A recent Slashdot poster asked for Solr-powered “Attractive Open Source Search Interfaces”.  First, for some inspiration on what you might want to have in a search user interface, check out Peter Morville’s excellent set of screenshot examples.  One of my favorite examples is, of course, from the library space.  Morville showcases the NCSU library system site on one of his sets:

Several Solr-powered open source faceted navigation search systems for libraries have been built with various technologies:  Blacklight (Ruby on Rails), VUFind (PHP), Kochief (Django), MULtifacet (Drupal). The question is, how general purpose are these user interfaces for non-library uses?  In theory they could all be purposed in this way, as every library really has a need to customize the UI.  Blacklight, for example, is written up in the Solr 1.4 book (by Smiley and Pugh) with a showcase that works on their MusicBrainz example.

The tough part of generalizing a search UI is that what we all really want is a custom-for-us UI, one that is as flexible as our imagination.  And it must fit pragmatically into the technology constraints of our operation.  For some, Ruby on Rails is the ONLY way to go, for others a Java-based UI tier is the only technology that fits.

Here are some pointers to various other UI technologies on top of Solr:

  • Solritas – Apache Velocity templating.  Available, with some config, in Solr 1.4.
  • Solr Flare – a proof of concept RoR UI plugin, does Ajax suggest, faceted navigation, saved (session-based) searches, and more.
  • AJAX Solr – JavaScript, purely client-side widgets

These are covered a bit with screenshots in my EdUI presentation “Solr Flair: Search User Interfaces Powered by Apache Solr”.

What other open source UI frameworks live on top of Solr?  Add a comment with a pointer!

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