Magento Search: Getting Better Results In Product Searches

Magento is a whopping big platform – even the community edition is something of a beast. That gives it a nasty learning curve, and while, in most cases, it simply works, there are some places where it tries to be clever, with mixed results.

The product search is a case in point. A friend was recently trying to get it to cooperate, but the way the results were being returned made it quite unusable. By default, the search uses an OR comparison to find what you’re after, so if you look for “web development books”, it will give you any product whose description contains “web”, “development”, or “books”. Since the order or relation of the words is not considered, you might end up with Twilight as a top result, which I’m sure you’ll agree, is not conductive to your users not gutting you with a rusty fork.

The easiest way I found to fix this, is to change the search query, defined by the fulltext.php file (/app/code/core/Mage/CatalogSearch/Model/Mysql4/fulltext.php). Continue reading

Visualizing data with Google Maps

map-screenshot A few weeks ago, a club I’m a member of was updating its membership information. Since the data was being collected in a Google spread sheet, I thought it would be interesting to create a map visualization to show where the members come from. In this post, we’ll write a map overlay which will generate a display like the one in the following image using data drawn from a Google spread sheet. Basically, we’re going to give a map a nasty rash.

You can also see the map here, or download the files here. Note that the size of each location has been fudged and bears no relation to the values originally collected in the membership survey.

Continue reading

Because we can

A few days ago, my next desk neighbour, Joe, put together a neat little Chrome extension which adds keyboard shortcuts for use in NeoGAF. It looked like fun, so I wanted to make one too, and, over the course of a smoking break, decided that it should tell me how many days are left until next St. Patrick’s day. Because hey, beer.


Version 0.1 of the plugin can be installed from its own page in the Chrome extensions repository. Enjoy!
The icons used in the plugin are from the Windows Beer Set from

Build even less (or incredibly more) useful stuff. Check out The Little Book of JavaScript!

RESTful Web Applications with Jersey and Spring

A couple of months ago, we were tasked with creating an API to expose some functions in our system to third party developers. We chose to expose these functions as a series of REST web services. I got to play with Jersey, the reference implementation of JSR 311 (Java API for Restful Services); this turned out to be a nice surprise, as it proved to be extremely powerful and elegant. In this post, we’ll create a very simple REST web service using Jersey.

Continue reading