XML indexing engine now comes off the shelf

Web surfers can conduct detailed searches and find information with pinpoint accuracy – at least that’s the promise of Xdex, an indexing engine for Web information written in XML.

Officials at Sequoia Software, a Columbia, Md.-based XML software provider, claim its product is the first off-the-shelf indexing engine for XML. Priced at US$1,995, Xdex runs on Windows NT servers and plugs directly into the Microsoft Management Console for administration.

“Xdex is the first in a series of tools that we will be introducing that allow developers to take advantage of XML in the e-commerce space,” said Clay Richardson, Xdex product marketing manager. “Xdex allows for the intelligent indexing and searching of XML documents.”

Xdex takes advantage of XML’s tagging system to deliver high-performance, context-sensitive searches. It uses smart spiders to search for information under different XML tags, and it automatically indexes that content. Administrators can schedule the spiders to scan file systems, Web sites and databases to look for XML data.

The goal of Xdex is to provide Web site developers with the ability to offer highly-targeted search results. For example, if a Web surfer searched for information about the city of Columbia, Md., he wouldn’t receive information about the Columbia River or Columbia University if he were using a portal that employed XML tagging and indexing

“Anyone who is creating XML documents or receiving them from trading partners is a target for Xdex,” Xdex product manager Tracy Ryan said.

One company that is employing Xdex is OpenMLS, a Tahoe City, Calif., provider of Web-based multiple listing service software for the real estate industry. OpenMLS will use Xdex as the indexing and search engine for its PureXML product, which is a management system for XML-based listings.

OpenMLS president Doug Greenwood said he is interested in Xdex because it is the only search engine product he could find that is targeted at XML documents. With XML homebuyers will be able to conduct complex on-line searches such as looking for a house in a particular price range with a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms, he said.

“What Xdex provides with its XQL Server back end is the query language that allows you to perform searches on XML documents in a richer manner,” Greenwood said. “That is something that is extremely desirable for consumer searches of residential homes.”

Other features of Xdex that Greenwood likes are its spider capability and the automatic indexing of XML documents. In contrast, Microsoft’s Index Services, which comes bundled with Windows 2000, isn’t specifically written for XML and doesn’t support spiders. “It is extremely important in our business model to have a Web-based spidering tool,” Greenwood added.