Upgrading to Alfresco 5 – New Search Features and Solr 4

The latest release of Alfresco One introduced a range of enhancements to the search capabilities in Alfresco Share.  With these enhancements also came a significant upgrade to Alfresco’s back-end indexing and search engine, Solr.  This article will showcase some of the new search features that are available in Alfresco 5, as well as provide information for successfully upgrading from previous versions of Alfresco and Solr.

New Search Features in Alfresco 5

We find that a picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to describing new features.  Below are screenshots of some of the enhancements to the search functionality available in Alfresco 5.

  • Quick Search provides instant search results as you type:
    ScreenHunter_33 Feb. 10 14.11
  • Search suggestions as you type:
    ScreenHunter_34 Feb. 10 14.14
  • Search results filtering (faceting) based on metadata:
    ScreenHunter_35 Feb. 10 14.18
  • Filtering fields can be easily configured by a system admin:
    ScreenHunter_36 Feb. 10 14.20
  • Execute actions directly from search results:
    ScreenHunter_37 Feb. 10 14.22

Upgrading to Alfresco 5 with Solr 4

As with any Alfresco upgrade, it’s important to plan carefully and perform a test upgrade in advance in order to ensure the success of the upgrade and to minimize downtime.  See our previous post that includes tips for a successful Alfresco upgrade.

With the introduction of Solr 4 with Alfresco 5, additional considerations need to be made when planning for an upgrade because upgrading Solr requires that all content in the repository be reindexed.  Depending on the amount of content in the repository, the reindexing process could take a significant amount of time.

For large repositories where downtime must be kept at a minimum, Alfresco has provided an upgrade path that involves upgrading the repository and database and continuing to use the old version of Solr (Solr 1) while the new Solr 4 index is being built.  This allows users to continue to access the system (without any of the new search features described above) while the Solr 4 reindex takes place.  Once the reindex completes successfully, the search subsystem can be switched over to user Solr 4, and the old Solr 1 index can be decommissioned.

It’s important to keep system resources in mind if you choose to continue to use Solr 1 while performing the reindex with Solr 4.  Solr can have a high demand for CPU and RAM, so it’s critical to validate that enough resources are available to support both instances of Solr, especially if they are deployed on the same server, and even more so if they are deployed on the same server as the Alfresco repository.

More detail on the Solr upgrade process can be found in the Alfresco Upgrade Documentation.

In summary, some great new features are in store with Alfresco 5, especially those related to search.  With the migration to Solr 4, extra steps must be taken when planning for an upgrade.  Please add your comments and feedback below.