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  PC-Net's PC News - August, 2003
 
Don Watkins

dtSearch - The Ultimate (local) Search Tool

By Don Watkins

 
 

 

I'm always looking for a way to keep up with stuff and frankly Windows search doesn't cut it. Even the indexing service in NT/200x/XP is, as far as I'm concerned, miserable.

I've been aware of dtSearch for quite some time; they've been around since 1991, but I'd lost track of them until I ran into a new version of their dtSearch Desktop product. It came at just the right time, I was pretty much unable to find anything in my archived email and it did a great job of indexing my 10,000 plus emails to the point where I can find that critical email in a couple of seconds.

Search features are robust and you can use fuzzy, phonic, wildcard and more in your searches. But most of all it's blazingly fast. It supports just about any file format as well; HTML, ZIP, PDF, XML, Access and more.

But I had a bigger problem, I needed a search engine for PCNet. The aforementioned index server was getting more and more cranky and even though I had written custom code for the output I still wasn't happy with it.

I figured if dtSearch Desktop did such a great job why not try dtSearch Web? It's not cheap, but hey, a good search tool that's easy to use is indispensable and a trail version is available.

I was more than a little hesitant, typically I get involved in a server project and, given my lack of skills, it's a major undertaking involving installs, uninstalls, restores and lots of expletives but given the huge growth in the download area I was desperate.

I installed the package, no problems there, and started up the index wizard. Figuring I'd start with the most critical area I selected the PCNet download area. I selected the pages I wanted to index, told the wizard where I wanted them stored and bang, it did it and did it FAST. Even though the numbers looked good I still didn't quite believe it so I created another index for another area. It went even faster.

Next I fired up the search page generation wizard. I selected the index (the downloads area, but I could have included as many indexes as I had created), told it where I wanted them placed and bang, the download area search form was created.

Nah, it couldn't be that easy. I fired up my browser, navigated to the search form and fed it a query that I knew the results of. Everything turned up.

Here are some of the features of dtSearch Web:

  • Windows GUI administration interface.
  • Uses the Windows Task Scheduler.
  • Simple configuration to connect to IIS web server via ASP and ISAPI
  • Spider for web site robot indexing comes with all versions of the software
  • Also indexes local file systems and mounted servers.
  • Can include based on URL path and exclude based on file type extension
  • Can exclude text between <!--BeginNoIndex--> and <!--EndNoIndex--> tags. 
  • Incremental index updates.
  • In addition to English supports French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Portuguese (Brazilian/European), Finnish and Norwegian
  • Unicode support, including Arabic
  • Indexes and searches nested XML fields
  • ODBC interface to databases
  • Indexes HTML, Outlook email directories, PDF, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft Access, PowerPoint, RTF, ZIP archives and XML.
  • Supports multiple indexes, each containing 4 to 8 gigabytes of text
  • Search type option for forms, selecting among "all words", "any words", "exact phrase", and "boolean" search types.
  • Searching using phrases, Boolean operators, natural-Language queries, fuzzy logic, stemming and phonetic matches.
  • Can search specified fields and meta tags.
  • Advanced search interface lists search zones, query options, fuzziness, number of results and sorting options.
  • Default search result (wizard generated) page shows results in side frame.
  • Match word highlighting in search results
  • Can display web pages and office documents in browser with match words marked.
  • Extensive customization, including ASP integration
  • Customizable logging of search requests (very handy for seeing what people are looking for!).
  • API supports Java JNI, C++, Visual C++, Visual Basic, .NET, and Delphi

Now I'll probably not use even half of these features, but who knows, I might grow a brain but until then I have a world class search engine, all in less than 10 minutes.

If only writing these articles was so easy.

Highly recommended.

dtSearch Web site

 

 

     
   
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