Most blog readers probably know that I host/run bikelist.org, phred.org, and many of the bicycle-related mailing lists associated with them such as Internet-BOB, Framebuilders, and Touring. Many years ago I wrote a crude system for searching the archives. It is based on Index Server and IIS and has many limitations such as not knowing what a message thread is, being difficult to backup, and frequently breaking. It was time to rewrite it.
About 3 years ago I started writing a new archival system based on SQL Server and their full text indexing system. I’d work on the new archives for one or two weeks worth of bus rides, then put the project away and ignore it for a year. Amazingly I did make actual progress working this way. For the past two weeks I’ve been putting the final touches on the system. You can see it live at http://search.bikelist.org/beta.
The goals of the new system are:
Having agood schema that can properly represent discussions instead of just single messages.A thread is all displayed as a single page to make it easier to get context.
Using an easier platform to innovate on. With the new system it won’t be hard to add features such as posting through the web interface (that isn’t there yet, but likely will be in the next year or so).
Having a much nicer interface.
Ultimately the goal is to have a clean, simple, fast system for finding all of the great content that has been posted to these lists in the last 5-15 years. I still have a small amount of work to do completely replacing the old system, but I wanted to setup a preview so that people could see how it looks and provide feedback. The internet-BOB and framebuilders lists are being loaded into the system today,so there is a lot of content to explore. Please leave comments here or send me email telling me what you think.
A fun side effect of rewriting the archives is that I often get side tracked by all of the interesting old messages out there.