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Islandora uses Solr and the Solr module in combination with GSearch to provide search functions to users on your site. This chapter assumes either:

a) You are using the Virtual Machine Image, or are exploring Islandora via Sandbox (where Solr is already installed and configured)

b) Solr and Gsearch are installed (following the instructions in Chapter 8 - Installing Solr and GSearch), and you have installed and activated the Solr module. The xslt and solrschema.xml documents that come packaged with GSearch should be used in configuration. These files are designed to work with our solution packs. Guidance for creating customizations to Solr are provided in the Customizing GSearch and Solr section.

What is Solr? And, why should I use it?

Solr makes it easy to create advanced search features in Islandora, like faceting (arranging search results in columns with numerical counts of key terms). The following comes from the Solr guide; a link to the guide is provided in the Selected Reading section of this guide:

Solr builds on another open source search technology---Lucene, a Java library that provides indexing and search technology, as well as spellchecking, hit highlighting and advanced analysis/tokenization capabilities. Both Solr and Lucene are managed by the Apache Software Foundation (www.apache.org).

The Lucene search library currently ranks among the top 15 open source projects and is one of the top 5 Apache projects, with installations at over 4,000 companies. Lucene/Solr downloads have grown nearly 10x over the past three years, with a current run-rate of over 6,000 downloads a day.

Islandora uses Solr to make objects in your Islandora installation discoverable. The Solr search module uses an XSLT in Gsearch to index the FOXML documents in your repository, and allows you to configure search fields for searching and faceting. Whenever you add a new object in Fedora, the Solr module updates your index, and makes those results available to your users.

Solr “Out of the Box”

The Solr module comes with support for DC and MODS searching and faceting to support our solution packs. When Solr is installed, six additional blocks appear under Structure>Blocks:


Islandora simple search - provides a simple full-text search of all items in the repository. A term will appear, no matter where it appears in the metadata. 

Islandora advanced search - provides a configurable search for users, where specific metadata fields can be searched and combined with boolean operators.

Islandora query - when a user is viewing a set of search results by facet, this block will show the current filters being applied in the search.

Islandora facets - this block will show users the facets they can use to explore search results.

Islandora displays - displays current search query

Islandora sort -  displays sorting options for search results.

By placing these blocks in regions of your site and configuring the Solr module under Islandora>Solr client, you can facilitate both full-text searching and faceted searching of items ingested using Solution Packs. The basic configuration of Solr can be modified to change the weight of search fields, and extend the out-of-the-box functionality. Information for doing this is provided in Chapter 7 - Customizing Islandora.

Configuring Solr out-of-the Box

In order for Solr to work for your collections, you will have to activate the blocks that you want, and configure them to display your desired results. The following instructions will show you how to configure Solr to work with solution packs. Additional information about installing Solr and how Islandora uses Solr is provided in Chapter 9 - Installing Solr and GSearch. Additional information about customizing Islandora’s Solr Search Module is provided in Chapter 7 - Customizing Islandora.

1. Navigate to the Configuration Panel

Start by going to the ‘Islandora’ page in the admin panel and click on the ‘Solr Client’ link.

2. Verify the Solr URL and Request Handler

The Solr URL should be ip.address.of.site:port/solr. So, for example, if you’re using the Islandora Virtual Machine Image, your Solr URL should be 192.168.56.195:8080/solr, or if using a local installation it should be localhost:8080/solr. If the URL is correct you will see a green check mark.

Make sure the request handler is set to ‘standard’. You can customize the request handler by editing solrconfig.xml to make other request handlers available. This assumes that you are using the default request handler, which will support all the metadata in our solution packs.

3. Set the Default and Secondary Display Profiles

You can modify the way results are displayed by configuring the default display profile. You can choose from List (default), Bookmark, Grid, and Table. Switching back and forth between different display profiles is simple, so feel free to experiment and see which profile best suits your site.

Secondary display profiles provide optional secondary outputs for search results. Out-of-the-box, support for CSV output is provided. Selecting this option will place a CSV button next to your search results.

4. Choose Search Terms in Advanced Search Block

Here you can choose the search terms that will appear in the drop-down menus on the advanced search block. Terms must be entered by their field names (in most cases this will be Dublin Core), though you can optionally specify a more human-readable label with the configure option.To determine the appropriate syntax for your search terms, simply edit the metadata on any object in your repository (for instructions, see How to Edit an Object’s Metadata in Chapter 3 - Getting Started with Islandora). Each field label will display the proper syntax for adding it to your Solr search configuration. A full list of the terms made available by the schema provided in the module package is provided in APPENDIX D - SOLR SCHEMA (SEARCH) Term Reference. Note that you will want to use fields that have been indexed as “text” here.


You also have the option of setting permissions on a per-field basis, allowing only certain subsets of users access to search across different facets. These permissions, and the human-readable label for each Solr field, can be configured by clicking configure to open a new options window:

Solr field permissions are dependent on a role having Drupal permissions to search the Solr index. Roles without this permissions may appear in this list, but they will not be selectable.

5. Choose Facet Fields

Solr uses faceting to filter search results. Here, you can choose which fields you wish to allow faceting on. The format is the same as the search terms described above. You can also use this screen to configure:

  1. Minimum Limit - The minimum number of search results returned for a particular facet before that facet will be displayed. For instance, if the limit was set to '3' and a search for "fish" returned only two results for 'Bass', 'Bass' would not be included as a facet.
  2. Soft Limit - The number of facets to show when a search is first returned. This setting will return the most populous facets first, and include a button to expose more available facets.
  3. Maximum Limit - Similar to a Soft Limit, but without the option to expand to show more terms beyond the limit set here.

Note that you will want to use terms here that have been indexed as “strings” (see Appendix).

6. Choose Sort Fields

Using the same field formatting as Advanced Search and Faceting fields, you can select fields to make available to the user to sort their search results in the Sort block.

The field for a relevance based sort is "score"

7. Set Query Defaults

This section of the configuration panel provides advanced Solr query customization options:

  • Limit results to specific namespaces- restrict your search results to a particular namespace. This is useful if there are multiple sites using the same repository and you want to block search results from the other sites. Remember that the namespace is the first half of the PID – everything before the colon.
  • Solr Default Query - This option allows you to specify a default query used to browse results when no explicit query has been entered. For example, if a user runs a search and then deletes their search term from the breadcrumbs, this default query will be applied in its place.
  • Solr Base Filter - You can use this option as a blanket way to filter all Solr search queries. For example, you can apply date-based or collection-based restrictions. For more information on Solr, see the Solr Reference Guide.

You have successfully configured your Solr client.

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3 Comments

  1. The top of the document says:

    The xslt and solrschema.xml documents that come packaged with the module should be used in configuration.

    Does that refer to the XSLT and SOLR schema.xml that comes with GSearch following the instructions provided in GSearch?  Or should there be a set of XSLT files and a schema.xml that is packaged with the islandora_solr_search module?

    Can that paragraph be modified to make this clear?

  2. Referring to the ones that come with GSearch. I've edited the paragraph accordingly. Thanks for pointing this out, it wasn't terribly clear.

  3. One thing that I am a little confused about: when I start typing a field name, I am expecting the autocomplete to pick up and display options. But they are always empty. Should it be returning back results or is this a signal that I need to check my solr / gsearch config?