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Solr 1.4 Enterprise Search Server Paperback – August 19, 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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/.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (August 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847195881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847195883
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,802,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A required tome for anyone working with Solr. It is recent - actually, it is ahead of the curve - covering Solr 1.4 which is not even GA from apache yet (as of September 2009).

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.
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Coming from a PHP Web Development background, I have had little experience using Java on web development projects. Although I am quite familiar with the language, it has been a good 6 years since I really used Java. This book was exactly what I needed to get a powerful search engine up and running for my system. I have an application with 200,000 products that must be searchable. Millions of options and billions of combinations make for a fairly complex system. Solr was the right way to go, but online documentation just didn't cut it. "Solr 1.4 Enterprise Search Server" explained everything I needed to know in a way that was not difficult to understand. Although the book was written before Solr 1.4 was released, the authors did a good job of keeping the content relevant and mention potential hiccups when 1.4 would be released. There is a decent section on implementation with PHP and Ruby.

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.
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This book has a lot of information, some of it good. But man the expectations they have of the reader! First, if you want to follow along with the example data, you'd better be pretty experienced with Java. And Ant. (I am, but I'm trying to learn Solr, not work with Java or Ant.) Second, to get the data, you have to go to their site, which I did, and tried to register my email address. I never got a notifying email. So I emailed the publisher and a nice person helped me get the data. But then I found out that this "data" was some config files, and an Ant script that you have to run, which will download the actual data files via FTP, decompress them, and index them.

The Ant script blew up. It turns out that you also need to set up and run the instance of Solr first. And to do that, you have to run a multi-core instance of Solr. Don't know what that is? Go ahead and read the book first, and then you'll know, at which point you can go back to just trying to set up the stuff you need to follow along with the book. The java command they specify to run a multi-core Solr instance is about a mile long. They provide some notes about each option, but what good are notes there? If you don't already know a lot about the options used to start Java, you won't know what it's doing, and if anything goes wrong, you're stuck.

The note on all of this also says that if you have memory problems, you can refer to chapter 9, the very last chapter in the book, for help.

So to get started with this book you need to read and understand it first.

There's another point where the author goes off on a tangent about remote streaming, starts to explain a topic, then says, "I won't go any further into that. If you already know about this, you're good.
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I bought this book after reading different Solr guides and tutorials. The problem with the guides and tutorials is they did not do a good enough job of explaining what the different Solr terminology was. Faceting, Multiple Cores, etc.

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.
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