I decided to use the Sphinx search engine for the GeeQe iPhone app I build last year because it was fast and had a very small memory footprint. Recently I wanted to experiment with a search interface that had facets and wondered if I would need to move away from Sphinx to something like Solr. As it turns out Sphinx can do faceted search almost as well as Solr can. The first half of what follows contains instructions on how to get Sphinx ready for faceted searches. If you are familiar with setting up Sphinx and already have data indexed by Sphinx you may find it better to skip to the second half after reading the intro to faceted search.
You have almost certainly seen faceted searching or faceted browsing already. A lot of online retailers now use facets in their online stores. Here are a few examples:
- An Amazon search for java programming
- A Best Buy search for flat panel TVs
- A New Egg search for Laptops