We have changed the search mechanism on the site from the standard ‘Joomla Search’ to make use of ‘Smart Search’.
This will hopefully enable a ‘richer’ environment for our visitors. The implementation itself was relatively painless. Our own Issue Tracker component, and the standard supplied components such as content etc. worked flawlessly ‘out of the box’. In additional a finder plugin for our Blog was also found and implemented very easily.
Only our Forum component gave rise to any problems. It was necessary to prevent sh404SEF from interfering in the URL generation so that the Forum used the ‘standard Joomla router’ for its links. This also involved removing from the sh404SEF component all history of the forum component. Once this was done then it was plain sailing.
The only point that should be emphasised is that the ‘Smart Search’ does not make use of ‘wild card’ characters. The ‘old’ Joomla search mechanism used a very primitive method of searching which relied on the FULLTEXT search provided by the database. This was very inefficient but provided a simple means of handling wildcard search queries. Smart Search provides an auto-complete feature which is effectively a wildcard search of terms in the index, but full wildcard searching is not supported due to the potential for crippling the server if the feature were to be abused. In most cases wildcard searching is used to cater for variations in a search term. For example, searching for "juggl*" in order to catch references to "juggling" as well as "juggler". Smart Search attempts to avoid the need for wildcard searching by instead supporting word stemming where words that have the same stem are considered equivalent so that searching for "juggler" will also retrieve instances of "juggling" without the need to use wildcards.