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Solr 1.4 Enterprise Search Server Paperback – August 19, 2009
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Born to code, David Smiley is a senior software engineer, book author, conference speaker, and instructor. He has 12 years of experience in the defense industry at MITRE, specializing in Java and Web technologies. David is the principal author of "Solr 1.4 Enterprise Search Server", the first book on Solr, published by PACKT in 2009. He also developed and taught a two-day course on Solr for MITRE. David plays a lead technical role in a large-scale Solr project in which he has implemented geospatial search based on geohash prefixes, wildcard ngram query parsing, searching multiple multi-valued fields at coordinated positions, part-of-speech search using Lucene payloads, and other things. David consults as a Solr expert on numerous projects for MITRE and its government sponsors. He has contributed code to Lucene and Solr and is active in the open-source community. Prior to his Solr work, David first used Lucene back in 2000, as well as Hibernate-Search and Compass since then. He also used the competing Endeca commercial product, too, but hopes to never use it again. Fascinated by the 'craft' of software development, Eric Pugh has been heavily involved in the open source world as a developer, committer, and user for the past five years. He is an emeritus member of the Apache Software Foundation and lately has been mulling over how we solve the problem of finding answers in datasets when we don't know the questions ahead of time to ask. In biotech, financial services, and defense IT, he has helped European and American companies develop coherent strategies for embracing open source search software. As a speaker, he has advocated the advantages of Agile practices with a focus on testing in search engine implementation. Eric became involved with Solr when he submitted the patch SOLR-284 for Parsing Rich Document types such as PDF and MS Office formats that became the single most popular patch as measured by votes! The patch was subsequently cleaned up and enhanced by three other individuals, demonstrating the power of the open source model to build great code collaboratively. SOLR-284 was eventually refactored into Solr Cell as part of Solr version 1.4. He blogs at http://www.opensourceconnections.com/.
Top customer reviews
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I'm giving this book 4 stars only because I think the authors could have done a better job explaining the process and best practices for deploying solr to production.
If you are looking to build a fast and accurate search engine for large amounts of data, Solr is the way to go and this book will help you.
This book started out a bit slow, but was pretty well organized. It showed numerous ways of bringing data into Solr, and numerous ways of getting data out. The publisher lets you download the source code and data on their site, and you can stick that into Solr.
I also like the fact that the book is pretty recent. I could not find anything in the book which had become "deprecated". All in all, the book helped me go from knowing nothing about Solr, to going live in 2-3 weeks which is pretty darn good.
This is the only book for Solr. Literally -- nobody else has written one yet. Despite the lack of competition, the authors have done a good job putting some useful and new information to paper.
The book covers Solr and SolrJ - the embedded Java client API - and even provides some instruction on integration/embedding into your own Java app instead of using it as a stand-alone HTTP server. This capability exists but reference code and documentation is all but nil in the official docs. Performance tuning and replication are also covered. Generally, this book gives you what you need to make use fo the key (and some sideline) features of Solr so you can get it working for you.
And a big plus: no huge appendices of Javadoc that are useful only to increase page counts to make you feel you are getting 'value'. Really, who refers to Javadoc at the back of a book? I thank the authors and publishers for avoiding this temptation.
But the book does suffer from a problem inherent in tech publications: the assumption that the reader will start on page 1 and move forward. It tries to teach by creating one monolithic application that is spread throughout 300 pages. This is annoying if you start on chapter 8 as much context is lost. Also, these types of books spend too much time focused on the example application code and not enough time talking about the book topic. In the case of this book, the authors use a music database as their example application -- and spend many, may pages talking ancillary garbage about the music metadata, objects and the applications needed to download/use it. I don't care about how to use MusicBrainz. Really.
My free advice to publishers: develop your monolithic reference applications and post them to your website. Refer to them in your books, but use the pages otherwise wasted on music metadata trivia to show two or three alternate ways of using Solr, instead of the one that fits your fictional use case.
Solr has real potential but like most open source projects is sorely missing documentation and reference implementations. Like always, you could crawl the source to figure it out yourself ("What Would Stallman Do?") or buy this book. Frankly, my time is worth more than the book. I'd rather crawl through my own source.
While the authors get caught in the all-too-common approach of extending a single fictional use case throughout the entire book (hate that) - forcing too many pages to focus on the context of their use case and fewer pages on Solr - they do deliver enough of the goods to earn four stars. It would be five if they dropped the extraneous junk and used more pages for the core Solr product.
NB: I love Amazon but am going to point you to the publisher's website on this one. There you get the hardcopy book PLUS an immediately downloadable, password-free, copy-and-paste friendly eBook for about the cost of the paper version alone. I travel a lot and the eBook is amazingly helpful.
Amazon: add the eBook (not Kindle, I need this on my laptop).