As an Apache project, Lucene has been a bit like Rodney Dangerfield: It gets no respect. While some die-hard faithful cling to this Java enterprise search library, many developers were alienated by the difficulty of using and configuring this open-source tool. So, Lucene was festooned with Solr, a search server based on Lucene.

Now, Lucid Imagination, a company founded to support and develop software based on Lucene, hopes to push the project even further into enterprises by meeting developers halfway.

David Fishman, vice president of marketing at Lucid Imagination, said this was the goal of LucidWorks Enterprise, the company’s first enterprise product offering based on Lucene and Solr. “There’s demand for a better integrated package to simplify how developers can build search applications,” he said.

“We hear from developers: ‘Thank god for Solr, because Lucene was too hard.’ Developers also wanted a [better-maintained] package, so we hope to raise the bar there.

“We’re also adding additional functionality to make it easier for developers to get their work done. We’re adding features to LucidWorks Enterprise, like a REST API to allow you to configure and control your Solr search engine in a more stateful, more robust fashion. Another thing we’re doing is organizing the product with smarter defaults.”

That last point comes from finding customers who would install the server, then leave it as is without configuring it properly. Overall, the focus of this new release, said Fishman, is making life easier for developers who want to build enterprise search applications.

To that end, LucidWorks Enterprise includes pre-written code to handle some common search needs, said Fishman. For example, LucidWorks Enterprise can flag data that is useful for analysis. This, he said, is the behavior that allows Netflix to see which movies are popular in which genres.

The search platform also includes software for tracking new information and generating alerts. Brian Pinkerton, chief architect at Lucid Imagination, said that a big problem for Lucene and Solr, until now, has been acquiring and entering data into the search system.

“It’s a great search application, but you have to bring the data and present it to Solr,” he said. “We’ve added some fairly simple collectors that allow you to get data from the three sources most commonly used: databases, file systems and Web crawling.”

Fishman said that a primary differentiator for LucidWorks Enterprise is its pricing. Licenses range from US$38,000 per year for a 10-seat development license, to $96,000 per year for enterprise deployments of two servers with 24×7 support. Additional servers cost $1,000 per server per year.

Fishman said that Lucid Imagination is hoping to beat the competition on price, some of whom charge based on the number of documents indexed.