One thing I’ve been harping on since I’ve started using WordPress is that, the search function of the WordPress Plugin repository does a terrible job of finding plugins. Matt Mullenweg has been fully aware of the problem considering many people have been complaining about it for quite some time. Thankfully, the issue now appears to be solved. Over on the WordPress development blog, mdawaffe lets us know that they have replaced the plugin repository search with a new system called Sphinx. Sphinx is an open-source SQL full-text search engine. It’s currently being used for the plugin directory and has been applied to the plugin’s title, description, installation, FAQ, etc. In the near future, the search will also include things such as authors and tags. Also worthy of note is that the enhancements to the search engine can also be tapped into from the plugin repository that is accessed from the back end of WordPress 2.7 and above.
Giving the new search engine a try, I typed in the exact name of a few plugins I have in use on my own blog. For example, WP Ajax Edit Comments. This plugin used to show up on the fourth or fifth page of results even though I did a search for the exact name of the plugin. Now, it shows up as the first result which is refreshing to say the least.
No plans have been made public yet on whether the new search functionality will make its way over to the theme repository or WordPress itself although there has been a good discussion on the WP Hackers Mailing list about adding something like Sphinx to the core. So far, the majority of those who participate on the list are in favor of the idea. Only time will tell though if an improved search engine will find its way into WordPress. I certainly wouldn’t mind. How about you? What do you think of the built in search functionality in WordPress?