Verity simplifies searching

A new version of Verity Inc.'s enterprise search software could make it easier for federal workers to retrieve information from internal agency portals and public Web sites.

Ultraseek 5.1, which became available earlier this month, marks the first significant release of the product since Verity acquired Inktomi Corp.'s corporate search business late last year. Verity, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is targeting the federal sector as a key market.

Ultraseek users include the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Communications Commission, Transportation Department, Energy Department and the Whitehouse.gov Web site. Customers that own maintenance contracts will have automatic access to the new version, according to Verity officials. The software can be downloaded at www.verity.com.

Organizations opting for Ultraseek 5.1 can expect a number of new usability features. For example, it highlights query terms in documents that are returned from a search. Scott Whitney, director of product management at Verity, said this is an important feature for federal customers dealing with 100-page documents. Without highlighting, users would "have to read through the instances of where the query term is," Whitney said.

Ultraseek also includes a title extraction feature that creates search result titles for documents lacking them. People offering content may not be careful to include a title in the metadata field, Whitney observed. If a document lacks a title, the software will read the document's file name to extract a title. If the file name isn't descriptive, the product will pull out a header or section break from the document. Without title extraction, a search tool returns an untitled document's URL.

The software also provides results by location, grouping results by Web site, directory or folder.

The addition of these features is a departure for corporate search vendors. In the past, such search vendors have placed much less emphasis on usability than their public Web search counterparts have, said Rob Lancaster, senior analyst with the Yankee Group market research firm in Boston. But now, corporate search vendors are taking more of a cue from their consumer-oriented peers, he said.

Administrative Ease

Ease of administration is another Verity addition to Ultraseek, Whitney said, noting that business users may not have ready access to information technology resources.

The product's Layout Manager, for example, lets business line managers customize search results pages without programming. Administrators can control the look and feel of results pages by selecting colors or adjusting the amount of white space between results, for example. The feature also provides control over search options, including results display and categories.

Layout Manager is intended to give administrators the flexibility to customize results pages for different business units. A results page "style sheet" can be created for each department, Whitney said.

Ultraseek's customization feature may prove useful, said Marsha Luevane, senior Internet developer and search manager at Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which currently uses Ultraseek 4.2 with its Web site. Luevane recently had a request for a custom search results page with the lab Web site's logos and branding.

IT officials at the lab, who plans to upgrade to 5.1 later this year, also welcome Ultraseek's new reporting capabilities. The lab already analyzes search logsto facilitate content development, she said.

The software's Reporting Manager lets administrators gain insight into users' search behaviors, according to the company.

Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Refined search

Verity Inc.'s Ultraseek 5.1 enterprise search software sports new features that simplify the search and retrieval of documents.

For users:

* Query terms are highlighted within documents returned in a search.

* Where documents lack titles, they are created based on file names or document headers.

* Results are grouped by Web site, directory or folder.

For administrators:

* Layout Manager lets department heads customize search results pages without programming.

* Reporting Manager reports on top queries and documents, and tracks other search trends.

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