Using FDSE to search a database or database-driven content
From time to time, people inquire about using FDSE as the primary search engine for a database or for database-driven content.
FDSE is not the right tool for this job.
First, FDSE cannot interact with databases directly. It is only designed to search documents in HTML format.
Second, FDSE does a poor job of searching highly structured database-driven content. Examples of highly structured content would be a personals match-making site, a classified ads site, or a storefront site.
There are several reasons for this. FDSE only searches raw text for keywords. It cannot search within numeric ranges (i.e., "find a car less than $10,000") or data types (i.e., "return Women seeking men"). Also, FDSE only sorts by keyword relevance. It cannot sort results by product type or by price. Also, FDSE cannot include thumbnails in the search results, and the crawler cannot differentiate between multiple listings or records on a single HTML page.
Various customers have tried to use FDSE for searching structured content. It can be made to work, but often the end users are left wishing they had a search engine that was more integrated with the content being searched.
Note that FDSE can search unstructured database-driven content just fine, such as a web site of news articles which are fed from a database. FDSE does fine here because all of the fields (title, author, text) are normal text fields.
For managing databases or database-driven content, it is best to create a custom, integrated web application that supports data entry, data display, searching and browsing. Such a custom application will cost a little more up front, but it is worth it.
Because each database is different, there are rarely pre-built applications that you can use. However, there is always a chance that someone has created a special-case product and mass-marketed it. You could check www.cgi-resources.com for such a product. It is less expensive and faster to buy a pre-built application, and they usually run better too.
Another way to keep costs down and to quickly get your hands on proven code is to talk to websites that already have something similar. You could ask to license their code, or ask for a referral to their developer.
Note that I am not available for any custom coding projects. This help file exists only to warn users away from using FDSE to search highly structured database-driven content.
"Using FDSE to search a database or database-driven content" http://www.xav.com/scripts/search/help/1171.html