Of all the things to love about the release of the newest version of Movable Type, the built-in search engine rarely makes the list. Fortunately for the MT user, the popular and aptly named PHP plugin for Movable Type - Fast Search - has just been updated to support MT 4.
Fast Search, designed by Mark Carey, uses the dynamic PHP-based publishing system of Movable Type to display search results. Don't worry about the indexes and archives, as users can continue to use static publishing for those components.
One of the primary reasons why Fast Search is effective is the use of MySQL full text indexing. This functionality builds a search index for the entries in an MT database, making searches faster and more efficient. Fast Search also logs searches the Movable Type Activity log, much like the built-in search.
These capabilities add up to a more efficient and less CPU-intensive search process that will make you forget all about the sluggish, native Perl-CGI-based search engine of previous versions of Movable Type.
Fast Search also supports tag search, which displays a list of all entries with a specific tag. Tag searches have the same pagination features as regular searches, allowing a user to browse multiple pages of tag search results that are sorted with the most recent entries listed first. Tag searches can be run on single or across multiple blogs.
By tweaking the full-text queries, the relevancy ranking has been improved significantly. In order to experience this improvement firsthand, MT usrs are urged to test this feature out by conducting a few searches in full-text mode before upgrading to Fast Search 2.1.
For power bloggers who manage multiple blogs, a search across all blogs on your system previously required that you specify each blog separated by commas. Now an author simply needs to enter the special “all” keyword to conduct a search across all blogs.
Keep in mind that the above mentioned features are all included in Fast Search 2.0; the incentive to upgrade to Fast Search 2.1 is its ability to run with the current MT 4 offering. Also, don’t bother trying to run FS 2.1 on an older MT, or even a pre-launch version of v4.0 — it won’t work.
Are you interested in trying the lastest release of Fast Search? Let us know what you think of it.