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Algolia vs Sphinx: What are the differences?

Algolia: Developer-friendly API and complete set of tools for building search. Our mission is to make you a search expert. Push data to our API to make it searchable in real time. Build your dream front end with one of our web or mobile UI libraries. Tune relevance and get analytics right from your dashboard; Sphinx: Open source full text search server, designed from the ground up with performance, relevance (aka search quality), and integration simplicity in mind. Sphinx lets you either batch index and search data stored in an SQL database, NoSQL storage, or just files quickly and easily — or index and search data on the fly, working with Sphinx pretty much as with a database server. A variety of text processing features enable fine-tuning Sphinx for your particular application requirements, and a number of relevance functions ensures you can tweak search quality as well.

Algolia belongs to "Search as a Service" category of the tech stack, while Sphinx can be primarily classified under "Search Engines".

Some of the features offered by Algolia are:

  • Database search
  • Multi-attributes
  • Search as you type

On the other hand, Sphinx provides the following key features:

  • Output formats: HTML (including Windows HTML Help), LaTeX (for printable PDF versions), ePub, Texinfo, manual pages, plain text
  • Extensive cross-references: semantic markup and automatic links for functions, classes, citations, glossary terms and similar pieces of information
  • Hierarchical structure: easy definition of a document tree, with automatic links to siblings, parents and children

"Ultra fast" is the primary reason why developers consider Algolia over the competitors, whereas "Fast" was stated as the key factor in picking Sphinx.

Medium, StackShare, and Product Hunt are some of the popular companies that use Algolia, whereas Sphinx is used by Webedia, Grooveshark, and Ansible. Algolia has a broader approval, being mentioned in 258 company stacks & 54 developers stacks; compared to Sphinx, which is listed in 38 company stacks and 14 developer stacks.

Advice on Algolia and Sphinx
Rana Usman Shahid
Chief Technology Officer at TechAvanza · | 5 upvotes · 218.6K views
Needs advice
on
FirebaseFirebaseElasticsearchElasticsearch
and
AlgoliaAlgolia

Hey everybody! (1) I am developing an android application. I have data of around 3 million record (less than a TB). I want to save that data in the cloud. Which company provides the best cloud database services that would suit my scenario? It should be secured, long term useable, and provide better services. I decided to use Firebase Realtime database. Should I stick with Firebase or are there any other companies that provide a better service?

(2) I have the functionality of searching data in my app. Same data (less than a TB). Which search solution should I use in this case? I found Elasticsearch and Algolia search. It should be secure and fast. If any other company provides better services than these, please feel free to suggest them.

Thank you!

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Replies (2)
Josh Dzielak
Co-Founder & CTO at Orbit · | 8 upvotes · 165.8K views
Recommends
AlgoliaAlgolia

Hi Rana, good question! From my Firebase experience, 3 million records is not too big at all, as long as the cost is within reason for you. With Firebase you will be able to access the data from anywhere, including an android app, and implement fine-grained security with JSON rules. The real-time-ness works perfectly. As a fully managed database, Firebase really takes care of everything. The only thing to watch out for is if you need complex query patterns - Firestore (also in the Firebase family) can be a better fit there.

To answer question 2: the right answer will depend on what's most important to you. Algolia is like Firebase is that it is fully-managed, very easy to set up, and has great SDKs for Android. Algolia is really a full-stack search solution in this case, and it is easy to connect with your Firebase data. Bear in mind that Algolia does cost money, so you'll want to make sure the cost is okay for you, but you will save a lot of engineering time and never have to worry about scale. The search-as-you-type performance with Algolia is flawless, as that is a primary aspect of its design. Elasticsearch can store tons of data and has all the flexibility, is hosted for cheap by many cloud services, and has many users. If you haven't done a lot with search before, the learning curve is higher than Algolia for getting the results ranked properly, and there is another learning curve if you want to do the DevOps part yourself. Both are very good platforms for search, Algolia shines when buliding your app is the most important and you don't want to spend many engineering hours, Elasticsearch shines when you have a lot of data and don't mind learning how to run and optimize it.

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Mike Endale
Recommends
Cloud FirestoreCloud Firestore

Rana - we use Cloud Firestore at our startup. It handles many million records without any issues. It provides you the same set of features that the Firebase Realtime Database provides on top of the indexing and security trims. The only thing to watch out for is to make sure your Cloud Functions have proper exception handling and there are no infinite loop in the code. This will be too costly if not caught quickly.

For search; Algolia is a great option, but cost is a real consideration. Indexing large number of records can be cost prohibitive for most projects. Elasticsearch is a solid alternative, but requires a little additional work to configure and maintain if you want to self-host.

Hope this helps.

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Pros of Algolia
Pros of Sphinx
  • 125
    Ultra fast
  • 95
    Super easy to implement
  • 73
    Modern search engine
  • 71
    Excellent support
  • 70
    Easy setup, fast and relevant
  • 46
    Typos handling
  • 40
    Search analytics
  • 31
    Designed to search records, not pages
  • 30
    Multiple datacenters
  • 30
    Distributed Search Network
  • 10
    Smart Highlighting
  • 9
    Search as you type
  • 8
    Instantsearch.js
  • 8
    Multi-attributes
  • 6
    Super fast, easy to set up
  • 5
    Amazing uptime
  • 5
    Database search
  • 4
    Realtime
  • 4
    Great documentation
  • 4
    Highly customizable
  • 4
    Github-awesome-autocomple
  • 3
    Powerful Search
  • 3
    Beautiful UI
  • 3
    Places.js
  • 2
    Integrates with just about everything
  • 2
    Awesome aanltiycs and typos hnadling
  • 1
    Fast response time
  • 1
    Smooth platform
  • 1
    Github integration
  • 1
    Developer-friendly frontend libraries
  • 16
    Fast
  • 8
    Simple deployment
  • 6
    Open source
  • 1
    Lots of extentions

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Cons of Algolia
Cons of Sphinx
  • 10
    Expensive
    Be the first to leave a con

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    What is Algolia?

    Our mission is to make you a search expert. Push data to our API to make it searchable in real time. Build your dream front end with one of our web or mobile UI libraries. Tune relevance and get analytics right from your dashboard.

    What is Sphinx?

    It lets you either batch index and search data stored in an SQL database, NoSQL storage, or just files quickly and easily — or index and search data on the fly, working with it pretty much as with a database server.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    What companies use Algolia?
    What companies use Sphinx?
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    What tools integrate with Algolia?
    What tools integrate with Sphinx?

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    What are some alternatives to Algolia and Sphinx?
    Elasticsearch
    Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine capable of storing data and searching it in near real time. Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats and Logstash are the Elastic Stack (sometimes called the ELK Stack).
    Solr
    Solr is the popular, blazing fast open source enterprise search platform from the Apache Lucene project. Its major features include powerful full-text search, hit highlighting, faceted search, near real-time indexing, dynamic clustering, database integration, rich document (e.g., Word, PDF) handling, and geospatial search. Solr is highly reliable, scalable and fault tolerant, providing distributed indexing, replication and load-balanced querying, automated failover and recovery, centralized configuration and more. Solr powers the search and navigation features of many of the world's largest internet sites.
    Swiftype
    Swiftype is the easiest way to add great search to your website or mobile application.
    Azure Search
    Azure Search makes it easy to add powerful and sophisticated search capabilities to your website or application. Quickly and easily tune search results and construct rich, fine-tuned ranking models to tie search results to business goals. Reliable throughput and storage provide fast search indexing and querying to support time-sensitive search scenarios.
    Klevu
    It is an intelligent site search solution designed to help eCommerce businesses increase onsite sales and improve the customer online shopping experience.
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