Product Reviews

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

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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