Fine-Tuning the Spirent Knowledge Base Search Engine

Spirent Knowledge BaseEmbrace the Ugly! A.K.A.
Learning to Like the KB

It comes as no surprise to anyone using the Spirent Knowledge Base (KB) that it isn’t the prettiest site to look at. There, I said it. But despite its less than photogenic looks, there’s real power behind it, and real content there that can drastically improve your experience with Spirent equipment, and ultimately your work results.

First of all, the search engine for the KB is actually quite powerful, and entailed over six person-months’ worth of expert tuning to optimize search quality and results. Much of this was through efforts to carefully “Spirent-ize” the Knowledge Base. The end result is the Spirent KB knows Spirent best, allowing it to more effectively match on relevant Spirent content than any other general search engine can possibly do. Yes, better than even Google or Bing search engines. This is not to say those search engines don’t have a place, but if you’re seeking content to help with using Spirent products and solutions, you’ll almost always have more success on the Spirent KB.

How do we do this? We have the advantage of being able to customize how the KB works with Spirent specific searches, and have defined into the KB words and phrases relevant to Spirent. An example is the way we help improve searches for one of our major products, Spirent TestCenter. The problem with this product name is that it is very often misspelled. Many times, the word “Spirent” is left out. Other times, it is abbreviated to “stc” or even “tc”. I’ve seen it spelled using a British English variant “TestCentre”. Probably one of the most common misspellings is putting a space between “test” and “center”. The great thing is that all these different spellings are defined in the KB (for “Spirent TestCenter” there are 15 variations defined in the search dictionary) so it understands them to all mean the same thing, “Spirent TestCenter”.

Knowledge Base Search

This helps both in the authoring of content, where misspellings during authoring are still searchable and understood by the KB. It also helps during searching, allowing misspelled searches to still match to the entire set of content. This capability in the Spirent KB dramatically improves its hit rate when compared with the simple keyword match used by lower-end search engines (which, by the way, was the CSC search model before we implemented the new Knowledge Base).

Finally, in case you’re wondering, we will continue putting in incremental steps to improve the KB’s visual appeal, but that usually comes secondary to the quality of the functions and content. More to come soon! In the meantime, I welcome your reactions and comments below.


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