In 2009, our Google Search Appliance practice was a practice of one – me. By the end of the year, Shruti Sundaresh had joined me as a co-developer on our first large project. Her programming skills and experience with web content management systems and data migrations were invaluable. Shruti has recently started to transform our GSA practice by incorporating data analytics and visualization techniques into our projects, allowing our clients to get the best results possible from their search applications.
How long have you been working with the Google Search Appliance? Do you remember your first project? What was it?
Since late 2009. My first project was with a life sciences company in the Bay Area where we did XSLT development and indexed secure content.
I remember struggling with Forms Authentication then. I recently used it for another project and felt pretty nostalgic when I saw that nothing about it has changed 🙂 I also once managed to accidentally delete our XSLT work for the day. On the bright side, the client was very happy with the search solution – the HR department was using search during on-boarding to help new hires find the right information.
Good UX Means Good Business
In a world where technology is rapidly advancing and user expectations are rising, it’s no longer enough to have an average user experience; to delight your users and surpass your competition you must strive for the exceptional.
Can you tell us about your current project? What kind of application are you building and what technologies are involved?
I am working with a global shipping company implementing an analytics driven approach to improve search relevancy. We are building a layer between the GSA and the content sources that will enhance the content & remove noise. The usage data is coming from Omniture and we are building a Java application to act as the proxy where the content refinement will happen.
I am also working on a project for a consulting company where search is being used more for exploration than for finding specific documents. Our team is building connectors, OneBox modules and a complex user interface using the Twigkit search UI framework.
What skills or experience, other than the GSA, have you found useful when implementing Enterprise Search projects?
I’m noticing a trend where companies that would traditionally treat IT project such as Enterprise Search like cost centers are now focusing a great deal on user experience (UX). For those of us involved with the GSA, this means less focus on out-of-the-box XSLT and more on web development and robust frameworks. My last UI was a J2EE web application using backbone.js. It could be useful to gain some web development skills using a js framework like Angular or Ember or Backbone.
Beyond that, I think the ability to write clean, distilled code is always a plus. And the Socratic method of asking the ‘why’ questions to arrive at answers is a good rule of thumb to follow.