LIFTI XmlWordSplitter

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The XmlWordSplitter is a new word splitter class in the latest release of LIFTI. I created it mainly because it was required for the persisted index sample, but it seemed too useful to keep out of the core framework.

At a very high level the XmlWordSplitter just enumerates words contained within elements in a piece of XML text. This means that element names, attributes and their associated values will not be indexed. For example, consider the following XML:


The xml splitter will return the following words:

Word Word index
THE 0, 6

Importantly, notice that the word “the” is reported at positions 0 and 6 - the word index is relative to first word in the document, regardless of whether there are XML elements that interrupt the flow of the text.

To stem or not to stem?

One question that sprung to mind when developing this was whether the splitter should stem the words it returned, like the StemmingWordSplitter, or just return them verbatim, like the basic WordSplitter does? (The above example would be representative of the latter; a stemming word splitter would have returned words like “jump” instead of “jumped”.)

Taking this question a step further, what if someone has put together their own custom word splitter and they want the xml splitter to behave like that?

To cater for this I decided to defer the splitting of text contained within XML nodes to a child IWordSplitter implementation. So when you construct an XmlWordSplitter, you do so like this:

2var wordSplitter = new StemmingWordSplitter();
3var xmlSplitter = new XmlWordSplitter(wordSplitter);

So if you don’t want the stemming word splitter behaviour for returned words, you just need to swap it out for a different implementation. Neat.

Splitting search words

Previously LIFTI would always use the same word splitter implementation when splitting words that were being indexed and words that were being searched upon. Introducing the XmlWordSplitter had an interesting side-effect - although you were wanting to index text contained in XML, you probably didn’t want to search for words contained in an XML format.

To handle this I added the SearchWordSplitter property to the IFullTextIndex interface - this allows you to specify a different word splitting implementation that should be used when splitting words in a search string. As a small token of my respect to backwards compatibility, if this property isn’t specified or is set to null, then the splitter specified in the WordSplitter property is used, meaning that behaviour is unaffected for existing code.