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Use of swish-e in BaBar high energy physics exp.

From: Douglas Smith <douglas(at)not-real.SLAC.Stanford.EDU>
Date: Tue Apr 15 2003 - 20:30:34 GMT
Hello All-

Just a note of thanks, from the BaBar high energy physics
experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.  After
several months of testing various search engine tech's, and
getting into discussion with Inktomi and Google, we have
found something which is making people happy: swish-e.

We have now started to use swish-e to index and search all
internal communications for the experiment, and people are
finally getting happy with the search engine.  This has 
been a problem for quite some time now, since the amount
of communication killed ht-dig, and we have been limping
along with Inktomi for over a year, but no one liked it.

With the release of Swish-e 2.2, there was finally something
that we could use.  Thank you all, this is now in production
use, and happily indexing and searching the 150,000 internal
postings to discussion groups.  It also proved to be so much
faster than other engines we have been able to up the update
time to every 15mins (and it could probably handle every 
5mins), and with the ability to re-write the web interface
I have been able to give people more features in searching than
we could in the past.

I am now looking into swish-e use for the experimental web
pages, and see if we can get rid of Inktomi use and then 
probably stop our discussions with Google.  Thanks all-

There are a few issues in getting this to work that have
come up:

1. The system is almost too flexible to start, perhaps there
should be a simpler install to get started?  In the end I
am using almost all the latest features and need them, but
as part of eval. different indexing tech's it too a little
while to understand swish-e and get something useful out 
of it.  And since it is an eval. I need something useful
quickly so I can see if searching the produced index actually
produces something people can use.

2. Is there a way people can influence the ranking of pages?
Like through a meta tag there could be a ranking factor included?
This was noticed that it would be nice to make initial posting
to a discussion forum more important in ranking than replies.
Also in search the web it would be nice for people to be able
to decide what was the most important page, and include a meta
tag to increase that page in ranking.  I think I saw this is
discussion in 2.4 features perhaps, but I am not sure if I
saw it the 2.2.3 features.

3. The ranking on word in context work very well, and people so
far are able to get the correct page back quickly.  But is 
there more work being done on ranking?  Like influencing the
ranking by number of other pages in a search that link to that
page.  I mean if a lot of pages in a search rank link to one
page, then that page should be considered higher in rank.

4. Love the perldoc documentation, I needed all of it.  Love 
the filter and replace on path features, in the end I used
almost of them to restrict and tune the index creation.  I was
able to save hours of time in creating the index.

5. To update the site quickly I created a second inc. update
index.  This also gets merged into the larger index in a 
periodic manner, and after this merge the index doesn't exist
until the next update.  This would produce an error with your
current swish.cgi and swish-e search, since I am asking for
an index which doesn't exist.  I changed the swish.cgi such
that it accepts multiple indexes for searching, but checks 
on their existence before passing the list onto the swish-e
executable, so there is no error.  Is this a feature which
perhaps should be added to the swish.cgi or even swish-e, if
there are multiple index for search, ignore one if it is not
there instead of producing an error?

Ok, I think this is enough.  Anyway in the end, thanks, swish-e
was able to answer a problem people had around here for over a
year, and many people are now happy that were very frustrated.


Douglas A. Smith        
Office: Bld 280, Rm 157                       (650)926-2369
Received on Tue Apr 15 20:34:24 2003