We’ve upgraded BigOven’s search to a faster, more powerful platform.
At BigOven, we know a key part of our job is to quickly put you in touch with the recipes you’re looking for. We want to do so as fast and simply as possible, whether you’re in the kitchen or on the go.
To that end, I thought you should know that we’ve just completed a major upgrade to BigOven‘s search engine to a faster, much more scaleable platform.
These improvements apply to the entire BigOven platform: the website www.bigoven.com, the BIgOven Recipe Apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, and the BigOven Recipe API. Every month, BigOven spends tens of thousands of dollars just on hosting and bandwidth for the servers that power the free BigOven recipe apps and website, and we’re making a considerable new investment in this new scalable search cluster. (Plug: We’d be delighted to earn your support for these continuing investments via a BigOven Pro membership. BigOven Pro costs less than one latte per month, and removes all ads and unlocks lots of great features!)
This new search speeds things up dramatically today, and it’ll open up new features in the future.
The first thing you’ll notice is that BigOven’s new search engine is just plain faster. Queries that used to take 3-5 seconds now return in a fraction of a second. Our preliminary data suggests that querying is up to 5 times faster than before the upgrade. We believe that performance is a feature.
Since we’ve migrated searching off the major database back-end we use, and instead farmed it out to a separate system, this puts less strain on the database, which means your recipe additions, updates and deletes will be faster as well.
BigOven.com now provides better ways to get to the recipes you want. For instance, type in a search for “asparagus” on BigOven, and you’ll see a lot of asparagus recipes, but also a handy summary categorization by course:
Let’s say you want to only want the Soups that feature asparagus. There’s now a simple way to get there right away. This is called faceted search, and BigOven.com didn’t provide these counts previously. Just click the “Soups, Stews and Chili” link and you’ll be taken there.
By default, BigOven’s looking for your keyword in the title of the recipe, which is what we’ve found gives the most common queries highest relevance. But BigOven also gives you an easy option to broaden the search. Simply click the “Broaden search” button:
Also, we’ve added new scoring methods to boost recipes. If you’ve posted a recipe, and you’re signed in, those recipes you’ve posted will be automatically sorted higher for you, very likely on the first page of results.
So, if you’ve posted your favorite way to make Chocolate Chip Cookies, when you search (when you’re signed in) your recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies will sort much higher than others.
BigOven generally sorts recipes by a proprietary scoring system, wherein BigOven estimates the recipes quality. BigOven examines things like the number of reviews a recipe has, how many different reviewers gave it a higher score, people who’ve favorited it, whether a recipe has a photo, and more. We’re constantly tuning this algorithm, so these factors can and do change. But if you’d like recipes purely sorted by Star Rating, by Date posted (oldest to newest or newest to oldest) or by title, you can change that easily.
Click the button marked “Refine/Sort” and you’ll see many more options, such as showing only those recipes with photos, only those in a particular category or subcategory, only those including or excluding ingredients, whether the recipe is nut free, gluten-free, etc. Some of these filters require optional BigOven Pro membership.
Refine your recipe search with many options. Some are exclusive to Pro membership.
There are a couple other goodies in there too, such as “Did you mean?” support, when you type a common misspelling, like “tuna caserole [sic]“:
BigOven is big, and growing! The BigOven mobile apps have been downloaded over 10 million times, and we now have over 300,000 public recipes (and many more privately-stored recipes.) You are among 2+ million registered members, and BigOven welcomes more than 1,000 new signups every day.
As more and more of our friends join and share recipes, this new server farm is poised to grow more easily. Ripping out the search engine and installing a new one, spread across multiple servers is no simple undertaking, and there’s bound to be some dust settling. If you notice anything strange, or have a suggestion to make it even easier to find the recipes you’re looking for, jot us a note on our Site Comments form. We’re listening.
We hope you enjoy BigOven! Happy cooking.