Last night, we hooked up a new search server to the PLoS journal websites and now search queries are returning results at blazing fast speeds. Now that the new search server is in place, we’re working on a complete UI overhaul for search. We should complete the development in a few weeks and launch the much-improved search UI in May.
The new search server is using Solr, an Open Source search server originally developed by CNET Networks, with the Lucene search engine. We moved search from the Mulgara triple-store to its own server which improved the performance of search dramatically. In fact, the new search server has improved the overall performance of the PLoS journal websites by a factor of ten. Articles that would take 2.7 seconds to appear are taking just 0.27 seconds.
The new search server also allows us to add a lot of new features to the advanced search form and to the search results page. The next release of Ambra will add a query builder for power searches and a greatly improved search results page including article usage statistics from our Article Level Metrics project. The PLoS development team is hard at work on these new features which we will launch in May.