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Implement Full Text Search with Sphinx on Engine Yard Cloud

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Full text searching is a technique for searching all the words in every stored document in a database or other collection. This is done through a process of indexing the words and then searching through the indexes. Although it is possible to search documents for words using SQL, it is not efficient when dealing with a large number of files. Instead, specific full text tools such as Sphinx are generally used.

This page describes how to implement Sphinx (full text search) in a Rails 3 application using the Thinking Sphinx gem.

Thinking Sphinx connects ActiveRecord and the Sphinx search daemon, allowing your application to communicate with a Sphinx server.

Using Sphinx with your application

  1. Add the Thinking Sphinx gem to your Gemfile for Rails 3 (Thinking Sphinx.)

    gem 'thinking-sphinx', '2.0.3' 
  2. Read the page on using Custom Chef.

  3. Make the following edits to the sphinx default recipe in cookbooks/sphinx/recipes/default.rb

    • Set your application name.

      Set appname
    • Uncomment the thinking_sphinx flavor.

      Uncomment flavor
    • Set the cron_interval. For example, cron_interval=10 reindexes your data every 10 minutes.

      Cron interval
  4. Add deploy hooks by adding these lines to before_migrate.rb. For information about deploy hooks, see Use Deploy Hooks:

    run "ln -nfs #{shared_path}/config/sphinx #{release_path}/config/sphinx" 
    run "ln -nfs #{shared_path}/config/sphinx.yml #{release_path}/config/sphinx.yml"
  5. Use the ey gem to upload the cookbook:

    ey recipes upload -e environment_name 
  6. After the cookbook is uploaded, update your environment from the Dashboard.

    Update environment

Troubleshooting

This table contains troubleshooting tips related to setting up Sphinx with your application.

SymptomSolution
My files aren't being indexed. Make sure you have edited the cron_interval in default.rb (Step 3 above). If the cron_interval=nil files are not indexed.
I set up Sphinx without using chef recipes. It worked fine at first but then stopped working. If you do not use chef recipes to set up Sphinx, Sphinx configuration is lost whenever your instance is restarted.
I can't connect to the Sphinx server / Sphinx server not found. Make sure that you have added the deploy hooks and that the sphinx.yml file is present (Step 4 above).

If you have feedback or questions about this page, add a comment below. If you need help, submit a ticket with Engine Yard Support.

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