Splainer: A Solr Developers Best Friend

Doug TurnbullJuly 24, 2015

Do you know about Splainer? It’s our handy-dandy, free and open source tool for developers working with Solr search results. In addition to Quepid, it’s become my favorite go to tool for ad-hoc tweaking a specific Solr query. Let’s face it: nobody likes working with Solr in their browser’s URL bar. It’s a royal pain. Further, when you’re left decoding ugly gobbly gook that looks like this, how can anyone make any progress on search?

<response>
  <lst name="responseHeader">
  <int name="status">0</int>
  <int name="QTime">1</int>
  <lst name="params">
    <str name="bq">title:deer</str>
    <str name="q">catch_line:deer hunt from boat</str>
    <str name="defType">edismax</str>
</lst>
</lst>
  <result name="response" numFound="7379" start="0">
  <doc>
    <str name="id">l_15358</str>
    <str name="catch_line">Deer enclosures prohibited; exceptions; penalty.</str>
    <str name="text">

This is a headache! You’d rather paste your Solr URL into some prettier, easy to decode tool that can explain what’s happening to you. In short you’d rather work like whoever this badass ninja is:

alt text

Once you get your Solr URL into Splainer, you can tweak the params sent to Solr to your hearts delight. Splainer eases your search work, letting you tweak and iterate on an ongoing basis. Instead of working painfully in your browser’s URL bar, trying to read the XML tea leaves, you can work in Splainer to get search where it needs to be!

Well I’m here to tell you that Splainer is now better than ever. I want to highlight two handy features we’ve added recently to make your search life much easier.

Explain Other & Compare

One question you always ask yourself with search is “where did that important document go!?!?”. Why isn’t that document on deer hunting coming up when the user searches for deer hunting!? Why is it scored so much lower than this other odd document? Now Splainer can help you answer those questions through its explain other capabilities:

alt text

Notice how you simply apply a simple field-based search to explore your documents. The explanations are given in terms of the primary query – letting you know why a given document isn’t ranked as highly for the main query. This is a crucial debugging capability, and it sure has saved us a great deal of time!

Share Splain’d Results Through URLs

Did you know that in the state of virginia there’s laws on deer hunting from watercraft? Do you know when bear hunting season is? Hopefully you see what I did there :)! URLs are extremely powerful. With Solr, you can directly share search results simply by copy/pasting URLs to your colleagues. Now you can do the same with Splainer, simply by using the URL in the URL bar:

alt text

This is of course a tremendous collaboration feature. Now you can have conversations such as:

Tim: Did you see the bug with the bear hunting? Check it out here

Sue: Sure did, I’ll work on solving that

…Sometime later…

Sue: Hey Tim, what do you think of this solution

Tim: Great!

Splainer has enabled so much great search relevance work for us. Along with Quepid, we love developing tremendous tools to help solve tough client search problems. We hope you’ll find great value in Splainer and we hope to here your feedback. And as always, let us know if we can help you with a tough search problem!




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