dtSearch Desktop 6.06
dtSearch makes a fast search engine for text data that's been around
for over a decade now. I looked at version 6.0 back in December The company
has been kind enough to send me their most recent revision, so here's
an updated review. I took a look at the Desktop member of their product
line, which also includes a network version, a version to add searching
to your web site, and a developer version of the search engine (more on
that later). To use dtSearch, you choose the data that you're interested
in and turn it loose to build its own index. To give the software a thorough
test, I indexed 850,000 or so files that I had hanging around. This took
about three hours -- which is about a third of the time that version 6.0
took on the same machine, so there have been substantial increases in
speed. One change is that the new version is much smarter about handling
binary files, not trying to interpret them as text in most cases.
Finding things with the index is infinitely faster than finding them
without it. A search on "guinea fowl" on my desktop, for example, pulls
out 48 documents containing those silly birds from the index in less than
a second. The dtSearch Desktop interface than allows browsing through
the found documents, displaying them in its own interface or letting you
launch external viewers, with the search text highlighted. Supported search
options include Boolean, stemmed, fuzzy, synonym, phonic, phrase, and
"near" searches. dtSearch can also search unindexed documents, though
this slows it down substantially.
You can build multiple indexes and search them all at once with the FindPlus
feature, which also enables a desktop user to make use of a network index
for additional searching. This opens the possibility of distributed search
indexing. The program understands quite a few file formats, having no
trouble pulling information out of Word, Excel, Access, or Outlook files,
as well as common formats such as RTF or PDF.
I also took a look at the dtSearch engine from a programmer's point of
view. You can incorporate dtSearch's index and search technology within
your own application through either a C++ API or through supplied ActiveX
objects. Either way you have access to the entire range of indexing and
searching functionality. There are a variety of ways to license the engine,
including a single server license ($999), royalty-based licenses starting
at $2500 or royalty-free licenses starting at $9995. The sample code that
I looked at worked well from VB.
If you're buried in documents and need to find things quickly, and have
plenty of hard drive space, dtSearch Desktop offers a straightforward
interface and impressive speed - and the speed just keeps getting better.
If you need wide-ranging search capabilities in your own application,
their Text Retrieval Engine package is definitely worth considering.
[This review originally appeared in developer central 1.8.editor]
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.