dtSearch 64-bit Version
Search Technology Optimized for the Corporate Computing Environment
By Mike Riley
Although quite familiar with the dtSearch product line for several years, I continue to be amazed at how relevant the company s offerings continue to be in the face of stiff competition (a.k.a. free) from the extremely large and well-funded competitors. Google and Microsoft s desktop search products have certainly brought local system search to the masses, but have yet to match the extensive feature set that dtSearch supplies. And for those developers who recall the early promises of Microsoft Vista, the file system was supposed to evolve into a big database whose engine could provide unified search across an enterprise. That grand attempt was ejected from the shipping version of Vista, likely because of the substantial complexity and compatibility hurdles such a base-level change would inevitably have caused Vista developers and users alike. Meanwhile, Google has been busy with its services business at the expense of continuing to aggressively push further into the enterprise space with products like their Google appliance search server.
With both companies taking a breather from the intricate delicacies of effective corporate search practices, dtSearch not only continues to remain a player in the market, but, more importantly, is one of the major players in the customized content search systems for corporations. In addition to a strong local desktop search product with a high degree of flexible query customization, the product s Server and Spider editions provide a programming API that developers can incorporate into their own programs. This can turn dtSearch s powerful but overwhelming (at least for non-technical users) interface into a clean Google-like text box optimized for the corporate content searches at hand.
Figure 1: The dtSearch Desktop interface is a full-featured local search and retrieval product that can be used to index both local and networked content.
While the company s Desktop product has changed incrementally since my last review (see dtSearch Desktop Version 7), the company has been busy with two major editions that may prove invaluable to the corporate developer working within a heterogeneous server environment. While still not nearly as prevalent in the corporate data center as Microsoft Windows server is today, the Linux operating system is coming on strong and is taking on more important roles beyond basic file/print and department-centric servers. As CIOs and developers alike incorporate the trends of Linux servers and the 64-bit Windows and Linux server revolution, dtSearch has answered the need with their 64-bit Windows and Linux server-based products. And while the Linux edition has yet to provide a native dtSearch Desktop UI to view results on a Linux workstation, the server can feed results to either a .NET or Java application querying it. Additionally, these .NET or Java applications can be Web-based for the browser experience. And while the dtSearch API does not have a specific example demonstrating dtSearch via a Silverlight front-end, hooking up the necessary data adapters and Web services to deliver results should be quite attainable. Hence, the investment made in the base search server product can have its results feed a huge range of edge devices, from standard workstations and corporate desktops to mobile devices.
Another notable feature of dtSearch is its full support of the entire 32-bit and 64-bit Windows family, from Windows 95 to Vista, and now the new 64-bit Windows Server 2008. It s a testament to dtSearch s commitment to its customers that their products recognize businesses and end users who continue to work in 10-year-old computing environments.
Figure 2: The dtSearch Indexer can spider local, network, and Web content.
In addition to standard text, search results can be published in HTML, XML, and PDF, with highlighted links, images, and additional formatting and their spidering function can index and mine both internal and external Web sites for information. The 40+ supported file types that can be indexed are also impressive, including the Microsoft Office family of documents, MP3 metadata (great for podcasts), various MAPI-accessible e-mail, and plain text formats. Web content can be indexed from both static and dynamic ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, and PHP sites (and others). The product also can index and display more than 10 image formats, ranging from BMP and GIF to JPEG and WMF, with a viewer that can zoom in/out and rotate the retrieved image. dtSearch can even index ODBC-accessible data sources. The application is Unicode aware, allowing it to index international language document types, as well.
What will likely be of most interest to developers is the dtSearch API, which contains an expansive array of well-organized functions that can be leveraged for tremendous flexibility in the creation of custom applications. Although the Linux version of the dtSearch Engine is expensive, it brings years of search indexing expertise to that platform. Additionally, while no commercial front-end for dtSearch on Linux yet exists, intrepid C++ (http://support.dtsearch.com/webhelp/dtsearchCppApi/frames.html) and Java (http://support.dtsearch.com/webhelp/dtSearchJavaApi/frames.html) developers can leverage the dtSearch API to replicate the user interface inspired by the Windows version to deliver such power to that operating system. The dtSearch API documentation is also available online for COM (http://support.dtsearch.com/webhelp/dtsearchCppApi/frames.html?frmname=topic&frmfile=COM_Interface.html), .NET (http://support.dtsearch.com/dts0172.htm), and .NET 2.0/3.0 (http://support.dtsearch.com/webhelp/dtSearchNetApi2/frames.html).
With the latest 64-bit releases of the dtSearch Engine for both Windows and Linux editions, programming this highly capable content searching system is more challenging, though not insurmountably so compared to the 32-bit version. dtSearch has provided a useful overview on their Web site specifically for 64-bit development. Visit http://support.dtsearch.com/dts0217.htm for more details.
Figure 3: The dtSearch Engine can deliver query results to custom applications and Web pages.
Overall, dtSearch continues to remain a very relevant supplier of search technology optimized for the corporate computing environment. While it s possible to build a commercial Web service using dtSearch as a back-end, the product s licensing costs may prohibit its use to a Web presence with a modest volume of traffic. However, for internal file management and customer kiosk applications, dtSearch delivers a powerful compliment of front-end and back-end solutions that continue to fill a niche that other, much larger companies have yet to adequately satisfy.
Web Site: http://www.dtsearch.com
Price: dtSearch Desktop, US$199; dtSearch Web and dtSearch Engine, US$999 per server; dtSearch Engine for Linux for use on up to three servers, US$2,500.
Mike Riley is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. Readers may contact Mike at mailto:[email protected].