Opening the door to semantic search in Magnolia

In the past couple of months, by pure coincidence, we have been in contact with two independent companies providing semantic search services. Less coincidentally, customers have been asking for semantic search features in Magnolia for months. Trending topic ? Yeah, pretty much. While it can sound like a mishmash of buzzwords, “semantic search” can mean a lot of different things, but generally provides different – or new – ways of looking at, and navigating, your content.

In this blog post, I’ll expose a few of the problems we have with regular searches in Magnolia, and how we’ve implemented a module that allows using the above mentioned services, bringing semantics into Magnolia !

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Growing and shrinking

Two exciting things happening at once !

One, we’re finally getting rid of a bunch of old “stuff” in Magnolia’s main codebase. A very welcome diet, as some of that code has been lying around unused or deprecated for two years or more. It’s also a relief to see that this will incidentally increase our code coverage and/or help making some classes a little more testable. There’s still a long way to go in that area though !

Second, we’re moving a bunch of modules, which have been nurtured internally, to the community space. Watch out for

  • In place templating – yes! You’ll be able to edit (Freemarker) templates directly from inside Magnolia ! Support for JSP isn’t impossible, but involved some much hassle (JSPs have to be on the file system) that we decided to leave that as an exercise for the reader. I’m pretty convinced everyone will love the Freemarker support we’ve introduced though. It takes a bit getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s so much cleaner than JSP… <insert bad-taste pun about never coming back>.
  • Resources – a simple module that allows one to handle web resources in a separate workspace and within Magnolia. CSS is currently supported, we’re hoping to add support for Javascript and images soonish, making this a one-stop shop for all your layout/design resources.
  • Form – build simple forms within Magnolia, and process them. Elegant css-based layout for your forms, a simple API for processing the results.
  • Webdav support – still experimental, but we’re hoping to get this to work for DMS, templates, and so on.
Care to help out ?
Some more info:
  http://wiki.magnolia-cms.com/display/DEV/Roadmap+4.0
  http://wiki.magnolia-cms.com/display/DEV/Concepts