Introduction to Whoosh

About Whoosh

Whoosh was created by Matt Chaput. It started as a quick and dirty search server for the online documentation of the Houdini 3D animation software package. Side Effects Software generously allowed Matt to open source the code in case it might be useful to anyone else who needs a very flexible or pure-Python search engine (or both!).

  • Whoosh is fast, but uses only pure Python, so it will run anywhere Python runs, without requiring a compiler.
  • By default, Whoosh uses the Okapi BM25F ranking function, but like most things the ranking function can be easily customized.
  • Whoosh creates fairly small indexes compared to many other search libraries.
  • All indexed text in Whoosh must be unicode.
  • Whoosh lets you store arbitrary Python objects with indexed documents.

What is Whoosh?

Whoosh is a fast, pure Python search engine library.

The primary design impetus of Whoosh is that it is pure Python. You should be able to use Whoosh anywhere you can use Python, no compiler or Java required.

Like one of its ancestors, Lucene, Whoosh is not really a search engine, it’s a programmer library for creating a search engine [1].

Practically no important behavior of Whoosh is hard-coded. Indexing of text, the level of information stored for each term in each field, parsing of search queries, the types of queries allowed, scoring algorithms, etc. are all customizable, replaceable, and extensible.

[1]It would of course be possible to build a turnkey search engine on top of Whoosh, like Nutch and Solr use Lucene.

What can Whoosh do for you?

Whoosh lets you index free-form or structured text and then quickly find matching documents based on simple or complex search criteria.

Getting help with Whoosh

You can view outstanding issues on the Whoosh Bitbucket page and get help on the Whoosh mailing list.