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Product Report: WAIS

This is an off-site copy of the corresponding Product report page on the SearchTools.com 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 SearchTools.com where you can browse many articles, in-depth analysis and overviews of external resources.

WAIS

"Wide Area Information Server" search engine based on parallel processing search algorithms developed at Thinking Machines in the 1980s. Free source makes this a widely used engine, although I personally don't like the default relevance rankings in the results.

Warning: old versions of WAIS may not be Y2K-compliant: if you're running it, check your code.

  • freeWAWIS-sf An extension of freeWAIS adding structured fields such as number and dates; complex Boolean searches, improved installation and more. This page includes a note about the date problems with versions earlier than 2.0.41.

FrontPage WAIS

Microsoft has included a version of WAIS in various releases of FrontPage.

Articles & Reviews

  • Comparing Open Source Indexers Infomotions Musings; May 29, 2001 by Eric Lease Morgan
    Describes the history and features of eight open-source search engines, freeWAIS-sf (aging code and hard to install, but good for searching email and public domain etexts); Harvest (powerful gathering features for frequently-changing data stores, good with structured documents); ht://Dig (tricky to configure, no phrase searching, automatic stemming and match word highlighting); Isearch (weak documentation and support, easy to install, dated interface, Z39.50 support); MPS Information Server (zippy indexing of both text and structured data, Z39.50 support, Perl API, limited documentation); SWISH-E (simple to install engine, CGIs in Perl and PHP still beta, good for HTML pages, recognizes new META tags, sorts results by field; WebGlimpse (easy to install and configure, requires commercial version for customized output); Yaz/Zebra (mainly Z39.50, no Perl API, mainly a toolkit to index and respond to distributed client queries). Article also points out that chaotic information is less than helpful and encourages organization, structure and vocabulary control.

  • Internet Publishing Handbook: WAIS and Indexing Alternatives
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