Tag Archives: sphinx

Faceted Search With Sphinx

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:

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Full Text Search with Sphinx

While developing my GeeQE iPhone application I decided I needed a way to let users search posts so I started looking around for a simple search engine that I could use with PHP. I took a look at a number of different options like MySQL Full Text search, Sphinx, Solr and others based on Lucene. After looking at what it would take to get started with each I decided to go with Sphinx. Sphinx looked like it would be the easiest and quickest to set up, didn't require a lot of resources to run in an idle state and would integrate with PHP easily.

This post goes over how I went about configuring Sphinx and gives an example of how to integrate it with PHP. I'm using MySQL as the data store filled with the Stack Overflow CC data dump although it should be easy to adapt the instructions to other data sources. To follow along just download a copy of the data dump and use my schema and loader to get the same MySQL database.

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