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On Saturday I caught a cold. On Sunday, I caught a flight to San Francisco to attend Lucene Revolution - the biggest open source search conference on the planet – to catch up on the latest developments with Apache Lucene/Solr.

From the Solr project website:

“Solr is the popular, blazing fast open source enterprise search platform from the Apache Lucene project. Its major features include powerful full-text search, hit highlighting, faceted search, dynamic clustering, database integration, rich document (e.g., Word, PDF) handling, and geospatial search. Solr is highly scalable, providing distributed search and index replication, and it powers the search and navigation features of many of the world's largest internet sites.”

I was joined there by developers and representatives from AT&T, CareerBuilder.com, Corbis, Ebay, eHarmony, EMC, Etsy.com, HathiTrust, Healthwise, Intuit, Travelocity, Trulia, Twitter, Woot, and Yelp, to name a few. (Yes, I’m name dropping – just trying to appear cool here.)

I’ve been working with Solr for the better part of a year, and I thought it very impressive, but the conference blew my socks off in terms of what Solr can do. To think that the best-of-breed search performance in the world is open source! (Solr beats Google in overall search performance. No, I’m not exaggerating.)

Solr is a game-changer, there’s no doubt. No longer is open source just a freebie alternative, it is the go-to standard that is beating the pants off of proprietary search engines. I heard quite a few stories of prominent household-name enterprises switching to Solr and reducing costs while simultaneously vastly increasing their capabilities and performance. 

Happily, Solr not only scales up to the largest data collections ever created by our species, but also down to the relatively modest needs of the rest of us. It democratizes search. A kid making a website in his parent’s basement can utilize the same cutting-edge search features as a multinational corporation, and that’s not just convenient, it’s necessary, because search is vital now to every level of our interaction with information.

I can’t wait to apply what I learned at the conference back at El Rancho Andornot. Also, I need to keep ahead of that kid in the basement.

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