May 30th, 2003

Product Report: Convera / Excalibur RetrievalWare

This is an off-site copy of the corresponding Product report page on the website, and it is designed to allow you to comment on the product and/or the reporting. For more information about the topic of search and tools visit where you can browse many articles, in-depth analysis and overviews of external resources.

Convera / Excalibur RetrievalWare

RetrievalWare Product Information (full enterprise search engine)
RetrievalWare WebExpress Product Information (web site search engine)

see also SearchTools Report on Knowledge Management

Platforms: Microsoft Windows NT and 2000, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, Compaq Tru64 Unix (formerly Digital Unix), Linux, IBM AIX, possibly also FreeBSD, NetBSD and Darwin (Mac OS X)


  • Powerful search engine uses a semantic network to expand queries for more complete recall, good for research and discovery searches.
  • Includes thesaurus, morphological analysis (beyond just stemming), tracking idioms, recognizing multiple meanings of words, fuzzy searching.
  • Cross-lingual searches based on internal semantic network for English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.
  • Supports over 200 document types, including Lotus /Domino, FileNET Panagon, Microsoft Exchange, and Documentum
  • Internet Spider module follows links to locate pages to search.
  • Native bridges to Oracle, Sybase, Informix and MS SQL databases, and ODBC bridge for other databases.
  • Scales across multiple search engine servers.
  • Powerful security model tracks authorization status across all instances of RetrievalWare. Additional security and authentication interfaces for third-party proxies and cross-repository authentication.
  • Java Server Page Toolkit provides complete access to all search engine features via Java classes, allows programmers to customize indexing, interface, searching, relevance rank and results display functions.
  • APIs in C, C++, COM, ASP, J2EE. .Net client and servers, Web Services, and XML queries.
  • Additional Modules
    • Categorization tools with multiple level taxonomies, can use explicit queries, fuzzy logic (good for ignoring OCR errors) and overriding Boolean control.
    • Alerting based on profiles.
    • Visual RetrievalWare, also SDK version includes video clip indexing and fuzzy search, color, shape, texture indexing. Video Analysis Engine for automated shot-boundary detection, clip similarity matching with pattern recognition. Supports third-party and custom modules for image and video "feature extraction". Memory and Time Code conversion APIs. Video formats: AVI, FIT, MPEG2, PIT, QT, TYS, and SMJ
    • Image search, with formats: BMP, DDIF, GIF, ICO, JFIF, PDA, PNG, TIFF, XBM, PCX, PNM, SGIRGB, TGA and XPM
    • Audio search available through consulting.
    • Federated search integrating Intelliseek engine.

Articles and Press Releases

  • Unstructured Information Management Report Infosphere, March, 2003 by Magnus Stensmo and Mikael Thorson, $325/€295 for a single PDF license
    General report on search and categorization tools. Praises the company maturity, unique integration of text and image searching, ability to handle large volumes and disparate sources.

  • Finding the Right Stuff KMWorld Magazine, May 2003 by Judith Lamont of Zentek
    Describes how the US Naval Research Laboratory provides access to over a million articles, research reports and conference proceedings. The search enigne, Convera RetrievalWare, is designed to be used without training, to limit searches within categories, perform concept queries, and automatically expand queries to include synonyms. The digital library as a whole saves researchers at least two hours per week, far above the expected amount. Also covers a project at Sandia National Lab to digitize and search training materials with Convera Screening Room.

  • I still haven't found what I'm looking for... Search engine technology works both ways Newpapers & Technology, December 2002 by Hays Goodman
    Describes webwide seach engine submission issues, and site search tool for news sites. Examples are Atomz at, which replaced Netscape and Excite search engines, and was so successful that it is now being used at many of the Gannett newpaper sites. The Deseret News has used Convera RetrievalWare domvr 1998, apparently on both internal and public sites.

  • Excalibur Product Line given New Life as Part of Convera Giga Information Group, January 18, 2001 by Kathleen Hall
    Predicts that the Excalibur text search engine and associated functions will continue to be useful in the foreseeable future.

  • Search Engines: The Hunt Is On Network Computing Magazine: October 16, 2000 by Avi Rappoport
    In-depth discussion of search engines for e-commerce and other web sites covers features and future trends, software vs. services, database vs. text searching, natural-language searching, and open-source search engines covering ht://Dig and mnoGoSearch (formerly UdmSearch). The testing included indexing over 150,000 pages, and covered administration tools, customization, search features, relevance ranking and search logs. Products were Ultraseek (then Inktomi Search) (which won Editor's Choice), AltaVista Search, and Excalibur RetrievalWare, services were Atomz Enterprise Search and Searchbutton Corporate, which has since addressed some of the shortcomings reported. Also included an email poll of Network Computing readers.

  • Excalibur's RetrievalWare sharpens IT's edge in KM PC Week, August 1 1999 by Christa Degnan
    Short article quoting customer British Gas, praising the product's search through many information sources and document-level security.

  • Profit and Value: Rope in knowledge with powerful new knowledge management software Datamation June 1998, by Dan Richman Long overview of knowledge management, including definitions, thoughts about the nature of knowledge, knowledge bases. Tools described include Dataware and Excalibur Retrievalware.
  • Excalibur adds NetOwl Extractor to RetrievalWare KMWorld, June 11, 1998
    RetrievalWare version 6.6 includes modules to specify names of people, places and organizations.

  • Indexing the Video Frontier Wired News, February 5, 1998 by Chris Oakes
    Describes the issues of indexing and searching video data, which is much harder than text. Algorithms must find meta patterns, such as scene changes, to break down the data into manageable parts -- and these are different in different genres of video, such as documentaries or sports. Products make good use of closed-captioned text, text within the video and analysis of audio tracks to create storyboards and previews. More subtle indexing will require image analysis and pattern recognition. Products also work with Microsoft's NetShow streaming audio and video products. Includes information about Excalibur, Virage and Magnifi.



  • WebWare MAMBO brand-management and media asset management integrates Convera Retrievalware (6/11/2002).
  • Stellant Content Management
  • Vignette Content Management
  • Documentum