What are Elasticsearch and Apache Solr ? For dummies

658 views September 27, 2016 March 8, 2017 wpsolr 2

This short introduction to Elasticsearch and Solr server should help you start quicker with Elasticsearch / Solr installation and configuration.

Elasticsearch and Apache Solr are open source search engines. In fact, they are the most widely used search servers.

Search engine

A full-text search engine is built from the ground to tackle problems that a SQL search find difficult or impossible.

The list of those features is huge: multi-language, dedicated plugins to extend the engine, synonyms, stop words, facets, boosts, …

The core search engine of Elasticsearch and Apache Solr is Apache Lucene.


Elasticsearch and Apache Solr are web applications. A client will use their http API to query or store data.

Open source

The source code of Elasticsearch and Apache Solr are respectively maintained by Elasticsearch BV and the Apache foundation. You can read the code, and even contribute to improve/patch/add features.

Behind the scene

Elasticsearch and Apache Solr are written in java, and live in a http java container. In previous versions, Solr was deployed in a Tomcat container.

Configuration of Elasticsearch indexes

Elasticsearch index configuration is done with HTTP / JSON commands. No files required. You define types, mappings, analysis with simple commands.

wpsolr and Elasticsearch types

wpsolr and Elasticsearch types

Configuration of Solr indexes

Solr index configuration is done through 2 files: schema.xml and solrconfig.xml.

wpsolr and apache solr handlers

wpsolr and apache solr handlers

solrconfig.xml is configuring the “handlers”. Handlers are urls (remember the HTTP api above), executing plugins (java code) with their default configuration.

schema.xml is configuring your document structure (a document is made of fields with field types), and how field types are processed during indexing and querying.

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