What do people want to search for?

We can think of a large number of different things that people might want to find from our catalogue. For instance, they may want to find objects that were created in Nantes, or after 1812, or by Hurd-Brown Ltd. They may want to find everything made of brass, or not containing wood, or more than a metre in length. They may care only about objects in the National Railway Museum, or in their Railway Heraldry collection, or everything not in the Railway Heraldry collection. And of course they may want to look up objects that have certain words or phrases in the title or description - “free text search”, one of the most common uses of search today.

In order to support all of this we’ll need to use many of the features of Xapian, but to get started we’ll just look at one: free text search of the title and description.

In later sections of this guide we’ll use the same data and build on the system we create here.