Lucene in Action
Second edition of this title is available

Erik Hatcher and Otis Gospodnetić

2004 | 456 pages | B&W
ISBN: 1932394281

Out of Print $44.95 Softbound print + PDF eBook
$35.99 eBook edition (PDF only)


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Lucene is a gem in the open-source world--a highly scalable, fast search engine. It delivers performance and is disarmingly easy to use. Lucene in Action is the authoritative guide to Lucene. It describes how to index your data, including types you definitely need to know such as MS Word, PDF, HTML, and XML. It introduces you to searching, sorting, filtering, and highlighting search results.

Lucene powers search in surprising places--in discussion groups at Fortune 100 companies, in commercial issue trackers, in email search from Microsoft, in the Nutch web search engine (that scales to billions of pages). It is used by diverse companies including Akamai, Overture, Technorati, HotJobs, Epiphany, FedEx, Mayo Clinic, MIT, New Scientist Magazine, and many others.

Adding search to your application can be easy. With many reusable examples and good advice on best practices, Lucene in Action shows you how. And if you would like to search through Lucene in Action over the Web, you can do so using Lucene itself as the search engine--take a look at the authors' awesome Search Inside solution. Its results page resembles Google's and provides a novel yet familiar interface to the entire book and book blog.



"...packed with examples and advice on how to effectively use this incredibly powerful tool."
-- Brian Goetz, Principal Consultant, Quiotix Corporation

" unlocked for me the amazing power of Lucene."
-- Reece Wilton, Staff Engineer, Walt Disney Internet Group

"...the code examples are useful and reusable."
-- Scott Ganyo, Jakarta Lucene Committer

"...code samples as JUnit test cases are incredibly helpful."
-- Norman Richards, co-author XDoclet in Action


"My suggestion to you: pick up a copy of Lucene in Action. You'll get plenty of support on this mailing list, but you can educate yourself much more effectively with that book...It's the cheapest consulting ($40) you can get."
-- Participant on

"Our development team has been able to fully implement/integrate Lucene in our system in just a week. That's an absolute record, for us, for the adoption of any component and Lucene in Action has been invaluable in achieving it, as well as the easy, nice architecture of Lucene, of course, that is so well explained in the book."
-- Irakli N.

"I bought the Lucene in Action ebook, which is excellent and I can strongly recommend [it]. ...Thanks to the authors for Lucene in Action, it's given me the high level best practices I was needing."
-- Steve S.


A committer on the Ant, Lucene, and Tapestry open-source projects, Erik Hatcher is coauthor of Manning's award-winning Java Development with Ant. Otis Gospodnetic is a Lucene committer, a member of Apache Jakarta Project Management Committee, and maintainer of the jGuru's Lucene FAQ. Both authors have published numerous technical articles including several on Lucene.


Lucene started as a self-serving project. In late 1997, my job uncertain, I sought something of my own to market. Java was the hot new programming language, and I needed an excuse to learn it. I already knew how to write search software, and thought I might fill a niche by writing search software in Java. So I wrote Lucene.

A few years later, in 2000, I realized that I didn’t like to market stuff. I had no interest in negotiating licenses and contracts, and I didn’t want to hire people and build a company. I liked writing software, not selling it. So I tossed Lucene up on SourceForge, to see if open source might let me keep doing what I liked.

A few folks started using Lucene right away. Around a year later, in 2001, folks at Apache offered to adopt Lucene. The number of daily messages on the Lucene mailing lists grew steadily. Code contributions started to trickle in. Most were additions around the edges of Lucene: I was still the only active developer who fully grokked its core. Still, Lucene was on the road to becoming a real collaborative project.

Now, in 2004, Lucene has a pool of active developers with deep understandings of its core. I’m no longer involved in most day-to-day development; substantial additions and improvements are regularly made by this strong team.

Through the years, Lucene has been translated into several other programming languages, including C++, C#, Perl, and Python. In the original Java, and in these other incarnations, Lucene is used much more widely than I ever would have dreamed. It powers search in diverse applications like discussion groups at Fortune 100 companies, commercial bug trackers, email search supplied by Microsoft, and a web search engine that scales to billions of pages. When, at industry events, I am introduced to someone as the “Lucene guy,” more often than not folks tell me how they’ve used Lucene in a project. I still figure I’ve only heard about a small fraction of all Lucene applications.

Lucene is much more widely used than it ever would have been if I had tried to sell it. Application developers seem to prefer open source. Instead of having to contact technical support when they have a problem (and then wait for an answer, hoping they were correctly understood), they can frequently just look at the source code to diagnose their problems. If that’s not enough, the free support provided by peers on the mailing lists is better than most commercial support. A functioning open-source project like Lucene makes application developers more efficient and productive.

Lucene, through open source, has become something much greater than I ever imagined it would. I set it going, but it took the combined efforts of the Lucene community to make it thrive.

So what’s next for Lucene? I can’t tell you. Armed with this book, you are now a member of the Lucene community, and it’s up to you to take Lucene to new places. Bon voyage!

Creator of Lucene and Nutch


"The book is more a crystal ball than ink on paper -- I seem to run into solutions to my most pressing problems as I read through it."
--Arman Anwar, Arman@Web

"This is definitely the book to have if you're planning on using Lucene in your application, or are interested in what Lucene can do for you."

"Well thought out...thoroughly edited...stands out clearly from the crowd....

I enjoyed reading this book. If you have any text searching needs, this book will be more than sufficient equipment to guide you to successful completion. Even, if you are just looking to download a pre-written search engine, then this book will provide a good background to the nature of information retrieval in general and text indexing and searching specifically."

"Provides a detailed blueprint for using and customizing Lucene...a thorough introduction to the inner workings of what's arguably the most popular open source search engine...loaded with code examples and emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning."

"Outstanding...comprehensive and up-to-date ...grab this book and learn how to leverage Lucene's potential."
--Val's blog

"Search powers the information age. This book is a gateway to this invaluable resource...It succeeds admirably in elucidating the application programming interface (API), with many code examples and cogent explanations, opening the door to a fine tool."
--Computing Reviews

"A must read for anyone who wants to learn about Lucene or is even considering embedding search into their applications or just wants to learn about information retrieval in general. Highly recommended!"

"I Love Lucene" at
Read a testimonial to Lucene at in an article entitled, "I Love Lucene". This story chronicles how the site implemented a Lucene based solution at their site. This is also a case study from the book.

"A comprehensive guide...The authors of this book are experts in this field ... they have unleashed the power of Lucene...the best guide to Lucene available so far."

" Hatcher and Gospodnetic bring their experience as two of Lucene's core committers to author this excellently written book. This book helps any developer not familiar with Lucene or development of a search engine to get up to speed within minutes on the project and domain. ...I would recommend this book to anyone who is new to Lucene, anyone who needs powerful indexing and searching capabilities in their application, or anyone who needs a great reference for Lucene."
-- Fort Worth Java Users Group

MEET LUCENE at JavaLobby
Learn about Lucene direct from source! View the excellent audio-video presentation by co-author Erik Hatcher entitled "Meet Lucene" at You can download and watch the entire presentation on demand!

"A quick and easy guide to making Lucene work."