Product Review: Ontolica Wildcard

Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:53 PM by C-Dog's .NET Tip of the Day

As some of you know I have been doing quite a bit with MOSS Enterprise Search lately. I have got it working great for a lot of different things. As I was testing today, however I noticed when using the search box on the default search page, it was only returning exact matches of words. For example, I typed "enter" and did not get anything with the word "enterprise" in it. After some research, I remembered that the default search box uses a keyword search and keyword search does not support wildcards. This is extermely lame. I started looking for a solution and I stumbled upon Ontolica Wildcard Search.

Excited that someone might have already solved this problem for me, I immediately downloaded it and installed it. The automated setup errored out for me when trying to install one of the DLLs to the GAC (arg, don't use the GAC people). Since that didn't work, I manually installed the solution and deployed it and I was able to get it running.

It is effectively a new Search Center site with their own controls. When I got the new site created, I tried a wildcard search only to have it fail. It was not a product failure however, the wildcard search simply requires an asterisk (*) at the end of your string. I decided to see what configuration optons are available and have to say they have a very nice set of configuration pages. Everything is fully skinnable using XSLT. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was an option to always apply the wildcard filter to your query.

One thing that is different is that it has its own search scopes. The scopes are actually configured via the search tabs. You have to go into Central Administration, edit the tab, and select the scopes there. The one thing that is different is that it has its own scopes and you have to map the MOSS scopes to the Ontolica scopes.

All in all I am pretty pleased with this product. I will guess that it saves me at least a week's worth of work trying to come up with my own solution to this problem. My biggest request for the company would be to properly apply code access security to their assemblies and put that in their solution file. I don't like the idea of a search page (that people like to try and hack anyway) running in full trust. I think this has got to be fixed because a lot of organizations will have an issue with it.

The best part of Onotolica Wildcard Search is that the product is free. They also offer a paid product, Ontolica Search that brings a lot of nice features to the table. It can search images, provides drill-down on results, and sort. All in all I am pretty impressed with the product. If you have a need to perform a wildcard search, this is definitely the way to go.

Ontolica Wildcard Search

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