In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at why fishbowl chose Mindbreeze as a GSA replacement and how one of our GSA customers transitioned to Mindbreeze. Today I’ll share how to set up the most-used GSA functionality within the Mindbreeze InSpire enterprise search appliance.
The GSA’s Dynamic navigation enables users to refine a search using metadata attributes as filters. Within Mindbreeze this functionality is called Filter Facets. A default set of filters can be defined for each Mindbreeze client service based on the metadata available from the various indexed content sources. The client service is roughly equivalent to the GSA’s client frontend parameter (as opposed to the proxystylesheet which also references a frontend but is more comparable to a search app in Mindbreeze). In addition to the filters defined for a client service, you can also define filters within custom search apps by explicitly adding the desired filters. This is true for both the GUI-based Mindbreeze Search App Designer, and for search apps built using the Mindbreeze API.
What’s New: Mindbreeze offers a multi-select interface for search facets. This was a much-requested GSA enhancement and allows you to refine your search by selecting among several facet options rather than a single option as available with GSA. Mindbreeze also allows configuration of whether multiple selections should apply AND or OR constraints across the multiple selected values.
Configuring Mindbreeze Search Filters
From the Client Services tab in the Mindbreeze Management Center expand the desired client service and navigate to the Filters heading. Check the box next to each metadata field you want to include as a filter. Any searches performed against this client service will return these filters unless overridden in an individual search app.
The GSA’s document preview engine creates image renditions of Word, PowerPoint, and PDF files for up to 30 pages of a document; previews or thumbnails are not available for other file types out of the box. The Mindbreeze preview engine supports preview settings for 91 different file types. For many files, the preview engine can be configured to create both a document thumbnail, for use on results pages, and a content preview which is typically displayed as a modal popup. For example, Mindbreeze can display a thumbnail of a Word document next to the result title, and a preview link which displays a full-context PDF rendition as the document preview.
What’s New: In addition supporting more files types and creating thumbnails, the Mindbreeze previews highlight all instances of your query terms in the preview rendition making it easy to see where in the document the relevant keywords occur. Mindbreeze previews are controlled by the Mindbreeze filter service which controls many aspects of how document contents are processed and extracted for indexing. The Mindbreeze SDK provides an interface for creating custom filter plugins which can alter or add to the standard preview generation capabilities.
Configuring Mindbreeze Previews
From the Filters tab in the Mindbreeze Management Center, expand the desired Filter Service. For each applicable file type, select the desired filter plugin. For example, to create PDF previews of Excel files, navigate to xlsx and select FilterPlugin.OfficeDocumentToPDFContentFilter. Like GSA, Mindbreeze previews are generated during indexing. Any existing documents will need to be reindexed for preview configuration changes to appear in search results.
The GSA and Mindbreeze search appliances both provide query transformation services for automatic modification of search queries. Synonym transformation allows you to find search results by looking for different synonyms of a word, therefore the query is transformed to search for every term listed in the synonyms list. For example, if a user searches for “FAQ,” the appliance could also look for documents containing “frequently asked questions”.
What’s New: Although a shared synonyms file is included with Mindbreeze out of the box, unique synonyms may optionally be defined for individual content sources. This means if you use different terms in your ERP system than on your customer extranet, you can define synonymous terms for their respective sources. Mindbreeze also offers two additional query transformation engines that address specific use cases often handled with synonyms in the GSA. The first is Replacements, which completely replace a defined term with an alternative term or terms. The second is Vocabulary, which specifies preferred and alternative versions of defined search terms. Vocabulary entries are treated as synonyms; however, the preferred label is given more weight than the alternate label when determining relevancy.
Configuring Mindbreeze Synonyms
Select Synonyms from the Search Experience menu in the Mindbreeze Management Center. In the table displayed, enter synonymous terms with one term per column and one term group per row as shown.
Mindbreeze query transformation can be applied globally or to a specific data source. To apply the Synonyms to all content, navigate to the Indices tab and locate Query Transformation Services at the bottom of the page. Add the SynonymTransformer from the picklist. Expand the configuration and add the following configuration: Property: SYNONYM_CSV_FILE_PATH and Value: /data/resources/synonyms.csv. To configure synonyms for an individual index perform these same steps within the Query Transformation Services section of an individual index. You can optionally specify a path to a different synonyms file than the default show here.
Both GSA and Mindbreeze can provide query suggestions within the search box that complete a user’s query as they type. The GSA used popular search queries from the past 90 days to determine the top suggestions. Mindbreeze offers a similar option called Similar Queries along with four other possible data sources from which to generate suggestions. Like Filter Facets, suggestions can be defined for each Mindbreeze client service. Suggestion data is also available using the Mindbreeze Suggest API (api.v2.suggest). This API is useful when adding Mindbreeze suggestions to an existing search box on a website or application. The Mindbreeze Suggest API is similar to the GSA’s Query Suggestion Service /suggest Protocol.
What’s New: Unlike the GSA, Mindbreeze suggestions can be provided from a number of different data sources. Suggestions can even be displayed when a user places their cursor in the search box before entering any characters; this is called Initial Suggest. The following suggestion options are available in Mindbreeze:
- Similar queries (this is comparable to the GSA’s suggestions feature)
- Suggestions from a CSV file
- Mindbreeze tabs to search for the current search term
- Document properties from indexed metadata (e.g. Document Titles)
- Recent queries from the last searches performed by a user
The ability to load suggestions from a CSV file provides an easy way to pre-populate suggestions and ensures they remain in the suggestion pool even if they are not frequently used. This was a common enhancement request from GSA customers.
Configuring Mindbreeze Suggestions
From the Client Services tab in the Mindbreeze Management Center expand the desired client service and navigate to the Suggest Settings and Initial Suggest Settings headings, respectively. Check the box next to each suggestion source you want to enable for this client service. Any searches performed against this client service will return these suggestions unless overridden in a direct API request. If suggestions from a CSV file are desired, the path to the CSV file must be defined under the heading Suggest Settings (Concept CSV) also located on the client service configuration page.
Beyond GSA – 6 New Things We Love About Mindbreeze
While Mindbreeze offers GSA parity in many ways, there are plenty of upgrades to be found. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Mindbreeze lets you boost (i.e. bias) the overall weight of a metadata field enabling you to increase (or decrease) the general importance of fields like title, subject, or keywords.
- Mindbreeze provides built-in search analytics and application performance monitoring via the integrated App Telemetry platform.
- Mindbreeze offers a native user feedback mechanism including screenshots from the users’ search results.
- Mindbreeze provides access to the appliance OS and filesystem. You can upload your own files to support advanced configurations or create custom interfaces. This also allows the use of standard backup techniques on the index and configuration files.
- Mindbreeze does not require secondary servers for connectors (e.g. Tomcat); even custom connectors run directly on the appliance.
- Mindbreeze includes a search app builder which provides drag and drop tools for creating use-case specific search apps without coding.
If you have a GSA approaching expiration, we believe Mindbreeze offers the quickest and most reliable search replacement path. As a Mindbreeze partner, we offer both resale and implementation services, and as a long-time GSA partner, we’re familiar with the functionality of both platforms. If you have questions or would like to know more, please contact us or leave a comment below.