If you want to read about the background of the WPSearch Search plug-in for WordPress, read below. But if you just want the gist of this post, here it is:
WPSearch is the best search plug-in for your WordPress blog. It is a stemming, stop-word blocking, fast, relevant, fulltext search for WordPress. There isn’t a single plug-in in the WordPress repository that can do what it does.
You can get it here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wpsearch/ — or just install it through the WordPress plugin administration backend. Just search for WPSearch.
If you run any sort of monetized blog, you might be losing sales or readership if users can’t find what they need on your site. According to Adotas, 43% of users hit the search box first.
I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty vocal already about WordPress’ lacking search functionality. I’ve been vocal about it for 2 years, and it was the original impetus to get this blog up and running. It was also the reason that I wrote wpSearch, the original version of WPSearch — the lucene-based search plug-in for WordPress. wpSearch was the first true fulltext search for WordPress, in my opinion.
But the problem with wpSearch was that it wasn’t highly engineered. I had written it for a programming contest, and I was on a tight deadline — and when projects are rushed, the quality of code goes down. And because of that, bugs made their way out of the woodwork over the next two years.
Consumed by college work and my job, I didn’t have much time to address those issues. In fact, I had declared wpSearch unsupported a year after it was released in 2009.
A year following that, Daniel Hay at Pixelberry in New Zealand had requested that I add the ability of searching within a category for a client of his. That’s when WPSearch 2 development began.
I wanted to give wpSearch a full rewrite, and correct several mistakes I made with the first version:
- Rename it from wpSearch to WPSearch
- Change the listing name in the WordPress repository to WP Search, so searches for ‘search’ would bring it up
- Follow and MVC pattern (it’s a complex plug-in)
- Build a configurable search driver framework, so any driver could be written to search and index
- Build better logging
- Evangelize it to no end (wpSearch was barely promoted)
- Give it a UI independent of the default WordPress stylesheets, and also make it stylish
The biggest change is the configurable driver part. The free version of WPSearch contains a driver that uses Zend Lucene in the background. Any driver, however, can be written to work with WPSearch. Drivers for SOLR, sphinx, the Google Search Appliance, or name-your-own-search-product could be written.
I did that because PHP is not the best language to write a search engine in. Since Zend_Search_Lucene is the backend driver of the free version, there is an upper-bound of scalability on the plug-in. After all PHP is a scripting language, and I doubt Zend ever really imagined someone would make the ludicrous decision of indexing tens of thousands of posts in PHP. I found the breaking point to be about 20,000 docs. At that point, I ran into memory issues, slow mid-indexing optimizations, and slow first-hit (non-cached) searches.
So the point is that I poured everything I had into WPSearch 2, and I want to tell everyone about it. I did this project under the umbrella of OConf, my start-up, with business partner John Crepezzi. John’s an ex-engineer at Sun Microsystems, and he spends his days at Patch.com now. He also wrote the backend driver for WPSearch Pro, an alternate driver for WPSearch 2 which can handle up to 500,000 docs.
John and I gave a talk at Wordcamp NYC, where we officially launched WPSearch 2.The topic was on the default WordPress search, and why avoiding a remedy to it can lose you both readers and money. If you run a shopping engine, people can’t find your products. If you run a news site, readers can’t find your content.
If you don’t think people even use the search box — heads up, the advertising gurus at Adotas say 43% of users who find your site do.
You can check it out here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wpsearch/ . In it’s short time in the repository (about 9 days), it’s already had around 1,000 downloads, and I’ve had a lot of positive feedback coming in. I also dropped a comment about it on WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg’s site, where he mentioned a search product for Drupal. Hopefully he’ll check it out and let me know what he thinks.
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