Open Search Environments: The Free Alternative to Commercial Search Services

Adrian O'Riordan


Open search systems present a free and less restricted alternative to commercial search services. This paper explores the space of open search technology looking in particular at the issue of interoperability. A description of current protocols and formats for engineering open search applications is presented. The suitability of these technologies and issues around their adoption and operation are discussed. This open search approach is especially proving a fitting choice in applications involving the harvesting of resources and information integration. Principal among the technological solutions are OpenSearch and SRU. OpenSearch and SRU implement a federated model to enable existing and new search engines and search clients communicate. Applications and instances where Opensearch and SRU can be combined are presented. Other relevant technologies such as OpenURL, Apache Solr, and OAI-PMH are also discussed. The deployment of these freely licensed open standards in digital library applications is now a genuine alternative to commercial or proprietary systems.

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