Monday, December 23, 2013

A book every php developer should read

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, when there was no Solr and lucene used to be a search engine api available for php developers to use, they used to struggle for using lucene. Most people reverted back to Mysql full text search. And some ventured into using sphinx - another free full text search engine. Then came Solr and php developers were thrilled with the ease of use over the http interface for both indexing and searching text using lucene abstracted by Solr.

Even in those days, it was difficult to fully explore and use the features provided by lucene and Solr through php. There is an extension in Php to communicate to Solr. But the extension has not been in active development. As Solr came out with more and more features, the extension became very basic. Most of the advanced features provided by Solr were not available in the php Solr extension. Then came Solarium, an open source library which is being very actively developed and had support for the latest features of Solr.

But as the features of Solarium and Solr kept on increasing, php developers find it difficult to keep up to date with them. The book Apache Php Solr Integration provides an up to date and in depth view of the latest features provided by Solr and how it can be explored in php via Solarium. Php developers are generally very comfortable in writing code and in setting up systems. But in case you are a developer and are not very familiar with how to Setup solr or how to connect to Solr using php, the book hand holds you with configurations, examples and screen shots.

In addition to discussing simple topics like indexing and search which are very basic to Solr, the book also goes in depth on advanced queries in Solr like filter queries and faceting. The book also guides a developer on setting up Solr for highlighting hits in the results and goes into the implementation with sample codes. Other advanced functionalities discussed in the book are development and implementation of spell check in Solr and php, grouping of results, implementing the more like this feature in Php and Solr. The book also discusses distributed search - a feature used for Scaling Solr horizontally. Setting up of Master-Slave on Solr is discussed with sample configuration files. Load balancing of queries using php and Solarium is also discussed with sample code.

As a php developer, you may have some questions like

Q: Why should i read this book?
A: The book would make you an expert in search using Solr. That would be an additional skill that you can show off.

Q: I know Solr. What additional does the book provide ?
A: Are you up to date with the latest features provided by Solr ?  Have you implemented featues like spell check, suggestions, result grouping, more like this ?

Q: I am an expert in all the above features of Solr. What else does the book have ?
A: Are you comfortable implementing Solr on large scale sites with index which has millions of documents ? Do you know how Solr calculates relevance and how it can be tweaked ? Can you provide index statistics of Solr using php ?

If you are still undecided, the following article and table of contents of the book will help you make your mind.