Nextcloud 11 Introduces Full Text Search

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Nextcloud 11 introduces the optional Nextant app which enables users to search instantly through the full contents of their documents and images for words or phrases. Nextant integrates Apache Solr based indexing of the contents of a Nextcloud server. System administrators have the flexibility of using a integrated or separate Solr indexing service depending on their needs.

Advanced search capabilities

Nextant integrates search seamlessly in Nextcloud through the existing search bar in the Files app. Searches can be executed “double quotes” for specific phrases and +/- indicators to force inclusion or exclusion of keywords in the search.

For example, one can:
+"search this complete sentence" +"and this one" -"but not this one"

Results are sorted by how often words appear in the documents found, while files found by file name or path get a higher position in the list.

Background indexing

Nextant was designed to integrate seamlessly in Nextcloud, delivering a smooth user experience. By kicking off an index run in the background upon file creation, modification or removal, the user interface remains responsive and the system is not heavily taxed indexing data.

Administrators have the ability to modify the default indexing interval in 15 minute increments. It is possible to opt to conserve resources by only indexing files which have not been modified for two hours or to index all files changed since the previous check. Nextant also provides the option to run an instant-index from the command line.

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Scaling with your needs

Nextant scales from small and medium installations to large server farms. On more limited systems, Nextant can run on the same server Nextcloud is running on while for larger numbers of users a dedicated server can be set up for the indexing and search querying. The ability for Solr to be clustered guarantees availability at really large scale.

Configuration

The configuration interface gives the administrator the choice of the source and the file types to be indexed. Nextant indexes most of the files recognized by Solr: text, Microsoft Office & LibreOffice, pdf, image and audio files. Couple with the excellent Tesseract OCR, Nextant should also be able to index pdfs files without a text layer.

Nextant fully supports the extensive external storage capabilities of Nextcloud, enabling indexing of files on NFS, Object Storage or Dropbox. It also supports indexing federated cloud shares from compatible cloud servers and data on encrypted storage.

For users of the bookmarks app, Nextant can also retrieve the list of your users’ bookmarks and index the content of the webpages for inclusion in searches.

Security and privacy considerations

Nextant leaves the user the possibility of not indexing the contents of a directory (recursively) by the creation of a .noindex file. Of course, while Nextant makes it possible to include files shared by other users in the results of a search, it is not possible to access via Nextant the contents of a file of another user that is not shared with the author of the request.

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