144: Search in Drupal 8 - Thomas Seidl & Nick Veenhof

Thomas Seidl and Nick Veenhof took a few minutes out of the Drupal 8 Search API code sprint at the Drupal DevDays in Szeged, Hungary to talk with me about the state-of-play and what's coming in terms of search in Drupal: one flexible, pluggable solution for search functionality with the whole community behind it.

"What are you most excited about in Drupal 8?" ... "Search!"

Thomas Seidl: "I am very excited about the new Search API module in Drupal 8 [obviously!]. We've had a lot of improvements planned, bug fixes, new flexibility and possibilities. For example, we'll probably make indexes have multiple item types, so you can easily make a whole site search, which was very hard to do previously. There are a lot of great improvements that will come with the Search API in Drupal 8. One other great new improvement is that while there are two Solr modules in Drupal 7, there's now a huge, combined effort in Drupal 8 which will benefit everyone," ... and only one solution: instead of Search API and a standalone Apache Solr solution, Drupal 8 will have the Search API with pluggable backends: Apache Solr and others.

Nick Veenhof: "In Drupal 5 and 6, there was the Apache Solr module, which was a direct integration from Drupal to Solr. In Drupal 7, there was this new module called Search API, which was an intermediary, [so Drupal could plug in and use different search backends]. The two modules were offering very similar experiences, but with a very different technical point of view."

"A year or more ago, Thomas and I sat together to combine the configuration files for Solr. From there we started to grow into a direction where we saw we were doing a lot of really similar things and that it would be nice for Drupal 8 if we combined forces. There was a blog post written about the reasons and what we were trying to do and this week we're actually doing it!"

That blog post is still an interesting read, both for its historical perspectives and the shape of the plans that are now coming to fruition. Battleplan for Search & Solr in Drupal 8 also gets off to a great start. The first lines are: "tl;dr Contrib Search maintainers are committed to make Drupal 8 kick ass with Search API."

Presenter Dossier: Nick Veenhof

  • Job: Lead Search Engineer, Acquia
  • Drupal.org profile: Nick_vh
  • Website: www.nickveenhof.be
  • Twitter: @nick_vh
  • 1st Drupal memory: Assessing (and rejecting) Drupal for a university assignment. "We had to make a community site, and tell our teachers if Drupal was worth it and our answer was no. Then I started looking for a job after I finished my bachelor's degree and the only cool technology that was out there that offered me free travel was a Drupal company. The first week of my job, I ended up here in Szeged," at DrupalCon in 2008, "and I had a blast."
  • 1st version of Drupal: 4.7

Presenter Dossier: Thomas Seidl

  • Job: Freelance developer, specializing in search
  • Drupal.org profile: drunken monkey
  • Website: Search gun-for-hire over at drunkenmonkey.at
  • Help Thomas's work on the Drupal Search API: Learn how you can contribute code, documentation, or funds at drunkenmonkey.at/contribute
  • Twitter: ThomasMSeidl
  • 1st Drupal memory: Getting roped into Drupal contribution through the combination of a university assignment and some fellow students who are part of the the (now legendary) Drupal Austria crew: fago, klausi, and mh86.
  • 1st version of Drupal: 6

"Talk about being an open source software developer"

Thomas Seidl: "It's interesting because you can take other people's examples and learn a lot from them. You have all these clever people working on their own stuff, which might be similar to yours. It's also great to think that when you work on something, there are tens of thousands of people who might use it, and you're really helping a lot of people. Even if you're doing paid work and publishing your results, this bit of paid work will potentially help lots of other people. If you spark other developers' interest, they may create something new."

Nick Veenhof: "What I like about it is that it comes with attribution. Things you do are out there, with your name on them. When other people contribute, their name will be added there. It's also a kind of curriculum [aka résumé] for you to move on to other companies. The stuff you do at one company doesn't stay at that company. When you move on, you keep that." There's a public record of what you've done along the way during your career. "If I didn't have that, every time, I would need to prove what I was doing, what I was able to do, but now I can show the [Drupal.org] profile."

Interview video!