Friday, February 13, 2009

Feel the Nutch burn...

This week I spent all 3 hours of class time showing my Search Engine students how to install, run, and modify Nutch, an open-source search engine written in Java. Since Nutch is new to me as well, I spent several hours last week trying to get familiar enough to walk my students through the time-consuming, error-prone, and laborious process of getting Nutch to run on Windows and in Eclipse.

I have labeled my newbie experience the "Nutch burn." And boy does it.

I followed a couple of tutorials that were pretty helpful, but I ran into several problems that required me to scour the Web looking for solutions. After much trial and effort, I was able to overcome and make some modifications to Nutch in Eclipse. I also got my modifications to run from the command line.

The barrier to entry is so high and the learning curve so steep that it makes me wonder... there's got to be a better way. The goal is for my class to make a major contribution to Nutch. Maybe our contribution could be to make the initial install/edit process just a little easier.