Published: May 31, 2011 - 02:00

Enrich your Search: Taxonomies, Thesauri and Controlled Vocabulary

In an earlier article, we provided an overview outlining the possibilities of query transformations.

Reference article: Transforming Queries with Fabasoft Mindbreeze.

In this article we will discuss the Fabasoft Mindbreeze Synonym Transformer, a plugin which implements one particular transformation use case: Expanding the query by transforming a single user-provided query into multiple alternatives, thus dramatically increasing the possibility that users find what they are looking for.

This allows, for instance, a user to find the terms „automobile“ OR „vehicle“ OR „passenger car“ when the search term “car” is entered.

Taking things further, the mechanism can be used out-of-the-box to include associated terms. For instance a search for "analyst" can be expanded to "gartner" and "forrester".

Read about Taxonomies, Thesauri and Controlled Vocabulary.

Controlled vocabulary

To allow such transformations, the Synonym Transformer relies on a synonym database (similar to a thesaurus). For simplicity and easy editing, the synonym tables are stored in CSV files, which can be opened in spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers or OpenOffice. Each row in the table defines a list of synonyms, for example:

Car Passenger Car Automobile Vehicle
Analyst Forrester Gartner
Bureau Office Agency

Readily usable synonym database files can be downloaded for example from Gutenberg.

The Synonym Transformer periodically monitors the underlying CSV file, this allows users to edit the database at run time. After an update interval of less than a second, newly added synonyms are immediately usable.

Fabasoft Mindbreeze plugin architecture

To allow multiple extensions of Fabasoft Mindbreeze, we employ a flexible plugin architecture with so-called extension points. The Synonym Transformer is such a plugin and can be activated simply by installing it. This way development, maintenance and installation of multiple plugins becomes simple and straightforward. After installation, the query engines that are intended to use synonym transformations can be chosen in the Fabasoft Mindbreeze Enterprise - Configuration UI.

Synonym Transformer in action

In the screenshot below the user searched for "analyst", which is expanded to "analyst OR gartner OR forrester", therefore those term matches are highlighted.

For further questions please don't hesitate to contact us.