Best Elasticsearch alternatives for text search

Elasticsearch can be complex to set up for text site search. What are your alternatives?

Daniel Palmer
Updated on

Elasticsearch is a free, open source analytics engine built on Apache Lucene. It’s loved by developers for its raw power and configurability; but notorious for being overly complex and difficult to productionize.

This is particularly true when you only want search for your application/website, rather than needing clustering and aggregation.

Let’s take a look at some Elasticsearch alternatives that might help you implement powerful text search a lot more efficiently:

 

Algolia – Instant text search

Algolia is your standard choice of the Elasticsearch alternatives, having shot to popularity thanks to their low latency search and easy to implement prebuilt component library, Algolia Instant Search.

With a generous free plan and a nice dashboard, Algolia represents a great “quick and simple” search implementation.

 

Elasticsearch alternative: Algolia

Pros:

  • Generous free plan
  • Very fast search
  • Good open source component library

Cons:

  • Only does simple text matching
  • Struggles to understand typo’s, synonyms, slang & context without manual confiuration
  • “AI features” are a bit smoke & mirrors, mostly rely on you setting rules
  • Gets very expensive at scale
  • Requires re-indexing for features like sorting
  • You have to maintain your data in two places

 

Typesense – Open source alternative

Don’t want to get stuck in Algolia’s pricing pyramid, or need more control over hosting? Typesense is an Elasticsearch alternative that provides simple, instant text matching like Algolia but open sourced.

If you’re willing to take on the challenges associated with self-hosting, but want an experience more focused on text search than Elasticsearch, Typesense is a great option.

 

Elasticsearch alternative: Typesense

Pros:

  • Open source
  • Very fast, straight forward text search
  • Lots of community built plugins for integration
  • Handles sorting, filtering & facets nicely

Cons:

  • Requires you to self host and maintain on a server
  • Like Algolia, struggles to understand typo’s, synonyms, slang & context without manual configuration
  • No AI functionality to enhance discovery
  • You have to maintain your data in two places

 

Relevance AI – Instant text search that can evolve into a discovery engine

A plug for yours truly! At Relevance AI, we’re building an Elasticsearch alternative that is very different to alternatives like Algolia and Typesense. Relevance AI search is an instant search API that understands “semantics”.

Text search like Algolia, Typesense and Elasticsearch are made for matching keywords with keywords, with a bit of fuzzy typo tolerance. Relevance AI search is able to do this as well.

However, when it comes to dealing with synonyms (i.e. ‘smart phone’ for ‘Samsung Galaxy’), slang (i.e. ‘kicks’ for ‘Nike Air Jordans’) and context (i.e. ‘car park’ is different to ‘dog park’) – you have to set up a bunch of manual rules/definitions with Elasticsearch and co.

What sets Relevance AI apart is the fact that our API allows you to “vectorize” some of your fields. This turns them into an AI data format called a “vector”, which we are able to search based on its meaning. By adding vector search to your text search, we can interpret synonyms, slang and context without you having to do anything!

Relevance AI is also free for fair usage, and only costs if you are a large company or enterprise and need something more full throttle. Try it out!

Example of Synonyms semantic search

 

Elasticsearch alternative: Relevance AI

Pros:

  • Can understand semantics thanks to AI (vectors)
  • Very fast text search (that can be blended with the semantic vector search)
  • Integrates with Algolia Instant Search component library
  • Handles sorting, filtering & facets
  • Generous free plan

Cons:

  • Costs money for large company and enterprise
  • To enable semantic search, you have to “vectorize” some data fields
  • You have to maintain your data in two places

 

Do you have any good Elasticsearch alternatives?

Let us know! We’ll keep updating this post as more good options arise.

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