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Search

Overview

The Catalog Search is a primary tool for customer interaction — and customers expect high-level relevance, suggestions, multiple languages, faceting, and near-instantaneous responses.

Although, the master data is stored in transaction storage (MS SQL), Virto Commerce uses Full-text search engines as a primary source for the search.

Virto Commerce Search architecture is focused to isolate the search engine from documents and provide abilities to add new types of documents. An index is a persistent store of documents and other constructs used for filtered and full-text search on a Virto Commerce Search service. Conceptually, a document is a single unit of searchable data in your index.

The Catalog Search has been built above Virto Commerce Search - generic full-text search.

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Key Features

  1. Document-based full-text search and text analysis for Products and Categories.
  2. Search by keyword, filters, aggregations and geo-search.
  3. Supports multiple search engines: Elasticsearch / Elastic Cloud, Azure Search and Lucence - for local development only.
  4. Functionality, which implements the inherent complexity of information retrieval is exposed through REST API or .NET SDK.
  5. The search logic is extendable and customizable by third-party modules.

Analysis

Analysis is the process of converting text, like the body of any email, into tokens or terms which are added to the inverted index for searching. Analysis is performed by an analyzer.

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Index Time Analysis

If the field is searchable, this means the value will undergo analysis during indexing.

Virto Commerce Elasticsearch and Azure Search providers support Edge NGram (default) or NGram analyzer. Both providers use Standart Tokenizer and LowerCase filter.

For instance, at index time the built-in custom_edge_ngram analyzer (min:3,max:5) will first convert the sentence:

"QUICK fox"

In the end, the following terms will be added to the index:

[ qui, quic, quick, fox]

Search Time Analysis

This same analysis process is applied to the query (Keyword) string at search time to convert the text in the query string into terms of the same form as those that are stored in the inverted index.

Then search engine matches the terms from the document with terms from the query string to search the documents.

Standard Tokenizer

The standard tokenizer provides grammar based tokenization (based on the Unicode Text Segmentation algorithm, as specified in Unicode Standard Annex and works well for most languages.

Input

"The 2 QUICK Brown-Foxes jumped over the lazy dog's bone."

Output

[ The, 2, QUICK, Brown, Foxes, jumped, over, the, lazy, dog's, bone ]

NGram Tokenizer

The ngram tokenizer treats the initial text as a single token and produces N-grams with minimum length 1 and maximum length 2 :

"QUICK fox"

In the end, the following terms will be added to the index:

[ q, qu, u, ui, i, ic, c, ck, k, f, fo, o, ox, x]

Edge NGram Tokenizer (default)

The edge_ngram tokenizer first breaks the text down into words whenever it encounters one of a list of specified characters, then it emits NGrams of each word where the start of the N-gram is anchored to the beginning of the word.

The edge_ngram tokenizer treats the initial text as a single token and produces N-grams with minimum length 1 and maximum length 2 :

"QUICK fox"

In the end, the following terms will be added to the index:

[ q, qu, f, fo]

Edge N-Grams are useful for search-as-you-type queries.

When you need search-as-you-type for text which has a widely known order, such as movie or song titles, the completion suggester is a much more efficient choice than edge N-grams. Edge N-grams have the advantage when trying to autocomplete words that can appear in any order.

Document Types

Catalog Search defines a schema for two documents: 1. Product 1. Category

Scenarios

To have full integration, Catalog Search implements all search scenarios: 1. Indexation 1. Change Tracking 1. Search

For example, the implementation of catalog search can be used as the knowledge base on how to extend your custom module with the full-text search.

Product Document Schema

When you build index first time, Virto Commerce Search creates structures based on the schema you provide in a document. For example, if a field in your index is marked as searchable, it creates for that field. Later, when you submit search queries to Virto Commerce Search, you are sending requests to a specific index in your search service.

If you add a new property, Virto Commerce Search will extend the schema.

If you change a property type, complete Delete + Build can be required.

Field Types

  • IsSearchable - a value indicating whether the field is full-text searchable. This means it will undergo analysis during indexing. If you set a searchable field to value like "sunny day", internally it will be split into the list of tokens ["sunny", "day", ...]. If you don't set a searchable field to value like "sunny day", internally it will be kept as "sunny day". (Note: Only __content property is searchable by default).
  • IsRetrievable - value indicating whether the field can be returned in a search result.
  • IsFilterable - value indicating whether to enable the field to be referenced in filter queries. filterable differs from searchable in how strings are handled.
  • IsCollection - value indicating that this property contains a collection of values.

Product Document Schema

Name IsSearchable IsRetrievable IsFilterable IsCollection Example Description
__content true true true true --- Collection of text data which used for full-text search. Mapped with Code, Name, Property Values
__type --- true true true --- Type of the product class. Mapped with product.GetType().Name
__object --- true --- --- --- Store serialized catalog objects in the index and return them in search results. If Store serialized catalog objects in the index settings is true (Default: false)
__sort --- true true --- --- product.Name
is --- true true true --- Collection of attributes: hidden,visible, product, variation, product.Code
status --- true true --- --- Enum: hidden or visible. Mapped with product.IsActive.
code --- true true true --- Mapped with product.Code
name --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.Name
startdate --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.StartDate
enddate --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.EndDate
createddate --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.CreatedDate
lastmodifieddate --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.ModifiedDate
modifieddate --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.ModifiedDate
priority --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.Priority
vendor --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.Vendor
productType --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.ProductType
mainProductId --- true true --- --- Mapped with product.MainProductId
$"priority_{link.CatalogId}_{link.CategoryId}" --- true true true --- Dynamic properties which mapped with collection of Id from product.Links
catalog --- true true true --- Mapped with collection of Id from product.Outlines
__outline --- true true true --- Mapped with collection of product.Outlines
{catalogPropertyName}[0..N] --- true true true * --- List of the properties based on collection of catalog.Properties. IsCollection is true for Dictionaries.
{categoryPropertyName}[0..N] --- true true true * --- List of the properties based on collection of category.Properties, category.Propertis, product.Properties and variation.Properties. IsCollection is true for Dictionaries.
{variationPropertyName}[0..N] --- true true true * --- List of the properties based on collection of variation.Properties. IsCollection is true for Dictionaries.
{productPropertyName}[0..N] --- true true true * --- Dynamic properties based on collection of catalog.Properties, category.Propertis, product.Properties and variation.Properties. IsCollection is true for Dictionaries.
$"priority_{link.CatalogId}_{link.CategoryId}" --- true true true --- Dynamic properties which mapped with collection of Id from product.Links
price --- true true true --- Price module extension. Collection of all product price
$"price_{pricelist.Currency} --- true true true --- Price module extension. Collection of all product price in specific currency.
$"pirce_{pricelist.Currency}_{pricelist.Currency} --- true true true --- Price module extension. Collection of all product price in specific currency and specific price list.

You can look on the latest mapping from CatalogProduct to IndexDocument here

Product Indexation Process

When you add or change a product, Virto Commerce Search creates structures based on the schema you provide. For example, if the field in your index is marked as searchable, an inverted index is created for that field. Later, when you submit search queries to Virto Commerce Search, you are sending requests to a specific index in your search service.

You can initiate the indexation process manually. 1. Go to Search Index 1. Select the required document type 1. Then click Build button to start the indexation process * Build - index for all data without recreating. * Delete + Build - Current search index will be deleted and built from scratch. 1. Control indexation process. It can take time. It depends on the count of the entities.

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Product ReIndexation Process

Each trigger type has a different interface and inputs that define the trigger's behavior. * By Event - When you change the product. * By Timer - The background job check and re-index modified objects every N-minutes (5 minutes by default). Disabled by default. * Manually - Can be triggered in Admin UI > Product > Search widget > Build Index button or Rest API.

You can change behaviour in settings (Settings > Catalog >Search ).

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View Index Document

You can preview Index Document 1. Open Product blade 1. Click Search Index widget image|240x271 1. See Index Document in Json format image|298x499

Aggregations and Filters

Virto Commerce Search supports aggregations and filters, which used to display filter panel with Brands, Colors, Size, etc. Aggregation also returns the count of the products.

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The properties which are available for aggregations are configured on Store level.

  1. Go to Stores
  2. Select Store
  3. Click Aggregation properties
  4. Pick Catalog properties eligible for filtering in this Store

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Here you can configure additional properties, like: * Aggregation type - Attribute or Rage. * Aggregation size - Maximum number of aggregation values in search results. 0 = unlimited. * Allowed values - Enter aggregation values allowed in search results. Leave empty to allow any value.

Search Process

In Catalog Search, search criteria is a full specification of a round-trip operation. Parameters on the request provide match criteria for finding documents in an index, which fields to include or exclude (Response Groups), execution instructions passed to the engine, and directives for shaping the response. searchPhrase=* query runs against all searchable fields as a full-text search operation.

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  1. The client calls Rest API call api/catalog/search/products endpoint.
  2. Api Controller calls IProductSearchService.SearchAsync. ProductSearchService is default implementation of IProductSearchService.
  3. ProductSearchService creates SearchRequest and populates Search Criterias, Filters and Aggregations.
    • Aggregations are loaded from Selected Store.
    • SearchFields is __content
    • Filters and other properties are loaded from ProductSearchCriteria
    • You can use RawQuery to send the direct query to the Search Provider.
  4. ProductSearchService calls ISearchProvider.SearchAsync method.
  5. ProductSearchService converts IndexDocument and Aggregations to CatalogProduct.
  6. If Store serialized catalog objects in the index is true, Products are loaded from the IndexDocument, __object property.
  7. If Store serialized catalog objects in the index is false (default), Products are loaded from IItemService.GetByIds.

        public virtual async Task<SearchRequest> BuildRequestAsync(SearchCriteriaBase criteria)
        {
            SearchRequest request = null;
    
            var productSearchCriteria = criteria as ProductIndexedSearchCriteria;
            if (productSearchCriteria != null)
            {
                // Getting filters modifies search phrase
                var allFilters = await GetAllFiltersAsync(productSearchCriteria);
    
                request = new SearchRequest
                {
                    SearchKeywords = productSearchCriteria.Keyword,
                    SearchFields = new[] { "__content" },
                    Filter = GetFilters(allFilters).And(),
                    Sorting = GetSorting(productSearchCriteria),
                    Skip = criteria.Skip,
                    Take = criteria.Take,
                    Aggregations = _aggregationConverter == null ? null : await _aggregationConverter.GetAggregationRequestsAsync(productSearchCriteria, allFilters),
                    IsFuzzySearch = productSearchCriteria.IsFuzzySearch,
                    //RawQuery = productSearchCriteria.RawQuery
                };
            }
    
            return request;
        }
    
    Go to source

Search Process by Storefront Kit

Virto Commerce Storefront Kit is one of the clients and CatalogSearchController::CategoryBrowsing can be a good example of using Search API.

The Storefront Kit uses several steps to initialize catalog search criteria before call Rest API:

  1. Current Language, Current Currency, Current Store Id, Current Store Catalog and Current Outline from the WorkContext. Go to Source.
  2. List of the properties from Query String. Go to Source.
  3. UserGroups from Contact.UserGroup to limit the visibility of the products by User Groups and support personalization.
  4. Pricelists from WorkContext.CurrentPricelists to support price personalization. Go to Source
Property Name Query String Key Description
PageNumber page Index of the page. From 1 to N. Default: 1
PageSize page_size or count Size of the page for pagination. Default: 20
IsFuzzySearch page Enable of using Fuzzy Search. Default: true
Keyword q Default: Empty
SortBy sort_by Order the result set of a query by the specified column. Example: title-ascending, price-descending, etc.
ResponseGroup resp_group Name of the response group to limit data in the result set. Default: ItemResponseGroup.ItemMedium | ItemResponseGroup.ItemWithPrices | ItemResponseGroup.ItemWithVendor | ItemResponseGroup.ItemAssociations
Terms terms List of the term to filter the result set. Example: Color:Black,Bronze or Brand:Asus;Color:Black,Bronze

Response Group​

The rendering of the search page might be loading too slowly because of all the bulky data that have. Only the required information in each particular situation should be loaded.

You can control this by ItemResponseGroup.

Enum Name Enum Value Description
ItemInfo 1 Only simple product information and properties without meta information
ItemAssets 2 With images and assets
ItemProperties 4 With properties meta information
ItemAssociations 8 With product associations
ItemEditorialReviews 16 With descriptions
Variations 32 With all product variations
Seo 64 With product SEO information
ItemSmall 83 ItemInfo | ItemAssets | ItemEditorialReviews | Seo
Links 128 With outgoing product links to virtual catalog or categories
Inventory 256 With product inventory information
Outlines 512 With category outlines
ReferencedAssociations 1024 With product referenced associations
ItemMedium 1119 ItemSmall | ItemAssociations | ReferencedAssociations | ItemProperties
ItemLarge 2047 ItemMedium | Variations | Links | Inventory | Outline

Return 10 products with Only simple product information:

Try API on Our Demo Site

Request:

{
"storeId": "Electronics",
"catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
"skip": 0,
"take": 10,
"responseGroup": "ItemSmall"
}

Search by Keyword

searchPhrase property provides the match criteria, usually text. For example: Search products by 'Home' keyword

The following example is a representative query constructed in the Storefront and [REST API] to search for products by 'Home' keyword.

"searchPhrase": "Home",

Storefront UI: https://demo3.virtocommerce.com/en-US/search?type=product&q=Home

image|645x499

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Request:

{
"searchPhrase": "Home",
"storeId": "Electronics",
"catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
"skip": 0,
"take": 10,
"responseGroup": "ItemInfo",
}

Response:

{
  "totalCount": 5,
  "items": [
    {
      "code": "ONHTS3700",
      "name": "Onkyo HT-S3700 5.1-Channel Network Home Theater System",
      "catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
      "categoryId": "b1c093973bb24179bf130886b0477a18",
      "outline": "b1c093973bb24179bf130886b0477a18",
      "path": "Home Theater",
      "isBuyable": true,
      "isActive": true,
      "trackInventory": true,
      "maxQuantity": 0,
      "minQuantity": 1,
      "productType": "Physical",
      "priority": 0,
      "startDate": "2015-08-14T09:52:31.953Z",
...

Filter by​ Terms

Terms property allows returning documents that contain an exact term in a provided field.

The following examples is a representative query constructed in the [REST API] to

search for products by Sony brand:

"terms": ["Brand:Sony"],

search for products by Sony OR Panasonic brands:

"terms": ["Brand:Sony,Panasonics"],

search for products by Sony brand AND Wi-Fi features:

"terms": ["Brand:Sony", "Features:Wi-Fi"],

Storefront UI: https://demo3.virtocommerce.com/search?terms=Brand%3aSony

image|690x425

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Request:

{
"terms": ["Brand:Sony"],
"storeId": "Electronics",
"catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
"skip": 0,
"take": 10,
"responseGroup": "ItemInfo"
}

Response:

{
  "totalCount": 5,
  "items": [
    {
      "code": "SOHDRPJ540B",
      "name": "Sony 32GB HDR-PJ540 Full HD Handycam Camcorder with Built-in Projector",
      "catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
      "categoryId": "53e239451c844442a3b2fe9aa82d95c8",
      "outline": "45d3fc9a913d4610a5c7d0470558c4b2/53e239451c844442a3b2fe9aa82d95c8",
      "path": "Camcorders/Consumer camcorders",
      "isBuyable": true,
      "isActive": true,
      "trackInventory": true,
      "maxQuantity": 0,
      "minQuantity": 1,
      "productType": "Physical",
...

Filter by​ Price

Virto Commerce Catalog supports several price filters: Pricelists, PriceRange and Currency.

  1. Pricelists collections allows returning documents that contain the price in exact pricelist. Storefront Kit uses it for price personalization, when available pricelists are evaluating for a customer.
  2. PriceRange structure allows returning documents that contain the price in specific range. Can be used as price filter. For example: Returns products with Price less than 25$.
  3. Currency property defines price currency for PriceRange filters

The following examples is a representative query constructed in the [REST API] to

search for products with price in ElectronicUSD pricelist with Id = 934da94516a74f9ab4ec001343ac928a:

"pricelists": ["934da94516a74f9ab4ec001343ac928a"],

search for products with price betweeb 100$ and 200$:

"currency": "USD",
"priceRange": {  
         "lower": 100,
         "upper": 200,
         "includeLower": false,
         "includeUpper": true
},

Storefront UI: https://demo3.virtocommerce.com/search?terms=price%3a100-200

image|690x456

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Request:

{
"currency": "USD",
"priceRange": {  
         "lower": 100,
         "upper": 200,
         "includeLower": false,
         "includeUpper": true
},
"pricelists": ["934da94516a74f9ab4ec001343ac928a"],
"storeId": "Electronics",
"catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
"skip": 0,
"take": 10,
"responseGroup": "ItemInfo"
}

Response:

{
  "totalCount": 3,
  "items": [
    {
      "code": "BLX150QWHT",
      "name": "BLU Win HD LTE X150Q 8GB",
      "catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
      "categoryId": "0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea",
      "outline": "0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea",
      "path": "Cell phones",
      "isBuyable": true,
      "isActive": true,
      "trackInventory": true,
      "maxQuantity": 0,
      "minQuantity": 1,
...

Filter by Category

Outline and Outlines properties allow returning documents that relaited one or multiple categories in provided fields.

The following examples is a representative query constructed in the [REST API] to

search for products by cell-phones category (Category Id: '0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea'):

"outline": "0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea",

search for products in Cell Phones and Televisions categories (Category Id: '0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea', 'c76774f9047d4f18a916b38681c50557'):

"outlines": ["0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea","c76774f9047d4f18a916b38681c50557"],

Storefront UI: https://demo3.virtocommerce.com/en-US/cell-phones

image|690x481

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Request:

{
"outlines": ["0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea"],
"storeId": "Electronics",
"catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
"skip": 0,
"take": 10,
"responseGroup": "ItemInfo"
}

Response:

{
  "totalCount": 6,
  "items": [
    {
      "code": "ASZF216GBSL",
      "name": "ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE551ML 16GB Smartphone",
      "catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
      "categoryId": "0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea",
      "outline": "0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea",
      "path": "Cell phones",
      "isBuyable": true,
      "isActive": true,
      "trackInventory": true,
      "maxQuantity": 0,
      "minQuantity": 1,
      "productType": "Physical",
...

Geo-search​ - Sort by distance and Filter by radius.

Notes: 1. Only Elasticsearch and Azure Search support Geo-point data-type.' 2. Sort by distance and Filter by radius works with Geo-point properties, only.

GeoDistanceFilter property allows returning documents that include only hits that exists within a specific distance from a geo point.

The following examples is a representative query constructed in the [REST API] to

search for products which are located less than 10 km from (40, -70) :

"geoDistanceFilter":    {
   "fieldName": "GeoPosition"
   "location": {
      "latitude": 40,
      "longitude": -70
    },
"distance": 10
}

sort products based on distance from from (40, -70):

"sort": "GeoPosition(40,-70):asc"

Sorting & Paging​

When receiving results for a search query, you can request that Virto Commerce Catalog Search serves the results ordered by values in a specific field.

By default, Search orders the search results based on the rank of each document's search score. If you want to return your results ordered by a value other than the search score, you can use the sort search parameter.

Each expression can be followed by asc to indicate that results are requested in ascending order, and desc to indicate that results are requested in descending order. The default ranking ascending order.

sort by Priority field in ascending order

"sort": "Priority"

sort by Priority field in descending order

"sort": "Priority:desc"

sort products based on distance from from (40, -70):

"sort": "GeoPosition(40,-70):asc"

Virto Commerce Catalog Search takes it easy to implement paging of search results. By using the take and skip parameters, you can smoothly issue search requests that allow you to receive the total set of search results in manageable, ordered subsets that easily enable good search UI practices. When receiving these smaller subsets of results, you can also receive the count of documents in the total set of search results.

Request:

{
"skip": 150,
"take": 50
}

Response:

{
  "totalCount": 1200,
  "items": [
   ...

Aggregations​ - with a count of products for every value

By default, the response contains collections of aggregations which help to build filter panel.

List of the properties which are visible for aggregations is configured on Store level.

You can include or exclude aggregation fields manually by using includeAggregations or excludeAggregations properties. Both properties can contain collection of property names.

If includeAggregations is empty collection, the collection of aggregations in response will be empty.

https://github.com/VirtoCommerce/vc-platform-core/blob/master/Modules/vc-module-catalog/VirtoCommerce.CatalogModule.Data/Search/BrowseFilters/BrowseFilterService.cs#L45

Request:

{
"outlines": ["0d4ad9bab9184d69a6e586effdf9c2ea"],
"storeId": "Electronics",
"catalogId": "4974648a41df4e6ea67ef2ad76d7bbd4",
"skip": 0,
"take": 10,
"responseGroup": "ItemInfo"
}

Response:

...
  "aggregations": [
    {
      "aggregationType": "attr",
      "field": "Brand",
      "labels": [
        {
          "language": "de-DE",
          "label": "Marke"
        },
        {
          "language": "en-US",
          "label": "Brand"
        }
      ],
      "items": [
        {
          "value": "Asus",
          "count": 2,
          "isApplied": false,
          "labels": [
            {
              "language": "en-US",
              "label": "Asus"
            }
          ]
        },
        {
          "value": "BLU",
          "count": 1,
          "isApplied": false,
          "labels": [
            {
              "language": "en-US",
              "label": "BLU"
            }
          ]
        },
        {
          "value": "Microsoft",
          "count": 1,
          "isApplied": false,
          "labels": [
            {
              "language": "en-US",
              "label": "Microsoft"
            }
          ]
        },
        {
          "value": "Samsung",
          "count": 2,
          "isApplied": false,
          "labels": [
            {
              "language": "en-US",
              "label": "Samsung"
            }
          ]
        }
      ]
    },
    {
      "aggregationType": "attr",
      "field": "Color",
      "labels": [
        {
          "language": "de-DE",
          "label": "Farber"
        },
        {
          "language": "en-US",
          "label": "Color"
        }
...

Samples

References


Last update: June 23, 2020