Case Study: Sphinx-based Search

September 19, 2011

GravatarMichael Snoyman

Case Study: Sphinx-based Search

Sphinx is a search server, and powers the search feature on many sites, including Yesod's own site. While the actual code necessary to integrate Yesod with Sphinx is relatively short, it touches on a number of complicated topics, and is therefore a great case study in how to play with some of the under-the-surface details of Yesod.

There are essentially three different pieces at play here:

  • Storing the content we wish to search. This is fairly straight-forward Persistent code, and we won't dwell on it much in this chapter.
  • Accessing Sphinx search results from inside Yesod. Thanks to the sphinx package, this is actually very easy.
  • Providing the document content to Sphinx. This is where the interesting stuff happens, and will show how to deal with streaming content from a database directly to XML, which gets sent directly over the wire to the client.

Sphinx Setup

Unlike many of our other examples, to start with here we'll need to actually configure and run our external Sphinx server. I'm not going to go into all the details of Sphinx, partly because it's not relevant to our point here, and mostly because I'm not an expert on Sphinx.

Sphinx provides three main command line utilities: searchd is the actual search daemon that receives requests from the client (in this case, our web app) and returns the search results. indexer parses the set of documents and creates the search index. search is a debugging utility that will run simple queries against Sphinx.

There are two important settings: the source and the index. The source tells Sphinx where to read document information from. It has direct support for MySQL and PostgreSQL, as well as a more general XML format known as xmlpipe2. We're going to use the last one. This not only will give us more flexibility with choosing Persistent backends, but will also demonstrate some more powerful Yesod concepts.

The second setting is the index. Sphinx can handle multiple indices simultaneously, which allows it to provide search for multiple services at once. Each index will have a source it pulls from.

In our case, we're going to provide a URL from our application (/search/xmlpipe) that provides the XML file required by Sphinx, and then pipe that through to the indexer. So we'll add the following to our Sphinx config file:

source searcher_src
{
	type = xmlpipe2
	xmlpipe_command = curl http://localhost:3000/search/xmlpipe
}

index searcher
{
	source = searcher_src
	path = /var/data/searcher
	docinfo = extern
	charset_type = utf-8
}

In order to build your search index, you would run indexer searcher. Obviously this won't work until you have your web app running. For a production site, it would make sense to run this command via a crontab script so the index is regularly updated.

Basic Yesod Setup

Let's get our basic Yesod setup going. We're going to have a single table in the database for holding documents, which consist of a title and content. We'll store this in a SQLite database, and provide routes for searching, adding documents, viewing documents and providing the xmlpipe file to Sphinx.

share [mkPersist sqlSettings, mkMigrate "migrateAll"] [persist|
Doc
    title Text
    content Textarea
|]

data Searcher = Searcher ConnectionPool

mkYesod "Searcher" [parseRoutes|
/ RootR GET
/doc/#DocId DocR GET
/add-doc AddDocR POST
/search SearchR GET
/search/xmlpipe XmlpipeR GET
|]

instance Yesod Searcher

instance YesodPersist Searcher where
    type YesodPersistBackend Searcher = SqlPersist

    runDB action = do
        Searcher pool <- getYesod
        runSqlPool action pool

instance RenderMessage Searcher FormMessage where
    renderMessage _ _ = defaultFormMessage

Hopefully all of this looks pretty familiar by now. Next we'll define some forms: one for creating documents, and one for searching:

addDocForm :: Html -> MForm Searcher Searcher (FormResult Doc, Widget)
addDocForm = renderTable $ Doc
    <$> areq textField "Title" Nothing
    <*> areq textareaField "Contents" Nothing

searchForm :: Html -> MForm Searcher Searcher (FormResult Text, Widget)
searchForm = renderDivs $ areq (searchField True) "Query" Nothing

The True parameter to searchField makes the field auto-focus on page load. Finally, we have some standard handlers for the homepage (shows the add document form and the search form), the document display, and adding a document.

getRootR :: Handler RepHtml
getRootR = do
    docCount <- runDB $ count ([] :: [Filter Doc])
    ((_, docWidget), _) <- runFormPost addDocForm
    ((_, searchWidget), _) <- runFormGet searchForm
    let docs = if docCount == 1
                then "There is currently 1 document."
                else "There are currently " ++ show docCount ++ " documents."
    defaultLayout [whamlet|
<p>Welcome to the search application. #{docs}
<form method=post action=@{AddDocR}>
    <table>
        ^{docWidget}
        <tr>
            <td colspan=3>
                <input type=submit value="Add document">
<form method=get action=@{SearchR}>
    ^{searchWidget}
    <input type=submit value=Search>
|]

postAddDocR :: Handler RepHtml
postAddDocR = do
    ((res, docWidget), _) <- runFormPost addDocForm
    case res of
        FormSuccess doc -> do
            docid <- runDB $ insert doc
            setMessage "Document added"
            redirect $ DocR docid
        _ -> defaultLayout [whamlet|
<form method=post action=@{AddDocR}>
    <table>
        ^{docWidget}
        <tr>
            <td colspan=3>
                <input type=submit value="Add document">
|]

getDocR :: DocId -> Handler RepHtml
getDocR docid = do
    doc <- runDB $ get404 docid
    defaultLayout $
        [whamlet|
<h1>#{docTitle doc}
<div .content>#{docContent doc}
|]

Searching

Now that we've got the boring stuff out of the way, let's jump into the actual searching. We're going to need three pieces of information for displaying a result: the document ID it comes from, the title of that document, and the excerpts. Excerpts are the highlighted portions of the document which contain the search term.

Search Result

So let's start off by defining a Result datatype:

data Result = Result
    { resultId :: DocId
    , resultTitle :: Text
    , resultExcerpt :: Html
    }

Next we'll look at the search handler:

getSearchR :: Handler RepHtml
getSearchR = do
    ((formRes, searchWidget), _) <- runFormGet searchForm
    searchResults <-
        case formRes of
            FormSuccess qstring -> getResults qstring
            _ -> return []
    defaultLayout $ do
        addLucius [lucius|
.excerpt {
    color: green; font-style: italic
}
.match {
    background-color: yellow;
}
|]
        [whamlet|
<form method=get action=@{SearchR}>
    ^{searchWidget}
    <input type=submit value=Search>
$if not $ null searchResults
    <h1>Results
    $forall result <- searchResults
        <div .result>
            <a href=@{DocR $ resultId result}>#{resultTitle result}
            <div .excerpt>#{resultExcerpt result}
|]

Nothing magical here, we're just relying on the searchForm defined above, and the getResults function which hasn't been defined yet. This function just takes a search string, and returns a list of results. This is where we first interact with the Sphinx API. We'll be using two functions: query will return a list of matches, and buildExcerpts will return the highlighted excerpts. Let's first look at query:

getResults :: Text -> Handler [Result]
getResults qstring = do
    sphinxRes' <- liftIO $ S.query config "searcher" (unpack qstring)
    case sphinxRes' of
        ST.Ok sphinxRes -> do
            let docids = map (Key . PersistInt64 . ST.documentId) $ ST.matches sphinxRes
            fmap catMaybes $ runDB $ forM docids $ \docid -> do
                mdoc <- get docid
                case mdoc of
                    Nothing -> return Nothing
                    Just doc -> liftIO $ Just <$> getResult docid doc qstring
        _ -> error $ show sphinxRes'
  where
    config = S.defaultConfig
        { S.port = 9312
        , S.mode = ST.Any
        }

query takes three parameters: the configuration options, the index to search against (searcher in this case) and the search string. It returns a list of document IDs that contain the search string. The tricky bit here is that those documents are returned as Int64 values, whereas we need DocIds. We're taking advantage of the fact that the SQL Persistent backends use a PersistInt64 constructor for their IDs, and simply wrap up the values appropriately.

We then loop over the resulting IDs to get a [Maybe Result] value, and use catMaybes to turn it into a [Result]. In the where clause, we define our local settings, which override the default port and set up the search to work when any term matches the document.

Let's finally look at the getResult function:

getResult :: DocId -> Doc -> Text -> IO Result
getResult docid doc qstring = do
    excerpt' <- S.buildExcerpts
        excerptConfig
        [T.unpack $ escape $ docContent doc]
        "searcher"
        (unpack qstring)
    let excerpt =
            case excerpt' of
                ST.Ok bss -> preEscapedLazyText $ decodeUtf8With ignore $ L.concat bss
                _ -> return ()
    return Result
        { resultId = docid
        , resultTitle = docTitle doc
        , resultExcerpt = excerpt
        }
  where
    excerptConfig = E.altConfig { E.port = 9312 }

escape :: Textarea -> Text
escape =
    T.concatMap escapeChar . unTextarea
  where
    escapeChar '<' = "&lt;"
    escapeChar '>' = "&gt;"
    escapeChar '&' = "&amp;"
    escapeChar c   = T.singleton c

buildExcerpts takes four parameters: the configuration options, the textual contents of the document, the search index and the search term. The interesting bit is that we entity escape the text content. Sphinx won't automatically escape these for us, so we must do it explicitly.

Similarly, the result from Sphinx is a list of lazy ByteStrings. But of course, we'd rather have Html. So we concat that list into a single lazy ByteString, decode it to a lazy text (ignoring invalid UTF-8 character sequences), and use preEscapedLazyText to make sure that the tags inserted for matches are not escaped. A sample of this HTML is:

&#8230; Departments.  The President shall have <span class='match'>Power</span> to fill up all Vacancies
&#8230;  people. Amendment 11 The Judicial <span class='match'>power</span> of the United States shall
&#8230; jurisdiction. 2. Congress shall have <span class='match'>power</span> to enforce this article by
&#8230; 5. The Congress shall have <span class='match'>power</span> to enforce, by appropriate legislation
&#8230;

Streaming xmlpipe output

We've saved the best for last. For the majority of Yesod handlers, the recommended approach is to load up the database results into memory and then produce the output document based on that. It's simpler to work with, but more importantly it's more resilient to exceptions. If there's a problem loading the data from the database, the user will get a proper 500 response code.

However, generating the xmlpipe output is a perfect example of the alternative. There are potentially a huge number of documents (the yesodweb.com code handles tens of thousands of these), and documents could easily be several hundred kilobytes. If we take a non-streaming approach, this can lead to huge memory usage and slow response times.

So how exactly do we create a streaming response? As we cover in the WAI chapter, we have a ResponseSource constructor that uses a stream of blaze-builder Builders. From the Yesod side, we can avoid the normal Yesod response procedure and send a WAI response directly using the sendWaiResponse function. So there are at least two of the pieces of this puzzle.

Now we know we want to create a stream of Builders from some XML content. Fortunately, the xml-conduit package provides this interface directly. xml-conduit provides some high-level interfaces for dealing with documents as a whole, but in our case, we're going to need to use the low-level Event interface to ensure minimal memory impact. So the function we're interested in is:

renderBuilder :: Resource m => RenderSettings -> Conduit Event m Builder b

In plain English, that means renderBytes takes some settings (we'll just use the defaults), and will then convert a stream of Events to a stream of Builders. This is looking pretty good, all we need now is a stream of Events.

Speaking of which, what should our XML document actually look like? It's pretty simple, we have a sphinx:docset root element, a sphinx:schema element containing a single sphinx:field (which defines the content field), and then a sphinx:document for each document in our database. That last element will have an id attribute and a child content element.

Sample xmlpipe document
<sphinx:docset xmlns:sphinx="http://sphinxsearch.com/">
    <sphinx:schema>
        <sphinx:field name="content"/>
    </sphinx:schema>
    <sphinx:document id="1">
        <content>bar</content>
    </sphinx:document>
    <sphinx:document id="2">
        <content>foo bar baz</content>
    </sphinx:document>
</sphinx:docset>

Every document is going to start off with the same events (start the docset, start the schema, etc) and end with the same event (end the docset). We'll start off by defining those:

toName :: Text -> X.Name
toName x = X.Name x (Just "http://sphinxsearch.com/") (Just "sphinx")

docset, schema, field, document, content :: X.Name
docset = toName "docset"
schema = toName "schema"
field = toName "field"
document = toName "document"
content = "content" -- no prefix

startEvents, endEvents :: [X.Event]
startEvents =
    [ X.EventBeginDocument
    , X.EventBeginElement docset []
    , X.EventBeginElement schema []
    , X.EventBeginElement field [("name", [X.ContentText "content"])]
    , X.EventEndElement field
    , X.EventEndElement schema
    ]

endEvents =
    [ X.EventEndElement docset
    ]

Now that we have the shell of our document, we need to get the Events for each individual document. This is actually a fairly simple function:

entityToEvents :: (Entity Doc) -> [X.Event]
entityToEvents (Entity docid doc) =
    [ X.EventBeginElement document [("id", [X.ContentText $ toPathPiece docid])]
    , X.EventBeginElement content []
    , X.EventContent $ X.ContentText $ unTextarea $ docContent doc
    , X.EventEndElement content
    , X.EventEndElement document
    ]

We start the document element with an id attribute, start the content, insert the content, and then close both elements. We use toPathPiece to convert a DocId into a Text value. Next, we need to be able to convert a stream of these entities into a stream of events. For this, we can use the built-in concatMap function from Data.Conduit.List: CL.concatMap entityToEvents.

But what we really want is to stream those events directly from the database. For most of this book, we've used the selectList function, but Persistent also provides the (more powerful) selectSourceConn function. So we end up with the function:

docSource :: Connection -> C.Source IO X.Event
docSource conn = selectSourceConn conn [] [] C.$= CL.concatMap entityToEvents

The $= operator joins together a source and a conduit into a new source. Now that we have our Event source, all we need to do is surround it with the document start and end events. With Source's Monoid instance, this is a piece of cake:

fullDocSource :: Connection -> C.Source IO X.Event
fullDocSource conn = mconcat
    [ CL.sourceList startEvents
    , docSource conn
    , CL.sourceList endEvents
    ]

We're almost there, now we just need to tie it together in getXmlpipeR. We need to get a database connection to be used. Normally, database connections are taken and returned automatically via the runDB function. In our case, we want to check out a connection and keep it available until the response body is completely sent. To do this, we use the takeResource function, which registers a cleanup action with the ResourceT monad.

By default, a resource will not be returned to the pool. This has to do with proper exception handling, but is not relevant for our use case. Therefore, we need to force the connection to be returned to the pool.

getXmlpipeR :: Handler RepXml
getXmlpipeR = do
    Searcher pool <- getYesod
    let headers = [("Content-Type", "text/xml")]
    managedConn <- lift $ takeResource pool
    let conn = mrValue managedConn
    lift $ mrReuse managedConn True let source = fullDocSource conn C.$= renderBuilder def
    sendWaiResponse $ ResponseSource status200 headers source

We get our connection pool from the foundation variable, then send a WAI response. We use the ResponseSource constructor, and provide it the status code, response headers, and body.

Full code

{-# LANGUAGE OverloadedStrings, TypeFamilies, TemplateHaskell,
QuasiQuotes, MultiParamTypeClasses, GADTs, FlexibleContexts
#-}
import Yesod
import Data.Text (Text, unpack)
import Control.Applicative ((<$>), (<*>))
import Database.Persist.Sqlite
import Database.Persist.Query.GenericSql (selectSourceConn)
import Database.Persist.Store (PersistValue (PersistInt64))
import qualified Text.Search.Sphinx as S
import qualified Text.Search.Sphinx.Types as ST
import qualified Text.Search.Sphinx.ExcerptConfiguration as E
import qualified Data.ByteString.Lazy as L
import Data.Text.Lazy.Encoding (decodeUtf8With)
import Data.Text.Encoding.Error (ignore)
import Data.Maybe (catMaybes)
import Control.Monad (forM)
import qualified Data.Text as T
import Text.Blaze (preEscapedLazyText)
import qualified Data.Conduit as C
import qualified Data.Conduit.List as CL
import qualified Data.XML.Types as X
import Network.Wai (Response (ResponseSource))
import Network.HTTP.Types (status200)
import Text.XML.Stream.Render (renderBuilder, def)
import Data.Monoid (mconcat)
import Data.Conduit.Pool (takeResource, mrValue, mrReuse)

share [mkPersist sqlSettings, mkMigrate "migrateAll"] [persist|
Doc
    title Text
    content Textarea
|]

data Searcher = Searcher ConnectionPool

mkYesod "Searcher" [parseRoutes|
/ RootR GET
/doc/#DocId DocR GET
/add-doc AddDocR POST
/search SearchR GET
/search/xmlpipe XmlpipeR GET
|]

instance Yesod Searcher

instance YesodPersist Searcher where
    type YesodPersistBackend Searcher = SqlPersist

    runDB action = do
        Searcher pool <- getYesod
        runSqlPool action pool

instance RenderMessage Searcher FormMessage where
    renderMessage _ _ = defaultFormMessage

addDocForm :: Html -> MForm Searcher Searcher (FormResult Doc, Widget)
addDocForm = renderTable $ Doc
    <$> areq textField "Title" Nothing
    <*> areq textareaField "Contents" Nothing

searchForm :: Html -> MForm Searcher Searcher (FormResult Text, Widget)
searchForm = renderDivs $ areq (searchField True) "Query" Nothing

getRootR :: Handler RepHtml
getRootR = do
    docCount <- runDB $ count ([] :: [Filter Doc])
    ((_, docWidget), _) <- runFormPost addDocForm
    ((_, searchWidget), _) <- runFormGet searchForm
    let docs = if docCount == 1
                then "There is currently 1 document."
                else "There are currently " ++ show docCount ++ " documents."
    defaultLayout [whamlet|
<p>Welcome to the search application. #{docs}
<form method=post action=@{AddDocR}>
    <table>
        ^{docWidget}
        <tr>
            <td colspan=3>
                <input type=submit value="Add document">
<form method=get action=@{SearchR}>
    ^{searchWidget}
    <input type=submit value=Search>
|]

postAddDocR :: Handler RepHtml
postAddDocR = do
    ((res, docWidget), _) <- runFormPost addDocForm
    case res of
        FormSuccess doc -> do
            docid <- runDB $ insert doc
            setMessage "Document added"
            redirect $ DocR docid
        _ -> defaultLayout [whamlet|
<form method=post action=@{AddDocR}>
    <table>
        ^{docWidget}
        <tr>
            <td colspan=3>
                <input type=submit value="Add document">
|]

getDocR :: DocId -> Handler RepHtml
getDocR docid = do
    doc <- runDB $ get404 docid
    defaultLayout $
        [whamlet|
<h1>#{docTitle doc}
<div .content>#{docContent doc}
|]

data Result = Result
    { resultId :: DocId
    , resultTitle :: Text
    , resultExcerpt :: Html
    }

getResult :: DocId -> Doc -> Text -> IO Result
getResult docid doc qstring = do
    excerpt' <- S.buildExcerpts
        excerptConfig
        [T.unpack $ escape $ docContent doc]
        "searcher"
        (unpack qstring)
    let excerpt =
            case excerpt' of
                ST.Ok bss -> preEscapedLazyText $ decodeUtf8With ignore $ L.concat bss
                _ -> return ()
    return Result
        { resultId = docid
        , resultTitle = docTitle doc
        , resultExcerpt = excerpt
        }
  where
    excerptConfig = E.altConfig { E.port = 9312 }

escape :: Textarea -> Text
escape =
    T.concatMap escapeChar . unTextarea
  where
    escapeChar '<' = "&lt;"
    escapeChar '>' = "&gt;"
    escapeChar '&' = "&amp;"
    escapeChar c   = T.singleton c

getResults :: Text -> Handler [Result]
getResults qstring = do
    sphinxRes' <- liftIO $ S.query config "searcher" (unpack qstring)
    case sphinxRes' of
        ST.Ok sphinxRes -> do
            let docids = map (Key . PersistInt64 . ST.documentId) $ ST.matches sphinxRes
            fmap catMaybes $ runDB $ forM docids $ \docid -> do
                mdoc <- get docid
                case mdoc of
                    Nothing -> return Nothing
                    Just doc -> liftIO $ Just <$> getResult docid doc qstring
        _ -> error $ show sphinxRes'
  where
    config = S.defaultConfig
        { S.port = 9312
        , S.mode = ST.Any
        }

getSearchR :: Handler RepHtml
getSearchR = do
    ((formRes, searchWidget), _) <- runFormGet searchForm
    searchResults <-
        case formRes of
            FormSuccess qstring -> getResults qstring
            _ -> return []
    defaultLayout $ do
        addLucius [lucius|
.excerpt {
    color: green; font-style: italic
}
.match {
    background-color: yellow;
}
|]
        [whamlet|
<form method=get action=@{SearchR}>
    ^{searchWidget}
    <input type=submit value=Search>
$if not $ null searchResults
    <h1>Results
    $forall result <- searchResults
        <div .result>
            <a href=@{DocR $ resultId result}>#{resultTitle result}
            <div .excerpt>#{resultExcerpt result}
|]

getXmlpipeR :: Handler RepXml
getXmlpipeR = do
    Searcher pool <- getYesod
    let headers = [("Content-Type", "text/xml")]
    managedConn <- lift $ takeResource pool
    let conn = mrValue managedConn
    lift $ mrReuse managedConn True
    let source = fullDocSource conn C.$= renderBuilder def
        flushSource = fmap C.Chunk source
    sendWaiResponse $ ResponseSource status200 headers flushSource

entityToEvents :: (Entity Doc) -> [X.Event]
entityToEvents (Entity docid doc) =
    [ X.EventBeginElement document [("id", [X.ContentText $ toPathPiece docid])]
    , X.EventBeginElement content []
    , X.EventContent $ X.ContentText $ unTextarea $ docContent doc
    , X.EventEndElement content
    , X.EventEndElement document
    ]

fullDocSource :: Connection -> C.Source IO X.Event
fullDocSource conn = mconcat
    [ CL.sourceList startEvents
    , docSource conn
    , CL.sourceList endEvents
    ]

docSource :: Connection -> C.Source IO X.Event
docSource conn = selectSourceConn conn [] [] C.$= CL.concatMap entityToEvents

toName :: Text -> X.Name
toName x = X.Name x (Just "http://sphinxsearch.com/") (Just "sphinx")

docset, schema, field, document, content :: X.Name
docset = toName "docset"
schema = toName "schema"
field = toName "field"
document = toName "document"
content = "content" -- no prefix

startEvents, endEvents :: [X.Event]
startEvents =
    [ X.EventBeginDocument
    , X.EventBeginElement docset []
    , X.EventBeginElement schema []
    , X.EventBeginElement field [("name", [X.ContentText "content"])]
    , X.EventEndElement field
    , X.EventEndElement schema
    ]

endEvents =
    [ X.EventEndElement docset
    ]

main :: IO ()
main = withSqlitePool "searcher.db3" 10 $ \pool -> do
    runSqlPool (runMigration migrateAll) pool
    warpDebug 3000 $ Searcher pool

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