Zoom Search Engine FAQ - Features

Q. Does Zoom support wild card searches for parts of words?

Yes. Wildcard searches such as "wren*" and "wr?nsoft" will match "wrensoft", etc.

Q. Does Zoom support searching through PDF files, Word files, ... ?

Yes. Purchased editions of Zoom (Standard, Professional, and Enterprise) support the use of plugins (available free for download) to index Word document (.DOC) and Acrobat (.PDF) file types. Once you have purchased a license for Zoom, you simply have to download the plugins and install them. See the plugins page for more information.

Q. Does Zoom run on Linux, Mac, BSD, ... ?

There are two parts to the Zoom software. The indexer and the search scripts. You need to run the indexer at least once to create a set of index file. The search script is run each time there is a search performed on the web site.

The search script can be executed on a web server running on any platform with PHP or ASP installed. It does not require any third party database. A Javascript search script is also available for CD-ROM/DVD distributions, or any hosting situations where PHP or ASP is not available. It does not matter which Operating System the web server is running, so long as the above mentioned scripts are supported (PHP or ASP). The JavaScript version can be used on any web server (but your options and scale are more limited).

However, the indexing must be executed on a computer running Microsoft Windows or a Mac (Mac OSX version is now available for Alpha testing). But you only need to do this every once in a while (depending on how often your website updates). However once you have made a set of index files you upload them to just about any machine. Unix, Linux, Windows, Mac, etc...

So people with Linux and Unix servers (including ourselves) create a set of index files on their desktop PC and upload the index files to the server on a periodic basis. The indexing and uploading can be scheduled from your desktop to happen automatically.

People with a Windows server, that they control, have the choice. Create the index directly on the server itself or create it locally & upload.

Q. Is there a Linux, Mac, BSD, etc.. version of the indexer?

A Mac version is now available for alpha testing.

A Linux version is currently in the works and will be available for public testing soon.

Note #1:Some of our users have had success with running Zoom Indexer on a Mac with Virtual PC 6.1 for Mac. More information on this here.

Note #2: It seems Zoom runs OK on Intel based Mac's that run the Parallels Desktop on OS X. We haven't tested this ourselves but some users have reported it works.

Note that the indexer only needs to be run once (or how ever often you update your website) in order to create and update the "index data" that your search page needs. Once these index files are created from a Windows machine running the Indexer, you can host your search page on any web server, regardless of the Operating System.

Q. Does Zoom support PHP 3, PHP 4 or PHP 5?

Version 6 of Zoom supports PHP 5.0 and later.

Due to increased functionality and technical requirements, the current version of Zoom no longer supports PHP 4.0 or earlier. However, the PHP4 script is available in our older V5 release (which you can find here) but they will not be updated with new features or enhancements. We recommend users to upgrade to the latest version of PHP where possible.

PHP4 was discontinued by the developers of PHP in 2007. So PHP5 should be now available on all hosts that support PHP, at least as an option. Contact your hosting company for details.

Q. Does Zoom work for dynamically generated sites? (with PHP or ASP generated content)

Yes. The spider indexing mode is specifically designed for this, as it indexes the pages it finds by crawling each webpage for links and scanning the pages remotely. Just make sure you have the file extension required (.php, .asp) in the extensions list of the configuration window.

Q. Does Zoom support ColdFusion based sites?

Zoom can index and search a ColdFusion site using Spider mode indexing. This allows it to index any dynamically generated website.

However, there is currently no ColdFusion version of the search script. This means that your server will need to support one of the other server-side scripting languages available (PHP, ASP, CGI), or you will have to use the Javascript version (which can be hosted on any server).

Experienced ColdFusion developers can also wrap the CGI version in a .CF page by coding up a page which executes the CGI binary and return the results within the CF page. Although we do not currently have example code for ColdFusion, you can take a look at the examples available here for PHP and ASP as reference. While the code and syntax will not be the same, the same functionality should be achievable using the equivalent function calls on the ColdFusion platform.

Q. Does Zoom index secure web pages? (https://)

Yes. Just enter the protocol as part of the Spider URL, for example, "https://yoursecurewebsite.com/index.html", and it will scan through the site accordingly.

Q. Does Zoom Search Engine support searching through a database (eg. SQL)?

Zoom can index database-driven sites, regardless of the database backend (eg. MySQL, Postgres, Access, Oracle, etc.). Because Zoom provides a Spider indexing mode, any content which can be accessed by you via a web browser, can also be indexed by the spider.

Note that database content which is not accessible via server-side scripted pages of your website (eg. PHP, ASP, CFM, ASPX etc. pages), will not be indexed. Zoom does not directly connect to the database, because it only return results in the form of URLs or file paths. A database "row" or "column" would not be useful. However, you can create a dynamically generated database index to make your database search engine friendly and allow that aspect of your site to be indexed. See How can I use Zoom to index portions of my site stored in a database (eg. SQL)? for more information.

Q. Does the spider mode follow .htaccess redirections?

Yes. Spider indexing mode follows .htaccess redirections for all files.

However, there is one exception: if you have "Use description files for plugin extensions" enabled (only available in Standard and Pro edition), redirecting ".desc" files are not supported due to the way Zoom needs to determine if the file exists or not.

Q. Does the spider mode support use of the robot exclusion file (robots.txt)?

Yes! Zoom now supports "robots.txt" files and will locate and obey their instructions by default. Please see this page for more information.

Q. Does Zoom support very large sites? What are the practical limits of the size of sites that Zoom can be used with?

We have greatly improved the capability of Zoom to support large sites, and it now utilises less memory than before, making it possible to index much larger sites on your computer.

You can always expect reasonable performance (with any of the search option) for up to around ten thousand pages depending on the number of unique words found in your site's content as well as your web server's specifications (processor, memory, server load, etc.).

For the PHP and ASP versions, there is a technical restriction of 65,500 pages due to performance limitations of the scripting environments used. You can however, surpass this by using the CGI version.

The CGI version provides high-performance support for very large sites. It is a binary application so it does not have any of the overhead issues of scripting languages such as PHP, ASP or Perl.

The CGI version can support sites containing a million pages or more (again, depending on the content). It would still be limited by the resources available on your web server (such as the CPU and memory available, or the limitation of your file system). Also note that indexing a site (or collection of sites) to such a grand scale would require a very resourceful computer. The limits are higher on 64bit systems as more RAM is available.

For detailed information on indexing gigantic sites with helpful tips and advice on how to do this (and a real-life case study of indexing the entirety of Wikipedia), please see this support article: Indexing Enormous Sites.

For a distributed system which performs parallel searching on multiple servers and indexing computers, see our MasterNode solution.

The JavaScript version is even more limited by the web browser you are running the search from. As reference, IE 6.0's JavaScript may struggle with index data of over 65,000 unique words (not pages) due to its memory usage limitations (note however, there are only about 30,000 words that are in common use in the English dictionary). If you have CD-ROM content that exceeds these limits, we offer the option of running the CGI version without the use of a webserver. Read more about this here.

See our benchmarks page for some practical comparisons of the above scripting options and the performance you can expect on sites of various sizes.

Q. Does the JavaScript version of the search script run on all browsers?

Due to the various implementations of Javascript on different browsers, we can not guarantee that Zoom's Javascript will work correctly on all browsers.

Most notably, older browsers with primitive Javascript support will not work with the Javascript search (Note: this does not affect users of the PHP and ASP versions of Zoom). Below are a list of known browsers which does not run Javascript Zoom:

  • Early versions of Internet Explorer before 5.0 (eg: 3.x, 4.x)
  • Internet Explorer 5.0 for Apple MacOS

For larger sites running on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM or any situation where a web server is not available, take a look at this FAQ which allows you to run the CGI or PHP version without a web server.

Q. Does Zoom suit forensics use? Can I use Zoom to search and index a computer for digital forensics purposes?

Yes. While Zoom is designed for web sites and Intranet files, we have a product known as OSForensics which is designed specifically for forensics purposes.

It uses a custom built version of the Zoom engine to index not only your document files, but also unallocated clusters, and the suspect's e-mails. It is the most definitive tool for digital forensics investigation yet. Please find out more at our OSForensics website.

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