People who know me know that I often say, “There’s a reason why I work on text.” I’m not a visual thinker. Never have been. And if you’ve seen my penmanship, you know that calling it chicken scratch would be a compliment. But I know there are those out there who are visual thinkers and can create beautiful, visual applications. Apps that paint a picture that is worth more than my proverbial thousand words.

Fortunately, we’ve found a partner who is skilled in such craftsmanship and has the talent to tell powerful, new visual stories with data. That’s why I’m so excited today to announce Lucidworks’ acquisition of Twigkit. Twigkit makes it easy to tell data-driven stories without having to script every last pixel or strain to remember that one quirky JS incantation that invokes pagination on a search results page.

Thanks to Twigkit’s integration with Lucidworks Fusion and the ability to federate across multiple data sources, this acquisition enables us to further deliver on our vision of intelligent data access via interfaces that are built with the end user in mind.

Why Twigkit?

We’ve seen firsthand how our Fusion platform and Twigkit is a natural fit. In competitive situations, Twigkit has enabled us to quickly take new applications from proof of concept to production without having to wrangle custom front end code for UI features, or worry about complex back end code for integrating with third party systems. Proof of concepts that used to take days of development and troubleshooting custom code, now take just hours. Full applications that usually took weeks or months to wire together, are now taking days.

Developers who previously had to learn the ins and outs of Fusion pipelines or Solr syntax to build a simple HR app, are now able to write a few lines of HTML and deliver fast, beautiful results. With templates designed to address common data driven solutions across industries like finance, ecommerce, manufacturing, and government, users can also save time wiring together whole applications.

For example in our recent Fusion + Thomson Reuters webinar, I showed how we built a working financial news application from scratch using Twigkit in just four days time. Previous attempts at a similar project took over three weeks and the result was nowhere near as elegant or compelling.

As a short example of that, the previous code for displaying faceting (using Flask’s Jinja2 framework) looked like:

 <div class="facet-fields">
 <div class="odd">Fields</div>
 {% for facets in the_facets['facet_fields'] %}
 {% set field = the_facets['facet_fields'][facets] %}
 {% if field|length > 0 %}
 <div class="facet-header">{{ facets|title|replace('_facet', '' )|replace('_', ' ')}}</div>
 <div class="facet-group">
 {% for val in field %}
 {% if loop.index0 % 2 == 0 %}
 <div class="facet-val"><a href="{{ current_url }}&fq={{ facets }}:{{ val|urlencode }}">{{ val }}</a> ({{ field[loop.index0 + 1 ] }})</div>
 {% endif %}
 {% endfor %}
 </div>
 {% endif %}
 {% endfor %}

In Twigkit, this same piece is simply an HTML tag with a few attributes:

<search:facet-list response="response" platform="platform" query="query"
 styling="facet-list"
 facet-names="_lw_data_source_s=Source,*">
 <search:facet collapsible="true" show="8" show-more="20"></search:facet>
 </search:facet-list>

Behind the scenes of this tag set, Twigkit knows exactly how to invoke and parse the results from not just Fusion, but a number of different data storage platforms. The Twigkit team has also worked hard to figure out all the most common components that data applications need, ranging from the search box itself, to faceting, pagination, auto-suggest, charting, dashboarding and maps. Chances are, no matter how you want your data displayed, Twigkit has made it easy for you. And if for some reason Twigkit doesn’t have the components you need, it’s all extensible with full documented APIs.

Twigkit’s federation layer and engine agnostic approach to application building makes everything easier for customers without the need to fight over backend IT minutiae. It allows us to seamlessly replace legacy search solutions without disrupting the application, and in far less time. Combine this with Fusion’s intelligent signal processing layer and our machine learning capabilities and you have the makings of a product capable of delivering the whole application, at scale, with zero downtime and with deep, actionable insights into both the data and the users.

Want to Learn More?

Since Twigkit already works with Lucidworks Fusion, people interested in trying out the two products need only download the two parts and follow the included instructions. Over the coming months, our two teams will be working to more tightly integrate the two applications together as well as deliver on a number of new features. As always, if you have any questions on where to start or how you might use this new combined solution, feel free to contact us.

We’re Just Getting Started

As excited as I am about our new ability to tell better visual stories, I’m even more excited about welcoming to the Lucidworks team a passionate group of people led by two founders with a vision for making search and data visualization easier, more impactful, and a whole lot more beautiful. Having known Twigkit founder Stefan Olafsson and Bjarki Holm for some time now, I couldn’t be happier to extend a heartfelt congratulations on seeing their company through to the next level as well as a big “Welcome aboard!”

Join us for our upcoming webinar:

Building Beautiful Data Apps
with Twigkit and Fusion
May 17, 08:30 am PST
Full details and registration.

Full press release.