A Coming-of-Age Story of a Developer’s First Time with SOLR – Part 1: Life Before SOLR

The Olden Days, Sitecore 6x and the Dreaded Sitecore Search

Before Sitecore 7/8 and the great feature explosion (Experience Editor, DMS, EXM, DEF, etc.), Sitecore Search scared me, it was my Kryptonite. Any attempts to learn it always seemed to end with frustration and my anxiety smashing through the roof. In my weakened state, all chances of learning were now gone until I eventually recovered from my Kryptonite exposure.

All the blogs during the pre-Sitecore 7 days, from what I can recall, seemed to all be clones of posts written by Alex Shyba. As great as Alex’s posts were, they always seemed to leave out an important piece I needed. That missing piece could have potentially cleared up all my confusion and it may have been enough to push me over the hurdles that prevented me from implementing a properly coded, working Sitecore Search. Of course, the cloned posts always covered the same concepts and always left out that important piece to the puzzle 😤😖.

Regrettably, I placed Search at the bottom of the list of things I needed to learn and placed my focus elsewhere.

Time passed, Sitecore 7 Arrived and Opportunities Disappeared

A year or two passed, Sitecore 7 was released and Sitecore Search changed for the better. Unfortunately, quality posts were still hard to find and that slowed my independent learning. During the reign of version 7 and prior to Sitecore 8, The opportunities to implement search were nowhere to be found. Every project I was assigned to, the clients asked me to implement Google Search instead of Sitecore Search… (un)lucky me.

Sitecore 8 Finally Arrives and It is Amazing

Sitecore 8 finally arrived late 2014 and it introduced a lot of awesome features and improved many more. Additionally, from what I can tell, 2014 was also the year the Sitecore community grew exponentially. Blogs became plentiful, full of quality information and thankfully originality was now common and clones were heading towards extinction.

After a few torturous months of not being able to develop using the version 8, the opportunity finally arrived in the Summer of 2015. I was assigned to take over as the lead developer on a site. I became responsible for the development of a lot of the more complex features, one of which was Sitecore Search.

With the influx of information, I quickly grasped the concepts that eluded me in prior years and I was finally successful implementing Sitecore Search, albeit with rather basic functionality for this site. It didn’t matter though; I was thrilled to have succeeded.

My luck continued with the next two projects I was assigned to. With each project, the complexity of the search’s requirements grew as did my knowledge. I finally understood basic concepts as well as some of the more advanced concepts ranging from configuration, computed fields, predicates, boosting, and so on.

Sitecore Search (w/Lucene) ceased being my Kryptonite. It’s unfortunate that it took approximately 9 years to get to this point. Although I still have areas I would like to improve, it’s all ok. The days of frustration and anxiety overload are all the past.

Finally, an Opportunity to that Requires SOLR

I started developing with Sitecore in 2006 and it has taken over 10 years to get the opportunity to work with SOLR. In all this time, I never took the time to research it so my SOLR experience is almost nil and I am thrilled to finally change that.

This blog series will be cover my journey learning SOLR, covering everything from the initial setup to every meaningful step throughout the project’s development. I will be honest with my experiences and hope can be both entertaining and informative.

Coming July 17th: Part 2: Installation Fun with SOLR

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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I can also be found hanging out on the Sitecore channels on Slack, I like it, although it occasionally triggers AOL chat room flashbacks from the olden days.

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