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Fluid Dynamics Search Engine
Fluid Dynamics Search Engine is an easy-to-install
search engine for local and remote sites. We review
the search engine that promises to offer high quality
search queries and results at the fraction of the
cost of paid subscription services.
Fluid Dynamics Search Engine is a product developed
by Fluid Dynamics Software Corporation ( www.xav.com
) which runs from offices in Delaware, US. The following
application description has been carefully scrutinised
and edited by us and is based heavily on information
generously provided by Fluid Dynamics Software.
Fluid Dynamics offers a 10% special offer discount
to users of AbleStable®. Go to http://www.xav.com/scripts/search/ablestable.html
to enjoy this benefit.
The Fluid Dynamics Search Engine (we'll mostly refer
to this as FDSE from here on) is a search engine that
you install on your own web site. Visitors to your
site use it to find files on your site or on a small
cluster of sites. FDSE returns fast, accurate results
from a template-driven architecture. Freeware and
shareware versions are available with Perl source
FDSE contrasts with search engines like Google and
AltaVista which search the entire Internet. FDSE limits
its' searches to web sites that you define, and can
handle about 10,000 documents in all (far far less
than a large search engine like Google but more than
enough for all but the largest web site. Although
FDSE handles less documents than larger search engines,
it is qualitatively identical to them.
FDSE runs well on Unix, Linux, and Windows, and is
completely template-based: you control the entire
look-and-feel of the site by editing text/html template
files. The code is modular and heavily commented for
the benefit of those who want to change the code at
FDSE runs entirely on a Perl-CGI-enabled web server
so visitors aren't redirected to a separate centralised
server to get their results (as with Atomz and Freefind).
FDSE is not suitable for non-CGI web servers, or for
searching files when a web server is not available,
such as a CD-ROM. FDSE was designed to provide a rich
feature set which requires more memory and processor
power and may not therefore be suitable to those with
limited hosting facilities.
FDSE is a 'flat' search engine, that is, it accepts
keywords and shows a ranked list of search results.
It does not organise pages into browsable categories
and subcategories like Yahoo.
The FDSE code is 100% pure Perl, and you can use the
system with plain file databases. In addition you
may also configure your own keyword-triggered banner
FDSE offers highly customisable filter rules allowing
you to programmatically control which web pages are
included in the index. Resource-intensive actions
like indexing entire web sites are spread across multiple
CGI executions using META refreshes. This prevents
web server timeouts due to excessive resource usage,
and allows the action to recover if some individual
CGI executions fail.
Although searches are limited to text and HTML files,
you may also search PDF files with a free helper application
(help file). A document's text, keywords, description,
title, and address are all extracted and used for
In action FDSE provides a feature-rich search results
display which includes: the title, description, size,
last modified time, and address of each document.
FDSE lists search results by relevance, that is, documents
are sorted by the number of keyword hits, so that
the most relevant document appears first. Search terms
found in the title, keywords, or description are given
In addition to the comprehensive features above there
are a host of others which go beyond the scope of
this article. We'd recommend visiting Fluid Dynamics
Software's web site ( www.xav.com
) to view the comprehensive feature list which includes
international support, auditing, and site blacklisting.
The Fluid Dynamics Search Engine is one of those rare
products that show how software should be produced.
Larger businesses may shy away from investing in what
is an outstanding search engine with the mistaken
belief that nothing this good could come at so reasonable
a price, they'd be wrong.
Search Enabling: Options
If you want to search enable your web site you have
1. Use an external search-enabling service
2. Use Microsoft's Front Page indexing system (you'll
be restricted to Windows servers allowing Microsoft
Front Page extensions)
3. Install search enabling software on your server
(only an option for those hosting their sites on their
4. Purchase software that allows you to search enable
acceptable server protocol
FDSE comes into the fourth of these categories.
Outsourcing Search Enabling
We'll briefly touch on the first category as this
is the only option for many web sites: that of choosing
to outsource your search enabling.
There are a few good search enabling services out
there, the most notable being Atomz,
Free Find and
Search. Of these we feel Pico Search provides
more for your money and we like the flexibility it
offers in the kinds of searches and results it provides.
The main drawbacks for independent and small companies
of subscribing to paid search enabling services are
the ongoing costs and outsourcing issues associated
Atomz, Free Find and Pico Search offer 'free' search
enabling, but there's an unacceptable payoff, all
free search enabling comes with associated banner
advertisement. If you're running a commercial site
we'd strongly advise against this method of search
enabling your site as it carries two distinct and
important disadvantages: firstly, banner adds drive
traffic away from your site, and secondly, you have
no control over the businesses who advertise on your
site. Search enabling solutions like the Fluid Dynamics
Search Engine does not run banner adds and allows
search enabling on web sites for a one-off low payment.
The Fluid Dynamics Search
Engine in Action
In use FDSE installs easily, there's an 'auto install'
option that runs from the FDSE developer's site for
those who are not confident about installing CGI or
Pearl scripts on their server. Once installed the
first and most welcome sight is the Administration
Area (which is accessible over the Internet and is
password protected). The Admin Area is well thought
out with a host of intuitive template driven commands.
As users of FDSE browse through the various Administration
sections they'll soon realise they've invested in
a comprehensive and powerful search engine for their
web site. We were very impressed by the level of control
and customisation available, and by dedicating a little
study and time, web sites can offer searches that
are comparable to those that only paid subscription
could previously boast.
There are also very powerful features of FDSE that
we have only touched upon so far. FDSE allows web
sites to position advertising against certain keyword
searches. If you have an informational or portal site
that you wish to generate revenue by charging advertisers
to advertise on keyword search results FDSE provides
a solution. This feature would be particularly suitable
for larger sites processing hundreds of searches per
day. FDSE also allows you to monitor your web site's
search requests which is an invaluable tool in assessing
the effectiveness of your site's structure and content
FDSE allows users to manage their searches easily
by allowing users to rebuild their indexes from the
Administration Area. The Indexes form the source information
of the search engine as it 'scans' previously indexed
information very quickly on the server then passes
the results back to the viewer as search results.
If the Fluid Dynamics Search Engine is set up well
(and that's an easy task with the excellent Administration
Area), FDSE can produce fast accurate search results.
One of the few improvements we'd like to suggest for
any future release of FDSE is to broaden the kinds
of files that can be searched for. We'd like to see
the easy implementation of Flash and pdf files as
search options from within the Admin Area, and perhaps
the development of the Administrative Area to include
more ready made search boxes with help comments to
assist users in implementing a site wide search engine.
We're certain this would be easily achievable and
a real benefit to the general user.
In conclusion, if your server offers CGI and Perl,
we have no hesitation in recommencing the Fluid Dynamics
Search Engine as an excellent search enabling system
for your web site. FDSE offers you what you need,
a dependable, affordable and highly configurable solution.
The Fluid Dynamics Search Engine is available at www.xav.com.
Users of AbleStable® can enjoy a special
offer discount of 10% on FDSE. Go to http://www.xav.com/scripts/search/ablestable.html
to enjoy this benefit.
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