An Introduction to Exalead

Eric B. lets us know about a new web engine called Exalead.

This Paris-based company has been around since 1999 and continues enterprise search

Their “public” search product is a showcase, what they call a demonstrator, of their technology.

You can read more about the company in this Red Herring article. It mentions that AOL France uses the Exalead database and technology. The article also contain a few comments from our own Chris Sherman.

The company plans to enter the desktop search market “soon”.

Exalead offers many advanced search features (several unavailable from other major engines) and is worth of a look.

Let’s take a look.

What does Exalead offer? Here’s an overview of some key features.

* A unique web index containing more than one billion pages. At least this is what their news release says. The total on the home page is much smaller. Hmmm. A page submission form is available.

UPDATE: Francois Bourdoncle from Exalead let us know that the index is currently at 300,000,000 (as noted on the home page) but should reach 400,000,000 by next week. They expect to hit the one billion mark in th next month or so.

* “Basic search” uses a default “and”. It also provides automatic stemming if you search with more than one term. Auto stemming is disabled when you place the + sign in front of a term.

* Unlike all other major web engines, Exalead offers a proximity operator (AltaVista used to have one). The NEAR operator finds documents where the query terms are within 16 words of each other.
* Several options to “widen your query” including stemming/truncation (using the * symbol), optional terms, and pattern searching (very cool!)

* Limit to a domain with site:
* Limit to words in title with title:
* Limit to documents in a specific language with lang:

The advanced interface offers four “search methods”
* Phonetic search
* Auto Word stemming
* Exact Search
* Approximate Spelling

Exalead indexes PDF, RTF, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Adobe Acrobat files.

Search Result pages offer many features including:
* Related terms (other terms you might want to search)
* Related categories (drops you into the ODP)
* Limit results by format or location
* Limit results to multimedia content (pages that include links to audio and video content)
* Spelling suggestions
* Thumbnail images for all results can be turned on/off. You can also choose to not have a snippet visible.
* You’re able to open a result link directly inside a frame on the serp. You can also bookmark pages. Bookmarks can be transported to your IE favorites file.

Bottom Line?
I’ve tried several searches and while Exalead is not perfect (this is a beta release) the results I’ve seen aren’t bad at all (I’ve seen much worse). I’m also very impressed with the amount of functionality Exalead offers the searcher. I’ll continue to test I’ll report back.
Btw, according to this page, you can register to access more advanced search features. I’ll let you know what they are.

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