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Azure Search Updates: Multilanguage, Azure Portal Index Management & More!

Posted on 6 november, 2014

Principal Program Manager, Azure Search
I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about some of the new features that we have recently added to Azure Search.

New API Preview “Prototype” Version

We have made available a new prototype api-version, 2014-10-20-Preview.  The purpose of preview versions moving forward is to allow you to have early access to potential new features to test and provide feedback on.  It is important to note that functionality included in this prototype version could change between now and when we declare the version released (by dropping the -Preview suffix), so it is important that you do not take a dependency on it. This version includes our new multilanguage support, including text analysis for English (described below). The current version for Public Preview is specified as api-version, 2014-07-31-Preview. It is the only locked version, meaning that it will not change.  Prototype API versions allow us to roll out new experimental capabilities and as such can change frequently.

Multilanguage Support

Today we have added support for 27 languages to the prototype Azure Search API version 2014-10-20-Preview.  This allows Azure Search to support the unique characteristics of a given language enabling word-breaking, text normalization (standardizing text to allow for handling characters such as é or â) to work as expected for each supported language. In addition, we have also added support for stemming for relevant languages that allows the Search service to reduce words to their word stems.  For example, the words "running" and "runner", can be reduced to the root word, "run".  Additionally, stop words (such as "I", "to", or "the") can be removed from the analyzed text for the relevant languages.  For more information, please visit the Language Support page. When creating an index, you can choose the language to be used per-field, allowing you to use multiple languages even in the same index and search across them.  This is accomplished by assigning a language to your String and Collection fields. We plan to continue to make enhancements to this Multilanguage support including support for additional languages as we move forward.

New Regions – North Central US & South Central US

We have expanded our support of Azure Search from the existing four data centers (East US, West US, North Europe & SE Asia) to also include support for North Central US & South Central US.  We are continuing to make progress on expanding this even further with additional support in more data centers in the near future.

Azure Portal Index Creation & Management

Since our Public Preview on Aug 21 a key piece of feedback that we have received is that it is not obvious how to create an index after you create your Azure Search Service.  We heard that you wanted to have greater administrative capabilities from within the Azure Portal instead of having to jump directly into coding.  As a result, we have made some enhancements to allow you to create and manage your search index all from within the Azure Search portal. Below are screenshots of the new portal blade for Azure Search that allows you to create a new search index.  From this blade, you can name the search index, create all of the fields and assign the properties for each of them. azure_search_field_management Once you have created the index, you can then see a list of all the search indexes you have created and drill into them to see the details. View Indexes When you drill into one of the search indexes, you can see the usage as well as the fields associated with this index.  If needed, you can click on the fields to add new fields. Index Metrics   In addition to these enhancements to the Azure Portal, we have also made some additions to the API including mergeOrUpload that behaves like a merge if a document with the given key already exists in the index and a new Azure Search Management REST API allowing you to perform common administrative tasks such as creating new services and scaling of search services to allow for additional storage and to support higher QPS rates.  You can also see a sample of how to use this Management API at CodePlex. Hopefully you will take a look at Azure Search and some of these new capabilities by visiting the preview Azure Portal. Liam Cavanagh is a Program Manager for Azure Search and can be contacted on twitter or at his blog.