PermaLink Ah, vendors...08/05/2008 09:41 PM
I think my most recent project is going to end up being yet another one of those situations where I just have to figure it out myself.

At my day job, we've been somewhat disappointed with Google as an enterprisewide search engine, mostly for the sake of the enormous Domino-based system I manage. Since Google can't see what it can't see over port 80, it has absolutely no knowledge of the nature of all our Domino databases, and until fairly recently, couldn't even recognize a date called DATE as... a date. The only date the Google Appliance recognized for the longest time was "what day did I last look at that document?"

This is just about the most useless possible date if you're an end user, since you're more interested in "what day did this document get edited last," or "what's the official effective date on this document?" Yes, Google updated the GA so that it can recognize some dates other than its own last-indexed date, but only if the value is echoed into a META value in the header someplace. Again, if it doesn't see it over port 80, Google doesn't see it.

The Vivisimo Velocity engine interested us, since it advertised an ability to index Domino data through the back end, and we had already been using the Vivisimo Clustering engine to provide intelligently-clustered topics in clumps in the end user's face. Been using it for a few years, actually. It works well, but it can only work as well as the XML it gets from Google, and... Google is pretty stupid.

After months of hassle, mostly created by our own purchasing department, who insisted on getting involved even though this was a free trial of the full suite of Vivisimo products, we finally got the code and installed it on one of our test servers, Domino 8.01 on Windows Server 2003. I knew there would be problems as soon as I set the code up, since the README had all sorts of suggestions on how to set it up with IIS, and absolutely no pointers about Domino or anything else.

After 15 years, I'm used to that.

How their indexer works is, you set up an account for a web user, give it rights to NSFs, then give that web login to the crawler and tell it what view to eat. The Vivisimo engine talks to the Domino server over DIIOP, and then indexes and organizes the content. No problem. 25,000 documents and about a half hour later, it was done crawling. However, actually querying the index turned out to be impossible, since it seemed to want to somehow go back to the Domino server over DIIOP, but through another CGI module that wasn't playing along.

My first email to their support people was not a positive thing. After I warned them that no, I did not intend to use their product with IIS when i had a perfectly good Domino server there, their first suggestion was, "we know we can make it work with Apache. Do you have Apache?"

Look, folks, if I wanted to involve a third piece of software, I'd just keep using the Google/Vivisimo hybrid we use now. The goal was to get this tied to Domino and use Domino as the web host for both accepting and publishing searches.

"I'll have to check around, I don't think we have anybody using that with Domino..."

After 15 years, I'm used to that.

Guys, if your software is CGI-capable, and Domino makes a perfectly good CGI host, there should be no problem. And no, I will not install Apache, or IIS, or any other fucking thing.

Get it through your heads, vendors: Domino is a better webserver and web development environment than anything else the world has ever seen. Support it, or go fuck a mule, OK? I am tired of calling support lines and not only not being able to reach anyone who realizes their product was advertised to work with Domino, but also getting people who want to try to talk me out of using it!

I will bet their revenues weren't up 21%.

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2. Bill Brown08/25/2008 01:06:22 PM

Any suggestions on crawlers for IBM's Omnifind search engine? The consultant setting it up wants to use web/DIIOP and that needs HTTP clients to be able to browse databases. IBM security technotes say to turn that off.

3. Turtle08/06/2008 12:58:57 PM

Thanks for the tips, guys...

4. Ben Poole08/06/2008 09:26:56 AM

Have had similar experiences. Again, FWIW, at one gig we used Verity (now part of Autonomy) K2 search, which has a good Notes "gateway" (as they call them) which can index NSF content (doesn't need to be web-enabled), supports the Notes security model, and can build its indices with the help of custom Notes formula.

5. Duffbert08/05/2008 10:47:36 PM

For what it's worth, you may want to check out the Persistent plug-in for crawling native Notes content. { Link } Google so much as told us it's the recommended way to connect to Notes content, and it's the one we use. It has its own quirks, but overall it does a reasonably good job for the price. Email me if you have questions.

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