elasticutils status -- May 18th, 2012

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A few months ago, I "took over" maintenance of elasticutils. We use it in SUMO as the API for building search queries with elasticsearch.

One of the first things I did was spend some time figuring out whether we should keep working on elasticutils at all. django-haystack also provides a django-ish API for working with elasticsearch. Why have two libraries that at a high level do the same thing?

The thing is that they're not exactly the same. django-haystack is really great and supports a variety of backends for search, elasticsearch being one of them. Right now, it only has support for elasticsearch in 2.0 which is in either an alpha or beta state now (their web-site could use some updates). However, because it supports a bunch of backends, it only supports functionality that works across all of them.

elasticutils, on the other hand, is elasticsearch-specific. As elasticsearch adds functionality, we can, too. That's the compelling reason to keep working on this library. However, django-haystack has some awesome ideas that we'd like to implement in elasticutils, too. This will fix some sharp edges in elasticutils, but also make it much easier for projects to switch from one to the other.

Currently, elasticutils only handles the query side of things. django-haystack handles that, but also has an API for defining mappings, indexing, and all the other things you need with a search system.

Thus, Rob Hudson and I are going to embrace and extend elasticutils to:

  1. fix the current situation where it seems every elasticutils user is actually using their own branch with additional functionality in it (ew!)
  2. implement the rest of the things you need with a search system
  3. document the things we've learned while working with elasticutils because at a minimum, it seems most of the Mozilla projects that use elasticutils bumped into, spent time on, and solved the same problems---that's a huge waste of time and a failure on my part

One of the things users of a library need is for the library to be a mature project with releases, tagged version, documentation, tests, stability, reliability, reproduceability, communication, community and all that. Thus, I'm also going to spend some time to turn this into a real project. Towards that end, I created #elasticutils on irc.mozilla.org where we'll talk dirty elasticutils stuff. If we end up with more people pitching in, we'll create a mailing list. But for now, IRC will do.

My next step is to spend a little time cleaning up what's in the master branch, then tag and release a baseline version.

After that, I'm going to spend time identifying, thinking about and merging in the divergent functionality in the various branches while Rob works on continuing his imperative mapping work.

I think in a couple of months, we'll be in a better place and that'll make it easier for Mozilla projects and anyone else who wants to use elasticutils to use and contribute to it.

If you're a user of elasticutils, please come hang out with us! Let us know how we can better help you.

Want to comment? Send an email to willkg at bluesock dot org. Include the url for the blog entry in your comment so I have some context as to what you're talking about.