• Search, Ricky Truth. The Algolia API

    Mon, Jul 11 2016


    As part of an ongoing Holistic self-promotion, I had a chance to integrate the Algolia search engine into my website. "Search, Ricky Truth" is the call to action for a campaign of print and e-mail outreach pieces combined with an SEO effort I am currently working on. In addition to the campaign, I thought a site search engine and search navigation on the site would tie the _idea together.

    I researched several possibilities Google Custom Search Engine, Elasticsearch, Solr, and Algolia. Google Custom Search has no free version and the UI/UX for the service (and the majority of Google's projects) is incredibly unintuitive and frustrating. I've had some previous experience with Solar the installation process and setup are too time-consuming for this project and its indexing and crawling can be very resource intensive. That left Elasticsearch and Algolia I choose Algolia because I liked the format of the documentation much better and the Github single sign-on made signing up for the service a single click. Easy.

    I began a test integration in Angularjs using the Javascript API. My data was already being hosted on Cloudant in JSON format so adding an index to Algolia was as simple as copy & pasting my _alldocs view on Cloudant into a text file and uploading it. I was searching through my data in a minute or two; I'm impressed at how fast the API connection is. You get keystroke filtered results in microseconds.

    I experienced a small speedbump in the learning curve when I started working with ranking and display. For some reason when I wanted to filter the search with "facetFilters" no results would return until I added an arbitrary value to the "Attributes to highlight" section of settings, weird. The only other negative experience I had with the API was that it requires to add, edit, and delete API calls to originate from HTTPS. That meant I had to install an SSL certificate on my local server just to test out those calls. That nearly made me ditch the service; that's incredibly un-userfriendly for someone researching a service. I went through the extra effort and installed a local SSL, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    That being said Algolia is still excellent service and one I would recommend.

    • search
    • holistic
    • api
    • javascript
    • self-promotion
    • SaaS