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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Search Boost 2.9 has arrived

Version 2.9 of the Search Boost module is hot off the press! It's been a few intense months for Search Boost. We received tons of feature requests, many of which are included in this release along a dozen fixes and optimizations.

This is the last major release in 2.0 generation. Version 3.0 is just around the corner. Scheduled to be released in a few months, it's a game changer. But we're keeping this a surprise!

Before getting into the details, special thanks go to all our customers that have made Search Boost great! Right now Search Boost is still the leader in the DNN search engines market and one of the best selling modules.

Documents Search

We've made some improvements to how Search Boost indexes and searched documents. We've extended the metadata files to allow specifying a locale, to ignore DNN folder security and to tokenize the page titles. The tokenization is particularly useful if you need to integrated with a custom module that stored friendly titles for documents, for example DMX or the standard documents module.

The Ignore Security option is not a security override as some may think. What it does it lets documents come up under search results. But as soon as the users click them, Search Boost will check the security and redirect to the login page or throw unauthorized exception.

Another major improvement is the addition of a Web Service that can index documents individually. This makes it possible to push documents to the index which are stored in other locations by other applications. More work was done around indexing documents that were stored binary in the database.

Just want to note this is not recommended practice. The database puts some overhead around accessing file content. Also, working with files through other applications or accessing them manually will be more difficult. But nevertheless, if DNN supports it, we've added support for them.

Finally, an important tweak around document is that Search Boost will now also look at the timestamp of the metadata file when determining files that have changed. This is also a good hack to force a single document or folder to reindex.

Front End Changes

We've also added some enhancements for end users. The most important is the ability for admins to specify a list of page sizes and let users change page size at search time based on this list.

Another feature related to sorting is the ability to sort by custom fields. There is no admin UI for this yet, but it can be achieved through custom templates or modules just by appending some parameters to the search URL.

We've extended The popular highlighter, which is a 3rd party open source component, to work with wildcard searches and to highlight terms in title too. Note that the highlighter and wildcard search features are still incompatible with some of the other functionality.

The incompatibilities are highlighted in the administration console. In the templates folder you'll find 2 templates for building the pager. They can be used as the base for creating custom pagination UI. There's one particular fix I want to mention. We've fixed the Dynamic Filter on the Search Target screen. This feature is useful when you have skin object visible on all pages, but you want for example to only search pages that are children of current page.

Imagine for example searching parts of the website based on current location. This feature never worked good in 2.0 release, it was not migrated fully from the old DNN based search engine. We've now redone this from scratch so it's back to its former glory!


Custom Rule

There has been one major modifications to how custom rules when defined in advanced mode. For those of you that don't already know, custom rules allow indexing content directly from the database. This can be done either through a wizard that helps you define tables, joins and columns, or by specifying a query - this is called the advanced mode.

The major improvement is that Search Boost will wrap a CTE around the query. This helped isolate a lot of issues that came from how the query was written. Search Boost will apply other logic outside the CTE body, while inside the CTE body is only the user provided query.

A few other modifications were applied to determine how custom rules determine the content that needs deleted and to fix the URLs that were sometimes appending extra "?" or "&" characters.

Indexing and Searching

In terms of how the content is indexed and searched we've made some a few improvements and lots of fixes. First, we've rewritten how facets are built from DNN tags so they are significantly faster. It used to be the case that if there were hundreds of tags the searches would get slower taking 10 seconds. This is no longer the case.


We've adjusted the search to only take into account words that have more than 1 letter, except the wildcard search is used, in which case those will also be taken into account. There are actually a few more tweaks and fixes that you can read about here.


We actually didn't plan release 2.9. We were aiming directly to 3.0. But it got so big that we've decided to split it in two.

That’s it! Stay tuned for more posts this week. We’ll be sharing more tips for speeding up your DNN projects.

Join us on our support platform where all feedback, module suggestions, bug reports, and pull requests are always welcome! Enjoy!
Author: Ionut Grecu
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Ionut Grecu

Ionut GrecuIonut Grecu

His work exists at the intersection of anthropology, psychology, comparative mythology and Online Marketing. Weird, right?

He doesn't just deal with DNN, he lives and breathes it.

DNN Sharp is his oyster and on a day to day basis, his role is to keep DNN Sharp's marketing engine firin

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