Delta index updates

There’s a frequent situation when the total dataset is too big to be reindexed from scratch often, but the amount of new records is rather small. Example: a forum with a 1,000,000 archived posts, but only 1,000 new posts per day.

In this case, “live” (almost real time) index updates could be implemented using so called “main+delta” scheme.

The idea is to set up two sources and two indexes, with one “main” index for the data which only changes rarely (if ever), and one “delta” for the new documents. In the example above, 1,000,000 archived posts would go to the main index, and newly inserted 1,000 posts/day would go to the delta index. Delta index could then be reindexed very frequently, and the documents can be made available to search in a matter of minutes.

Specifying which documents should go to what index and reindexing main index could also be made fully automatic. One option would be to make a counter table which would track the ID which would split the documents, and update it whenever the main index is reindexed.

Example 3.3. Fully automated live updates

# in MySQL
CREATE TABLE sph_counter
(
    counter_id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY NOT NULL,
    max_doc_id INTEGER NOT NULL
);

# in sphinx.conf
source main
{
    # ...
    sql_query_pre = SET NAMES utf8
    sql_query_pre = REPLACE INTO sph_counter SELECT 1, MAX(id) FROM documents
    sql_query = SELECT id, title, body FROM documents \
        WHERE id<=( SELECT max_doc_id FROM sph_counter WHERE counter_id=1 )
}

source delta : main
{
    sql_query_pre = SET NAMES utf8
    sql_query = SELECT id, title, body FROM documents \
        WHERE id>( SELECT max_doc_id FROM sph_counter WHERE counter_id=1 )
}

index main
{
    source = main
    path = /path/to/main
    # ... all the other settings
}

# note how all other settings are copied from main,
# but source and path are overridden (they MUST be)
index delta : main
{
    source = delta
    path = /path/to/delta
}

Note how we’re overriding sql_query_pre in the delta source. We need to explicitly have that override. Otherwise REPLACE query would be run when indexing delta source too, effectively nullifying it. However, when we issue the directive in the inherited source for the first time, it removes all inherited values, so the encoding setup is also lost. So sql_query_pre in the delta can not just be empty; and we need to issue the encoding setup query explicitly once again.