dbsight.net/ [dbsight.net] It also has many more sophisticated features that you can dig out.
  • Disclaimer as I have used these guys recently for a solr search project - but not affiliated in any way - and their product is very good. Twigkit: http://www.twigkit.com/ [twigkit.com] gives you a very slick and simple way to make attractive front ends to solr (or other search engines). For us it was the best of both worlds, as we were able to save by leveraging solr, but then add the stuff these guys brought to the table to really round the whole thing off. In a couple of days they gave us a very slick UI that killed
  • I've posted a blog entry in response to this topic here: http://www.lucidimagination.com/blog/2010/01/14/solr-search-user-interface-examples/ [lucidimagination.com] There are several technologies to tinker with, though it's tough to find UI frameworks that fit ones needs exactly. But there should be plenty of food for thought in my blog entry. Please comment there if you have other technologies worth pointing out to the Solr communities.
  • Although a competitor product, and if it is definitely open source that you are looking for rather than richer-featured proprietary solutions, take a look at Ontopia Open Source, a "subject-centric" alternative to classic text-string based search engines. It uses the ISO 13250 Topic Maps standard which encapsulates all subjects, associations and related data in XML. All engines using the Topic Maps standard are particularly strong in faceted classification, handling complex queries and query classes and, by
  • I agree, Flamenco's faceted metadata is a great way to look at structured data. But Solr has facets, and they're really easy to enable. So that kind of functionality is not really the hard part.

    The really tricky part is finding out what your users need (which is of course not what they say they need).

    Use your search logs: the most important part is seeing what they search for and especially if they have zero results. Talk to them about why: they may have different vocabulary or need something new, or it

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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