Saturday, January 30

Starting over: A platform for quick search prototyping

I'm starting a new project. We're building a prototype search system, so we want it to be quick and simple. This started me thinking about options...

In the past, I built RecipeComun using PHP and Java running on top of Quercus inside a Java application server. However, that's a relatively heavy-weight solution.

Now, I would likely build it or something similar with a Ruby on Rails frontend UI. For an initial prototype I would index with SOLR and integrate the two with BlackLight, Solr Flare, or just straight RSolr. For a facet engine on top of Lucene, I think Bobo-Browse from LinkedIn is an interesting alternative to Solr.

Anyone else have different ideas?

Update: I tried installing Ruby/Blacklight on my Windows laptop. I don't recommend this. It needs Linux (for compiling some of the native dependencies used by the ruby libraries). You can work around it with Cygwin with enough effort, I think, but will not be trying.


  1. Jeff,

    Have you looked at Django? It's a python based web framework and has an application that integrates with Solr very nicely. It's called Solango.

    Check it out.

    I use this a lot for various projects.


  2. Haystack ( is a module for adding search capabilities to a Django application. It's somehow an "ORM for search", since it provides an unified API for different backends (SOLR, Xapian, Whoosh) and is integrated with the models of your existing app.

    It's easy to use and well documented and it has support for relatively complex operations such as faceting. Have a look at it, maybe you find it useful.

  3. Anonymous4:11 PM EST

    I know that Sphinx (based on C++) is considered a viable option when implementing search functionality in RoR, although I implemented indexing/searching myself for my own research project.

  4. Thanks for the ideas. It looks like the Ruby vs. Python debate continues to rage.

    We just need something quick out of the box for this project; we'll swap out the backend search for a research system later.

  5. Heroku+websolr+sunspot. I'm a little biased tho.