Playing with Google Mini


Thanks to Colm (who's finally published the much expected but-how-do-you-pronounce-your-name post) I got to play a bit with their Google Mini.

To summarize, it feels like a solid but basic search appliance. The ranking looks good, and it's an important feature for Joe User. On the other hand, "advanced" features like multi-language stemming, date range searches and the much expected "did you mean?" keyword suggestions don't seem to be available.

I haven't been able to dig in the configuration parameters, but there doesn't seem to be much in terms of enabling more precise "database-like" searches in addition to full text.

At this point, my conclusion would be that the mini is a nice out-of-the-box solution for "usual" search requirements, but toolboxes like SOLR can enable a much wider range of uses (dynamic RSS feeds, automatic generation of website navigations, faceted browsing, etc.).

Of course, products like SOLR will require more work to setup than just plugging the thing into your network - but the Mini is not free either, and gets more expensive the more documents you need to index.

Anyway, here's a summary of my findings about the Mini:

  • Processing of French accented characters works, searching for "referencement" finds "rĂ©fĂ©rencement" (that's an easy one).
  • Language inference looks good, a document in French is marked as such.
  • French stemming did not work in my tests, searching for analyse de code did not find a document containing analyses de code, even though it had been recognized as French. That's a big drawback IMHO.
  • English stemming does not seem to work either.
  • Did you mean? suggestions do not seem to be implemented, searching for jawa language did not suggest java language.
  • Date-based searches do not seem to be implemented.

All in all, assuming my tests are valid, it seems like the Mini is missing many of the niceties that the real Google has spoiled us with.