Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Attractive Open Source Search Interfaces?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the you'll-have-this-ansi-terminal-and-like-it dept.

GUI 65

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."

cancel ×

65 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Sphinx Search (4, Interesting)

neoform (551705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30755598)

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:Sphinx Search (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30755926)

In fact, Sphinx is used on Slashdot ...

Re:Sphinx Search (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30755966)

In fact, Sphinx is used on Slashdot ...

That's really not the glowing recommendation you thought it would be...

Re:Sphinx Search (4, Insightful)

prestomation (583502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756300)

Right. Slashdot search is HORRIBLE. I've better luck finding old articles with Google

Re:Sphinx Search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756590)

Right. Slashdot search is HORRIBLE. I've better luck finding old articles with Google

Since when have you ever had better luck with a site's own search compared to Google? Unless, of course, the site uses Google as a backend for its own search ;-)

Re:Sphinx Search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30760970)

Right. Slashdot search is HORRIBLE. I've better luck finding old articles with Google

Since when have you ever had better luck with a site's own search compared to Google? Unless, of course, the site uses Google as a backend for its own search ;-)

Since they've used a real search engine, like Lucene, properly. It's very flexible, very robust, and it never hurts to add your own flavor to the mix.

Re:Sphinx Search (2, Funny)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30760430)

Slashdot's search app isn't called Sphinx, it is named Sphincter.

Re:Sphinx Search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756870)

The poster is using Solr as the *engine* and is asking about a good user *interface* (not a different engine, which most everyone is replying with).

Re:Sphinx Search (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30759934)

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 isn't real-time, but Sphinx has features to enable you to keep live indexes active while you reindex. The frequency of re-indexing will obviously depend on how important recency is for your users.

If your content is just text files, I'd consider htdig [htdig.org] as well. While it's no longer being actively maintained, I've used it for years to index web archives of listserver postings with great success.

greenstone.org (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30755624)

... for offline viewing and searching.

Panties (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30755976)

White with a streak of yellow reek
A shitty pink
A most unladylike stink
From a fragant lubricated leak.

KISS (3, Insightful)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:KISS (1)

abulafia (7826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756022)

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:KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30757234)

...never understood why they've been so pissed about it.

they probably didn't go through the worksheet...

Re:KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756526)

Your interface might be simple but how do you propose creating advanced queries? Sure this will solve many of the common use cases however I'm sure the poster has already implemented the above.

Now, given your search interface:
  - How would a user intuitively restrict by several criteria?
  - How about restricting to a certain hierarchy or different classifications within the system?
  - What if I only want to retrieve document files?

Incomplete or useless search results are a bigger aggravation than a few additional inputs. Providing an advanced search mechanism seems to be the aim of this post so why contribute nothing but the obvious? You post getting modded insightful is a joke.

Re:KISS (1)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757194)

My point is that it works for google and google allows advanced queries very nicely. You shouldn't give the user too many choices that they likely will never need.

You can easily add special 'keyword: value' pairs that the query parser can recognize which can provide all of the features you needed.

Examples:
opening file crashes project: word
long load times type: defect
sales report doctype: xls

How to use these keywords should be specified in a help or advanced page.

As you said, the simple interface will solve many common use cases, and the more advanced use cases can be easily solved by adding a few extra keywords. Ideally the search engine shouldn't need these additional keywords the vast majority of the time and should organize the results with the ones the user most likely wants at the top.

Re:KISS (3, Insightful)

shish (588640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757446)

My point is that it works for google and google allows advanced queries very nicely

Google also has hundreds of the world's best computer scientists working on natural language parsing techniques, and they still need a load of documentation [google.com] saying "if you want to use this function, please type your query according to this specific format" (which is no better than having separate input boxes IMO; in fact for the advanced search [google.com] that's exactly what they do)

Re:KISS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30757348)

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

Re:KISS (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757470)

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. :)

Re:KISS (1)

PaladinAlpha (645879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30759900)

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 the documentation? How long are you prepared to spend debugging?

Carpenters, even in the modern age, don't want hammers with swappable heads, or electronically adjusting wrenches. They just want a normal hammer, and a normal wrench. People who use computers don't want or need pages and pages of options. People who want less are not somehow better -- but people who are somehow better typically want less.

Re:KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758744)

Just don't put a

in there, or you will be in for a world of legal trouble

Flamenco? (0, Offtopic)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30755692)

You'd probably want to get the Tapas [wikipedia.org] addon.

Why bother with open source? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30755772)

Open source software is typically more complex, hard to use, hard to setup, hard to understand, poorly supported and poorly implemented than closed source software. This has been proven time and time again (Linux vs OS X/Windows7, GIMP vs Photoshop, etc).

You would be better off going with a closed source solution such as Wrensoft Zoom.

Re:Why bother with open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756386)

Market share hardly proves your platitude about complexity.

Re:Why bother with open source? (2, Insightful)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757108)

I wouldn't say that GIMP is more complex than Photoshop. I've tried using Photoshop, and it looks like an unorganized muddle of garbage to me. I *get* GIMP, though.

Linux is just another Unix, but thankfully, a bit more modern and progressive than many of the others. It's as complex as it needs to be, and no more....that's not taking into account the various windowing environments of various qualities (although Windows 7's interface reminds me more of Gnome than it does Windows XP, somehow).

Then again, maybe I'm weird. My two cents.

Windows Live Search is free!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30755792)

It is free and in you wish you could be free of it. Just like the search in Windows Vista I find myself screaming at the damn thing saying "I see the files in the window next to my search window and you goddam thing is still not finding it!!!!! WTF windows!" I Loathe the way it runs an extra process to "re-index" the "search database" on you hard drive ALL the bloody time. So you computer goes 10% slower so if can shave off 20 seconds the next time you search you "My Documents" folder for an old Word Doc. Meanwhile you end up losing 20 minutes a day in productivity because you system runs slow as hell.

I have learned when doing Windows XP updates when I rebuild a friend's computer to check the "Never show this update again" in the windows update screen. I just wish there was a button labeled "Complain to Windows development about this feature and why it sucks".

Re:Windows Live Search is free!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30755886)

amen to that!

Re:Windows Live Search is free!!!! (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756084)

Contrary to popular belief, Ask Slashdot, even when asking questions about Open Source free alternatives, is not an open invitation to bash Microsoft.
Please rephrase your comment in the form of something helpful.

We express our sincerest apologies for the confusion.

Anonymously,

Mr. Coward

Re:Windows Live Search is free!!!! (3, Funny)

mustafap (452510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756402)

>I just wish there was a button labeled "Complain to Windows development about this feature and why it sucks".

There is, it's the "Buy" button next to a Mac on the Apple website.

Wish I had the money to burn for one of those babies

Re:Windows Live Search is free!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756680)

NICE TRY

agawegrsfsdfasefawef

Re:Windows Live Search is free!!!! (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757134)

Well, the OSX license agreement says that it can only be installed on an "Apple-labeled" device. My interpretation of that is to put an Apple sticker on the side of a Hackintosh.

Re:Windows Live Search is free!!!! (1)

JonJ (907502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30761852)

It says "Apple-branded", i.e a machine that Apple has branded with... Well, an Apple. Not one that you've slapped a sticker on.

Did I just see (-1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30755864)

Did I just see "attractive" and "open source" in the same sentence?

How about Sphider? (3, Interesting)

pbulteel73 (559845) | more than 4 years ago | (#30755940)

I found Sphider [sphider.eu] and it fulfills my needs. -P

Re:How about Sphider? (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757080)

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.

Yahoo IBM OmniFind Product (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756070)

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

Re:Yahoo IBM OmniFind Product (1)

lacourem (966180) | more than 4 years ago | (#30759714)

Seconded. Uses a Lucene backend that you are using now, just import your indexes and away you go.

Swish-E (2, Informative)

ccandreva (409807) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756106)

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

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

Re:Swish-E (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30761586)

I've used Swish in it's variants since it was an alternative to WAIS. http://www.swish-e.org/ [swish-e.org]

"Swish, the first openly gay search interface! It not only returns hits faster than the other search interfaces, it does it with more pizazz."

Um.. (1, Funny)

wumpus188 (657540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30756398)

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

What sort of database? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Card Catalog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30756906)

I hear card catalogs are coming back in style.

Clustering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30757014)

Perhaps you could look into clustering engines. Carrot2 is one. There is also a clustering engine built into Solr 1.4

How about... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757330)

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

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

Carrot2 - Search Results Clustering Engine (1)

fak3r (917687) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757888)

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.

GUI showcase (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757920)

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.

Re:GUI showcase (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30760530)

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)

Re:GUI showcase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30761712)

You mean GUI's like on CSI Miami? The terrible Sci-Fi UI what finds everything from everything. You only need to place a evidence top of class table and it finds fingerprints, cells, gases, metals... all and informs right away what does not belong to that thing. You place a cellphone or a letter to that table and it scans and reads all data from them, without scanners or other things.
Then they just stand there and they use the whole interface with voice commands "Tell who is last person who used this knife" and you can see everything from suspected person even from the time when they use bathroom or when they had a sex.

You mean those?

busybox ash script (1)

technosaurus (1704630) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758270)

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 (1)

hweimer (709734) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758488)

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

YUI is nice for building user interfaces. (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758860)

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.

Data Search Interface (1)

aharth (412459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30759202)

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.

Re:Data Search Interface (1)

RicRoc (41406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30762194)

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?

Re:Data Search Interface (1)

aharth (412459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30840246)

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 CSS for adding a logo or changing the look and feel.
We've developed VisiNav as part of a research project, and the university owns (and manages) the IP. I guess they will make it available free of charge for educational and research organisations, but commercial applications would require a license.

Use DBSight Free version (1)

chrislusf (900701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30759986)

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.

modify source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30760992)

Well, considering Lucene is the actual search engine and Solr is the interface, and considering both are open source, I would suggest modifying Solr to fit your needs. Or Lucene if your needs are more fundamental. It's not overly complex, and if you're willing to spend a few hours tracking the logic of the code and reading some documentation, you never know what you might come away with.

Twigkit: Not quite open source ... (1)

cliftonc (1720764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30761512)

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 the crappy prototype one we had managed to build!

Wikia search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30761718)

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikia_Search [wikipedia.org] .

It had a very sexy AJAX interface.

take a look at cms solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30762062)

Albeit much more than simple search-engine frontends, you will find that there are many that sport nice interfaces to the SOLR serach engine - and you get the cms as a bonus. eZPublish is such an example

Open Source Solr-powered Search UI (1)

ehatcher (1721082) | more than 4 years ago | (#30763842)

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.

Re:Open Source Solr-powered Search UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30780048)

As Eric Hatcher wrote in his link, AJAX Solr is one option you might investigate for building out a search interface. http://wiki.github.com/evolvingweb/ajax-solr/ [github.com] This library offers you the full power of Solr, which you can package into JavaScript widgets, whether it be a timeline or calendar widget to filter by date, a map widget to filter by location, or anything else. The limit is just your proficiency at JavaScript and your ability to leverage existing JavaScript solutions. Here's an online demo: http://evolvingweb.github.com/ajax-solr/examples/reuters/index.html [github.com]

Ontopia (1)

PensivePeter (1104071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30764484)

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 its nature, offers a user interface that allows user to intuitively move from subject to subject

good search UX is a process (1)

searchtools (7273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30773084)

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 may be OK because they're checking for the absence of something. You can also look at what are the top queries and the top kinds of queries: maybe they really want to segment by assembly district: that's a great use for faceted metadata.

Then you can use the standard UI tools like sketches and wireframes to expand the search form for their needs. They may want to search for nicknames or maiden names, who knows? I don't, but they do.

It's an iterative process involving content coverage, back-end search functionality, and client-side interfaces, but when you do it right, it just hums :-)

Try AJAXSolr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30782512)

Sounds like you should check out AJAXSolr, formerly SolrJS:
http://evolvingweb.github.com/ajax-solr/

Also, for anyone reading this and thinking about an out-of-the-box search engine that spiders and searches, check out nutch:
http://lucene.apache.org/nutch/
Also see http://www.dataparksearch.org/ for a pre-built version that works in Windows.

MnoGoSearch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30783136)

Try http://www.mnogosearch.org/

I have used it many times, highly flexible and free for *nix.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?