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Last week Pete Gregory (@pgregorynz) and I were discussing different implementations of Examine. Particularly when you need to use Examine events to collate information from different nodes to put into the index for the page being rendered. An example of this is an FAQ engine where you might have an Umbraco content structure such as:
  • Site Container
    • Public
      • FAQs
        • FAQ Item 1
        • FAQ Item 2
        • FAQ Item 3

In this example, the page that is rendered to the end user is FAQs but the data from all 4 nodes (FAQs, FAQ Item 1 –> 4) needs to be added to the index for the FAQs page. To do this you can use Examine events, either using the GatheringNodeData of the BaseIndexProvider, or by using the DocumentWriting event of the UmbracoContentIndexer (I’ll write another post covering the difference between these two events and why they both exist). Though writing Examine event handlers to put the data from FAQ Item 1 –> 4 into the FAQs index isn’t very difficult, it would still be really cool if all of this could be done automatically.

Pete mentioned it would be cool if we could just index the output html of a page (sort of like Google) and suddenly the ideas started to flow. This concept is actually quite easy to do so within the next month or so we’ll probably release a beta of Examine Output Indexing. Here’s the way it’ll all get put together:

  • An HttpModule will be created to do 2 things:
    • Check if the current request is an Umbraco page request
      • If it is, we can easily get the current node being rendered since it’s already been added to the HttpContext items by Umbraco
      • Use the standard Examine handlers to enter the node’s data into the indexes based on the configuration you’ve specified in your Examine configuration files
    • Get the HTML output of the page before it is rendered to the end user, parse the html to get the relevant data and put it into the index for the current Umbraco page
  • We figured that it would also be cool to have an Examine node property that developers could defined called something like: examineNoIndex which we could check for when we determine that it’s an Umbraco page and if this property is set to true, we’ll not index this page.
    • This could give developers more control over what specific pages shouldn’t be indexed based directly from the CMS properties instead of writing custom events

With the above, a developer will simply need to put the HttpModule in their web.config, define an Examine index based on a new provider we create and that’s it. There will be no need to manually collate node data such as the above FAQ example. However, please note that this will work for straight forward searching so if you have complex searching & indexing requirements, I would still recommend using events since you have far more control over what information is indexed.

Any feedback is much appreciated since we haven’t started developing this quite yet.