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SolrEad is a gem that indexes your ead documents into Solr. From there, you can use other Solr-based applications to search and display your finding aids. It originated as some code that I used to index ead into Blacklight, but this gem does not require you to use Blacklight. You can use this gem with any Solr-based app.

SolrEad uses OM (Opinionated Metadata) to define terms in your ead xml, then uses Solrizer to create solr fields from those terms. An indexer is included that has basic create, update and delete methods for getting your documents in and out of solr via the RSolr gem.

The default term definitions are all based on eads created with Archivist's Toolkit, so whatever conventions AT has in its ead will be manifested here. However, you are able to override this definitions with your own to meet any specific local needs.


SolrEad's default way of indexing a single ead document is to create one solr document for the initial part of the ead and then separate documents for each component node. You may also elect to use a simple indexing option which creates only one solr document per ead document.

For more information on indexing, see the documentation for SolrEad::Indexer.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'solr_ead'

And then execute:

$ bundle install

Or install it yourself:

$ gem install solr_ead


$ rake solr_ead:index FILE=/path/to/your/ead.xml
$ rake solr_ead:index_dir DIR=/path/to/your/eads SIMPLE=true
$ rake solr_ead:index_dir DIR=/path/to/your/eads SOLR_URL=

You can also do this via the command line:

> indexer =
> indexer.create("path/to/your/ead.xml))


SolrEad is intended to work at the indexing layer of an application, but it can also work at the display and presentation layer as well. You can use the solr fields defined in your OM terminology for display; however, formatting information such as italics and boldface is not preserved from the original EAD xml.

For those that need to preserve the formatting of their finding aids, you can use XSLT to process your EAD for display in your application and use SolrEad to index your finding aids for searching.

When creating display pages of your finding aids, you can either use "ready-made" html pages created using XSLT, or create the html when the page is requested. If you opt for the latter, you can store the ead xml in a solr field. To do this, add a new solr field under the to_solr method of your OM terminology for the ead document:

Solrizer.insert_field(solr_doc, "xml", self.to_xml, :displayable)

This will create the solr field "xml_ssm" containing the complete ead xml. Then you will be able to apply any xslt processing you wish. Other solutions are possible using xml from the document as well as the component, depending on the needs of your application.

EAD Formatting

EAD xml may contain formatted text such as:

<title render="italic">this is italicized</title>

When OM processes any node that contains formatted text, the formatted nodes will be ignored and the text will appear without any of the <title> tags denoting format. If you wish to have the formatting preserved as converted HTML, you may add the formatted string to your solr document:

Solrizer.set_field(solr_doc, "title", self.term_to_html("title"), :displayable)

See the section on customization for more information.


Chances are the default definitions are not sufficient for your needs. If you want to create your own definitions for documents and components, here's what you can do.

Writing a custom document definition

Under lib or another directory of your choice, create the file custom_document.rb with the following content:

class CustomDocument < SolrEad::Document

  # Use the existing terminology
  use_terminology SolrEad::Document

  # And extend it with terms of your own
  extend_terminology do |t|

  # Or, just define your own from scratch
  set_terminology do |t|
    t.root(:path="ead", :index_as = [:not_searchable])

    # Add additional term definitions here


  # Optionally, you may tweak other solr fields here.  Otherwise, you can leave this
  # method out of your definition.
  def to_solr(solr_doc =


From the console, index you ead document using your new definition.

> file = "path/to/ead.xml"
> indexer =>CustomDocument)
> indexer.create(file)

Or index from the rake task

$ rake solr_ead:index FILE=path/to/file.xml CUSTOM_DOCUMENT=path/to/custom_document.rb

Writing a custom component definition

Similar to the custom document definition, you can create a custom component definition for component indexing:

class CustomComponent < SolrEad::Component

Call this from the console

> indexer =>CustomDocument, :component=>CustomComponent)

Or from the rake task

$ rake solr_ead:index FILE=path/to/file.xml CUSTOM_DOCUMENT=path/to/custom_document.rb CUSTOM_COMPONENT=path/to/custom_component.rb

Adding custom methods

Suppose you want to add some custom methods that perform additional manipulations of your solr fields after they've been pulled from your ead. You can create a module for all your specialized methods and add it to your ead document.

module MyEadBehaviors

  def special_process(field)
    # manipulate your field here
    return field


Then, include your module in your own custom document and call the method during to_solr:

class CustomDocument < SolrEad::Document

  include MyEadBehaviors

  use_terminology SolrEad::Document

  def to_solr(solr_doc =
    Solrizer.insert_field(solr_doc, "field", special_process(self.field), :displayable)


Your solr document will now include the field "field_ssm" that has taken the term "field" and processed it with the special_process method.

Solr schema configurations

SolrEad uses Solrizer's default field descriptors to create the names of solr fields. A complete listing of these fields is found under Solrizer::DefaultDescriptors but the options that are used here are specifically:

:type => :integer
:type => :boolean
:sortable, :type => :integer

These result in a specific set of dynamic field names that will need to be present in your schema.xml file in solr. In order to have these fields index correctly, include the following in your schema.xml file:

<dynamicField name="*_teim"  type="text_en"   stored="false" indexed="true"  multiValued="true"  />
<dynamicField name="*_si"    type="string"    stored="false" indexed="true"  multiValued="false" />
<dynamicField name="*_sim"   type="string"    stored="false" indexed="true"  multiValued="true"  />
<dynamicField name="*_ssm"   type="string"    stored="true"  indexed="false" multiValued="true"  />
<dynamicField name="*_ssi"   type="string"    stored="true"  indexed="true"  multiValued="false" />
<dynamicField name="*_ssim"  type="string"    stored="true"  indexed="true"  multiValued="true"  />
<dynamicField name="*_dtsi"  type="date"      stored="true"  indexed="true"  multiValued="false" />
<dynamicField name="*_dtsim" type="date"      stored="true"  indexed="true"  multiValued="true"  />
<dynamicField name="*_bsi"   type="boolean"   stored="true"  indexed="true"  multiValued="false" />
<dynamicField name="*_isim"  type="int"       stored="true"  indexed="true"  multiValued="true"  />
<dynamicField name="*_ii"    type="int"       stored="false" indexed="true"  multiValued="false" />

Note that the type "text_en" is dependent on your particular solr application, but the others should be included in the default installation.

Displaying HTML

For converting formatted ead nodes to HTML, override the term's contents in the to_solr method:

class CustomDocument < SolrEad::Document

  use_terminology SolrEad::Document

  def to_solr(solr_doc =
    Solrizer.set_field(solr_doc, "title", self.term_to_html("title"), :displayable)


The above example takes the title term as it is defined in SolrEad::Document and changes the contents of its solr display field. In this case, the contents of the xml node for the "title" OM term are processed by the term_to_html method which converts the ead xml to html and stores it in the solr field given by the set_field method.

The details of conversion from ead xml to html are specified in SolrEad::Formatting.


eadid format

solr_ead uses the node to create unique ids for documents. Consequently, if you're using a rails app, this id will be a part of the url. If your eadid has .xml or some other combination of characters preceded by a period, this will cause Rails to interpret these characters as a format, which you don't want. You may need to edit your eadid nodes if this is the case.


Testing with Jettywrapper

SolrEad uses jettywrapper to download a solr application for testing. To get setup for developing additional features for SolrEad:

git clone
bundle install
rake ci

This will download jetty, start it up and run the spec tests. If you have questions or have specific needs, let me know. If you have other ideas or solutions, please contribute code!

  1. Fork SolrEad
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Add your code
  4. Add tests for your code and make sure it doesn't break existing features
  5. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  6. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  7. Create new Pull Request

Copyright (c) 2012 Adam Wead. See LICENSE for details.