Better Search (Again!)

Posted on March 24, 2017 by

A while ago we moved from using our default database search functionality to using a dedicated search server for ingredient searches. It's much faster, consistent between autocomplete and actual search results, matches partial searches, more powerful with filtering, and just more robust.

However, our initial implementation fell short in a couple areas, which we've worked to improve. You can read all about it below!

Stemming

First, it didn't stem words. Meaning that if an ingredient was stored as "raspberries" and you searched "raspberry", you wouldn't get that "raspberries" ingredient in your result. So we're now using a stemming library to make sure the root word is used for the search rather than the specific version of the word (plural, past tense, etc.).

This gives more reliable search results and includes better options that otherwise might have been missed if using the exact search term and ingredient name.

Fuzziness and Typos

The other thing that we now account for is typos and small differences in words. Now, if you mistype something (or even if you don't), it'll compare the search term to similar results (within reason) to see if maybe you meant something else. For example, "rasberry" will still match "raspberry".

For the most part this isn't an issue. But sometimes you'll be stumped why nothing shows up for a certain search and you were just off by a letter or two. Now that shouldn't be an issue. It's not magic, but it hopefully fixes little mistakes for you, which is kind of what you come to expect with searching on the internet these days!

Final Thoughts

We were a bit hesitant with switching to the new search method a year ago, and it left a few things to be desired initially. But now we're very happy with the results and how powerful and fast it is, and it should make our nutrition facts generator even better.

Have your own experience or comments on the search results? Let us know in the comments below, chat, or email us.


About Lev Berlin

Lev Berlin ReciPal SlantShack Author Bio

Lev Berlin is the founder & CEO of ReciPal. Having previously been a founder of SlantShack Jerky, he needed nutrition labels and simple tools to start and run the business. He's read the FDA food labeling code countless times in the process of creating ReciPal and helping small food businesses with their labels. He's reviewed and created thousands of food labels, and been a mentor and guest speaker at food incubators, food business courses, and regulatory conferences, like Brooklyn Foodworks and ICE.

After graduating from Princeton with an engineering degree, Lev was a management consultant, then founder or early employee at half a dozen startups. He loves nothing more than helping other small businesses get off the ground and achieve their goals.


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