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Delivering the "Right" Search Results

The Apache Solr search server that powers Acquia Search has many powerful features. One of the less appreciated ones is the ability to specify at query time that documents matching certain criteria should get an extra "boost" in their relevancy score. This means that they appear higher in the search results.

Imagine that you are maintaining a site and you have recently added Acquia Search. Your boss, Bob, is not pleased, however. He says "I thought you told me this new search would do a better job of finding the most relevant results - but when I try it the ones I expect to see come up first are not there." After protesting that the result are good matches to the key words, further discussion reveals that Bob expect his blog posts to be the most relevant matches!

In the Apache Solr settings you can use the "Content bias settings" tab and "Search fields" tab to adjust the boost (see screen shot below). The boost can be set based on a range of properties including content types and node properties, as well as for cases where a keyword matches a certain node field or taxonomy vocabulary. By changing these configuration options, in most cases you can shift the results so they match the needs of your site. Given the problem with Bob's blog posts, you adjust the settings so that all Blog content gets an extra boost.

However, you may still find that the search results are not optimally relevant, especially if you have certain pieces of content that you think should be highlighted, or some pieces of content that you know are of particularly high quality. In this case, you can add a search boost at the node level to make these "important" nodes come to the top. You can write a very small amount of custom code in a site-specific module to get the desired result.

In our imagined scenario case, Bob is still upset because the developers also write blog posts, and those tend to include more of the keywords so are better matches, plus he's annoyed that when one of his blog posts does show up, it's one he wrote last month. If you have some way to automatically identify the "important" nodes, then you may be able to transform those rules into code if the rules can be formulated as a Lucene query. For example, like this hook implementation:

Why Varnish Rocks (and details on Boston training)

We are big fans of Varnish Cache, the incredibly fast and flexible open-source, caching software. Varnish delivers a significant fraction of the content for our Acquia Hosting and Drupal Gardens users.

Drupal Gardens site design contest winners

The Drupal Gardens sites submitted for our recent contest were fantastic and it was really hard to pick just one winner. The site designs were judged on their creativity, attractiveness, and complexity. The winner is Susan MacPhee who built Ipswich Ale Brewery, the website for a New England craft brewer. Congratulations Susan - enjoy your new iPad!

How to learn Drupal

Though it's not always a linear process, hopefully with training, we can make the learning process a bit smoother for you, by connecting you to development expertise.

Drupal Gardens adds video support with media galleries

Four weeks ago, the Drupal Gardens team introduced the image gallery feature to all Drupal Gardens sites. While that was great, we wanted galleries to be true media galleries, and so last week the team introduced video support to galleries in a seamless way. Built on top of the awesome Media module and supporting Media: YouTube module, it's architecture is easily extended to support video from many other sources in the future.

Where is the Media module at or why I spent DrupalCon in a corner w/ my laptop

Like many Drupalcons, I spent nearly the entire conference preparing my presentations. This is no fun, but we’ve been so busy trying to get the new gallery feature in Drupal Gardens released that it was the only way.  Anyone else have this experience?

Facet queries? Making custom Solr facets for fun and profit.

It sounded like a really simple request: "Is it easy to add a search filter for 'My posts'?". In other words, add a search result facet for posts by the current (logged in) user through the Apache Solr Search Integration module APIs?

But then the wheels start turning - we want not just one blind link, but a real facet link that tells us how many results we'll get. Also, if we are filtering by 'My posts' then we probably have an equal use case for the opposite filter 'Posts not by me'. So we really need a facet block with two links and facets counts.

The Power of 10%

At Dries' keynote at Drupalcon Copenhagen today, he talked about what the Drupal project might look like in 10 more years, and what it might mean if the project grows by a factor of 10. I'd like to elaborate a bit on his theme by making an analogy with Mozilla Firefox.

Drupal Security Presentation at Drupalcon

Drupalcon has started! I had the pleasure this morning of giving one of the sessions in the first time slot at Drupalcon Copenhagen.

It was treat to present "Drupal Security for Coders and Themers" with Jakub Suchy from Dynamite Heads and one of my colleagues on the Drupal Security Team. One of the goals of the security team is to help educate the Drupal community about secure coding, secure configuration, and best practices for running a Drupal site.

Drupal 7: Get Real, Get Dirty, and Get It Done

Yesterday I participated in the Drupal 7 code sprint with a host of excellent people. We made good progress and also talked about the state of the Drupal 7 release. Apparently Moshe and I came to a very similar conclusion about what needs to be done and both decided to blog about it; in fact I stole the title of this post from him.

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