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   RE: xml search engine?

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  • From: Walter Underwood <wunder@infoseek.com>
  • To: <martind@netfolder.com>, <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 09:46:09 -0800

At 11:03 PM -0500 3/31/00, Didier PH Martin wrote:
>Didier replies:
>Tell me if I am wrong but is the hit quality caused by the stemming

Probably due to phrase inference and phrase searching, since most 
of the words in the query are already in root form (exceptions: 
"got", "causes"). Stemming certainly helps, as do good ranking
algorithms, page quality metrics, HTML parsers, etc.

>An other question: When will the infoseek engine return an XML document to a
>request? Is it planned, a work in progress, not envisioned at all?

Ultraseek Server has been doing that for about a year. We added it
to the text/plain parsable format that we've had for three years.
Surprisingly, the XML format has almost no advantages over text/plain
in practice (and it was my idea). We now recommend using our new 
Java API instead of writing your own parser for either format.

Here's an example of what the user-written code looks like for
the two formats (from memory).

Fragment of SAX DocumentHandler.endElement():

  if (elementName.equals("title")) { ...

Fragment of text/plain parser:

  if (line.startsWith("title:")) { ...

And so on. The two parsers were equally easy programming tasks.
That is a compliment to the SAX interface, I guess, but in this
application, all it meant was that one required the user to
find a SAX-compliant parser and the other was standalone.

If we were designing the parsable format today, we would use 
XML instead of text/plain. But it wouldn't make the format
marvelously more powerful, just slightly more standard.

Walter R. Underwood
Senior Staff Engineer
Infoseek Software, part of go.com
wunder@infoseek.com (work)

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