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Search Tools News 2003

July 14, 2003

Ultraseek Version 5.1 improves Layout and Reporting Tools

Ultraseek Version 5.1 improves the results page layout system, moving from a set of HTML templates with Python code to a more interactive approach which can be delegated to web site managers or search administration assistants. New search log analysis and reporting provides additional data and trend analysis. Other features include generating titles from content for untitled documents, options to cluster search results by path, and a long-time Verity feature, search term highlighting in target pages when the user follows a search result link. Can now index StarOffice, OpenOffice and zipped (compressed) documents.

Autonomy To Buy Virage, Extend MultiMedia Search

Autonomy, which includes multimedia search as part of its suite of information management applications, announced that it will acquire competitor Virage. Convera Retrievalware is the only major competitor left in audio/image/video search, although some interesting and innovative technologies are available. For more information, see the SearchTools report on Multimedia Search.

Yahoo To Buy Overture

In a continuing consolidation of search technology companies, Yahoo has announced it is buying the pay-per-click search company Overture. Overture, which owns two web search engines, AltaVista and AllTheWeb (formerly from FAST), and Yahoo bought the web search part of Inktomi, so it now owns three of the largest web search engines. However, the enterprise search divisions were never included in these acquisitions, with FAST retaining its enterprise search and getting AltaVista Enterprise, and Inktomi's enterprise search (now Ultraseek) sold to Verity.

July 2, 2003

Panoptic Search: New Search Tool

Based on research at Australia's CSIRO, Panoptic Search scales to millions of documents, indexes by crawler, file system or database connection, has extensive metadata and XML tag support, spellchecker, page customization and caching. Available as a search appliance (preconfigured server), Linux, Solaris or Windows 2000 software, or as a remote search service on the panopticsearch hosts.

June 25, 2003

Search Conference List Updated

The list of conferences relating to search and information retrieval is now current. Avi Rappoport of SearchTools is presenting a full-day Usable Search tutorial at the Nielsen-Norman Usability Week in Chicago (Sept. 25) and London (Oct. 10). She will be speaking and moderating panels at The Gilbane Conference on Content Management at Seybold and KM World & Intranets 2003.

June 19, 2003

Spy-Server: New Search Tool

Java servlet search engine for web sites (also has as CD search version), can index and display results in English, German, Spanish, French, Croatian, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and 32 character sets. It supports Boolean query operators, stemming and synonyms, has an HTML template system for results page layout.

June 17, 2003

FAST buys AltaVista Enterprise Search Business

FAST (Fast Search and Transfer) has purchased the AltaVista Enterprise Search business from Overture, which will retain the Web portal search engine. This move is eerily reminiscent of the breakup of Inktomi, with the Web portal search engine purchased by Yahoo! and the enterprise search engine (Ultraseek) by Verity, and the recent sale of the FAST web portal AllTheWeb to Overture. However in this case, the AltaVista Enterprise Search Engine will be supported but not developed further, and customers will be encouraged to move to the Fast Enterprise Search platform.

June 4, 2003

Northern Light Resurfaces at divine Bankruptcy Auction

The former CEO of Northern Light has reacquired rights to the name and search technology, hired staff, and plans to support customers and finally release the enterprise search engine.

May 29, 2003

Kanisa Buys AskJeeves Enterprise Division

Kanisa, a developer of customer service and self-service software, will acquire Jeeves Solutions, which has marketed their search engine to enterprise customers both in self-service and more general searching. Kanisa had previously included natural-language searching and will presumably incorporate Jeeves' search features and metrics.

Adobe Chooses Lextek Onix for Acrobat Search Engine

Adobe will be incorporating the Onix search engine, developed by Lextek, into Acrobat 6.0. This will make Acrobat documents on hard disks and local networks easy to search in text and metadata.

April 10, 2003

Search Usability Workshop

Starting with material presented in a workshop at CHI 20003, this group of researchers will be publishing design patterns and other tools for designing usable search engines interfaces. Papers from the workshop are on the site now, and there will be more information soon. Avi Rappoport of SearchTools is coordinating a bibliography of search usability papers: to be included, contact us. A start to this bibliography appears on the SearchTools UI page.

March 27, 2003

Evaluating 25 E-Commerce Search Engines

Research firm performed systematic evaluation on searching online stores. Criteria were accuracy and relevance for simple searches, handling misspellings, responding to "mixed" specifications (such as color, size and material in the same search), automatically expanding to synonyms and related terms, providing options for sorting and filtering results, and handling failed searches where no matches were found. They found that 92% of the commerce sites (including Lands' End, Amazon,, QVC and the Apple Store) found relevant results for standard searches, but most had significant problems with the other tests. Includes detailed analysis and screenshots of the results, and rating for each site. $99 from 37Signals.

March 5, 2003

Presentations on the state of search engines, on the Web and in enterprise intranets. Also covers information filtering, categorization, metadata extraction and related topics. This is conference most closely focused on enterprise search engines, and always has interesting presentations from both researchers and commercial developers.

February 25, 2003

FAST Selling Web Search to Overture, Concentrating on Enterprise Search

Fast Search and Transfer, a Norwegian search engine company, has announced that it's selling its Internet Business unit to Overture. The assets sold include the webwide search engine, the search portal, and the partner services which provide search to such sites as Lycos. Overture, which recently purchased the search company AltaVista, is a leading pay-for-placement Web search engine. FAST plans to concentrate on enterprise search products, which are currently used on large corporate web sites, government sites and Intranets. See the press release for more details.

February 24, 2003

Intranet Search: Separate Directory and Information Search Fields

Jakob Nielsen Alertbox issue describes the seemingly contradictory requirements for a single search box on an Intranet main page vs. the value of a specialized search for employee telephone numbers and other directory information. Recommends providing two search fields, labeling very clearly and testing the interface design to reduce confusion.

February 20, 2003

Thunderstone Ships Search Appliance

Thunderstone, is now shipping a hardware-software Search Appliance, a 1u rack-mountable search server. Thunderstone develops the Webinator search engine software and the Texis search-oriented relational database manager. The new appliance can handle up to one million pages, a thousand searches per minute and includes all the Webinator search engine features.

FreeFind Search Service Adds Query Features

The remote search ASP FreeFind now offers phrase searching in addition to match "any words" or "all words". It also handles wildcards and recognizes Boolean AND, OR and NOT operators.

February 19, 2003

Overture Buys AltaVista Corporation

AltaVista, a pioneering web search engine, is being acquired by Overture, which provides pay-for-performance search services on public web sites for $140 million in cash and stock. While there is no public statement on future directions for the AltaVista Enterprise Search products, the company has indicated that it will continue to support current customers.

Yahoo! Buys Inktomi Corporation

Inktomi, which has provided web-wide search services for such portals as MSN, HotBot and, is being acquired by Yahoo! for approximately $235 million. Late in 2002, the company had sold its enterprise search engine, now reverting to the original Ultraseek name, to Verity.


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