Highlightingedit

Allows to highlight search results on one or more fields. The implementation uses either the lucene highlighter, fast-vector-highlighter or postings-highlighter. The following is an example of the search request body:

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {}
        }
    }
}

In the above case, the content field will be highlighted for each search hit (there will be another element in each search hit, called highlight, which includes the highlighted fields and the highlighted fragments).

Note

In order to perform highlighting, the actual content of the field is required. If the field in question is stored (has store set to true in the mapping) it will be used, otherwise, the actual _source will be loaded and the relevant field will be extracted from it.

The _all field cannot be extracted from _source, so it can only be used for highlighting if it mapped to have store set to true.

The field name supports wildcard notation. For example, using comment_* will cause all fields that match the expression to be highlighted.

Postings highlighteredit

If index_options is set to offsets in the mapping the postings highlighter will be used instead of the plain highlighter. The postings highlighter:

  • Is faster since it doesn’t require to reanalyze the text to be highlighted: the larger the documents the better the performance gain should be
  • Requires less disk space than term_vectors, needed for the fast vector highlighter
  • Breaks the text into sentences and highlights them. Plays really well with natural languages, not as well with fields containing for instance html markup
  • Treats the document as the whole corpus, and scores individual sentences as if they were documents in this corpus, using the BM25 algorithm

Here is an example of setting the content field to allow for highlighting using the postings highlighter on it:

{
    "type_name" : {
        "content" : {"index_options" : "offsets"}
    }
}
Note

Note that the postings highlighter is meant to perform simple query terms highlighting, regardless of their positions. That means that when used for instance in combination with a phrase query, it will highlight all the terms that the query is composed of, regardless of whether they are actually part of a query match, effectively ignoring their positions.

Warning

The postings highlighter does support highlighting of multi term queries, like prefix queries, wildcard queries and so on. On the other hand, this requires the queries to be rewritten using a proper rewrite method that supports multi term extraction, which is a potentially expensive operation.

Fast vector highlighteredit

If term_vector information is provided by setting term_vector to with_positions_offsets in the mapping then the fast vector highlighter will be used instead of the plain highlighter. The fast vector highlighter:

  • Is faster especially for large fields (> 1MB)
  • Can be customized with boundary_chars, boundary_max_scan, and fragment_offset (see below)
  • Requires setting term_vector to with_positions_offsets which increases the size of the index
  • Can combine matches from multiple fields into one result. See matched_fields
  • Can assign different weights to matches at different positions allowing for things like phrase matches being sorted above term matches when highlighting a Boosting Query that boosts phrase matches over term matches

Here is an example of setting the content field to allow for highlighting using the fast vector highlighter on it (this will cause the index to be bigger):

{
    "type_name" : {
        "content" : {"term_vector" : "with_positions_offsets"}
    }
}

Force highlighter typeedit

The type field allows to force a specific highlighter type. This is useful for instance when needing to use the plain highlighter on a field that has term_vectors enabled. The allowed values are: plain, postings and fvh. The following is an example that forces the use of the plain highlighter:

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {"type" : "plain"}
        }
    }
}

Force highlighting on sourceedit

Note

Added in 1.0.0.RC1.

Forces the highlighting to highlight fields based on the source even if fields are stored separately. Defaults to false.

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {"force_source" : true}
        }
    }
}

Highlighting Tagsedit

By default, the highlighting will wrap highlighted text in <em> and </em>. This can be controlled by setting pre_tags and post_tags, for example:

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "pre_tags" : ["<tag1>"],
        "post_tags" : ["</tag1>"],
        "fields" : {
            "_all" : {}
        }
    }
}

Using the fast vector highlighter there can be more tags, and the "importance" is ordered.

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "pre_tags" : ["<tag1>", "<tag2>"],
        "post_tags" : ["</tag1>", "</tag2>"],
        "fields" : {
            "_all" : {}
        }
    }
}

There are also built in "tag" schemas, with currently a single schema called styled with the following pre_tags:

<em class="hlt1">, <em class="hlt2">, <em class="hlt3">,
<em class="hlt4">, <em class="hlt5">, <em class="hlt6">,
<em class="hlt7">, <em class="hlt8">, <em class="hlt9">,
<em class="hlt10">

and </em> as post_tags. If you think of more nice to have built in tag schemas, just send an email to the mailing list or open an issue. Here is an example of switching tag schemas:

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "tags_schema" : "styled",
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {}
        }
    }
}

Encoderedit

An encoder parameter can be used to define how highlighted text will be encoded. It can be either default (no encoding) or html (will escape html, if you use html highlighting tags).

Highlighted Fragmentsedit

Each field highlighted can control the size of the highlighted fragment in characters (defaults to 100), and the maximum number of fragments to return (defaults to 5). For example:

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {"fragment_size" : 150, "number_of_fragments" : 3}
        }
    }
}

The fragment_size is ignored when using the postings highlighter, as it outputs sentences regardless of their length.

On top of this it is possible to specify that highlighted fragments need to be sorted by score:

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "order" : "score",
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {"fragment_size" : 150, "number_of_fragments" : 3}
        }
    }
}

If the number_of_fragments value is set to 0 then no fragments are produced, instead the whole content of the field is returned, and of course it is highlighted. This can be very handy if short texts (like document title or address) need to be highlighted but no fragmentation is required. Note that fragment_size is ignored in this case.

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "fields" : {
            "_all" : {},
            "bio.title" : {"number_of_fragments" : 0}
        }
    }
}

When using fast-vector-highlighter one can use fragment_offset parameter to control the margin to start highlighting from.

In the case where there is no matching fragment to highlight, the default is to not return anything. Instead, we can return a snippet of text from the beginning of the field by setting no_match_size (default 0) to the length of the text that you want returned. The actual length may be shorter than specified as it tries to break on a word boundary. When using the postings highlighter it is not possible to control the actual size of the snippet, therefore the first sentence gets returned whenever no_match_size is greater than 0.

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {
                "fragment_size" : 150,
                "number_of_fragments" : 3,
                "no_match_size": 150
            }
        }
    }
}

Highlight queryedit

It is also possible to highlight against a query other than the search query by setting highlight_query. This is especially useful if you use a rescore query because those are not taken into account by highlighting by default. Elasticsearch does not validate that highlight_query contains the search query in any way so it is possible to define it so legitimate query results aren’t highlighted at all. Generally it is better to include the search query in the highlight_query. Here is an example of including both the search query and the rescore query in highlight_query.

{
    "fields": [ "_id" ],
    "query" : {
        "match": {
            "content": {
                "query": "foo bar"
            }
        }
    },
    "rescore": {
        "window_size": 50,
        "query": {
            "rescore_query" : {
                "match_phrase": {
                    "content": {
                        "query": "foo bar",
                        "phrase_slop": 1
                    }
                }
            },
            "rescore_query_weight" : 10
        }
    },
    "highlight" : {
        "order" : "score",
        "fields" : {
            "content" : {
                "fragment_size" : 150,
                "number_of_fragments" : 3,
                "highlight_query": {
                    "bool": {
                        "must": {
                            "match": {
                                "content": {
                                    "query": "foo bar"
                                }
                            }
                        },
                        "should": {
                            "match_phrase": {
                                "content": {
                                    "query": "foo bar",
                                    "phrase_slop": 1,
                                    "boost": 10.0
                                }
                            }
                        },
                        "minimum_should_match": 0
                    }
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

Note that the score of text fragment in this case is calculated by the Lucene highlighting framework. For implementation details you can check the ScoreOrderFragmentsBuilder.java class. On the other hand when using the postings highlighter the fragments are scored using, as mentioned above, the BM25 algorithm.

Global Settingsedit

Highlighting settings can be set on a global level and then overridden at the field level.

{
    "query" : {...},
    "highlight" : {
        "number_of_fragments" : 3,
        "fragment_size" : 150,
        "tag_schema" : "styled",
        "fields" : {
            "_all" : { "pre_tags" : ["<em>"], "post_tags" : ["</em>"] },
            "bio.title" : { "number_of_fragments" : 0 },
            "bio.author" : { "number_of_fragments" : 0 },
            "bio.content" : { "number_of_fragments" : 5, "order" : "score" }
        }
    }
}

Require Field Matchedit

require_field_match can be set to true which will cause a field to be highlighted only if a query matched that field. false means that terms are highlighted on all requested fields regardless if the query matches specifically on them.

Boundary Charactersedit

When highlighting a field using the fast vector highlighter, boundary_chars can be configured to define what constitutes a boundary for highlighting. It’s a single string with each boundary character defined in it. It defaults to .,!? \t\n.

The boundary_max_scan allows to control how far to look for boundary characters, and defaults to 20.

Matched Fieldsedit

The Fast Vector Highlighter can combine matches on multiple fields to highlight a single field using matched_fields. This is most intuitive for multifields that analyze the same string in different ways. All matched_fields must have term_vector set to with_positions_offsets but only the field to which the matches are combined is loaded so only that field would benefit from having store set to yes.

In the following examples content is analyzed by the english analyzer and content.plain is analyzed by the standard analyzer.

{
    "query": {
        "query_string": {
            "query": "content.plain:running scissors",
            "fields": ["content"]
        }
    },
    "highlight": {
        "order": "score",
        "fields": {
            "content": {
                "matched_fields": ["content", "content.plain"],
                "type" : "fvh"
            }
        }
    }
}

The above matches both "run with scissors" and "running with scissors" and would highlight "running" and "scissors" but not "run". If both phrases appear in a large document then "running with scissors" is sorted above "run with scissors" in the fragments list because there are more matches in that fragment.

{
    "query": {
        "query_string": {
            "query": "running scissors",
            "fields": ["content", "content.plain^10"]
        }
    },
    "highlight": {
        "order": "score",
        "fields": {
            "content": {
                "matched_fields": ["content", "content.plain"],
                "type" : "fvh"
            }
        }
    }
}

The above highlights "run" as well as "running" and "scissors" but still sorts "running with scissors" above "run with scissors" because the plain match ("running") is boosted.

{
    "query": {
        "query_string": {
            "query": "running scissors",
            "fields": ["content", "content.plain^10"]
        }
    },
    "highlight": {
        "order": "score",
        "fields": {
            "content": {
                "matched_fields": ["content.plain"],
                "type" : "fvh"
            }
        }
    }
}

The above query wouldn’t highlight "run" or "scissor" but shows that it is just fine not to list the field to which the matches are combined (content) in the matched fields.

Note

Technically it is also fine to add fields to matched_fields that don’t share the same underlying string as the field to which the matches are combined. The results might not make much sense and if one of the matches is off the end of the text then the whole query will fail.

Note

There is a small amount of overhead involved with setting matched_fields to a non-empty array so always prefer

    "highlight": {
        "fields": {
            "content": {}
        }
    }

to

    "highlight": {
        "fields": {
            "content": {
                "matched_fields": ["content"],
                "type" : "fvh"
            }
        }
    }

Phrase Limitedit

The fast-vector-highlighter has a phrase_limit parameter that prevents it from analyzing too many phrases and eating tons of memory. It defaults to 256 so only the first 256 matching phrases in the document scored considered. You can raise the limit with the phrase_limit parameter but keep in mind that scoring more phrases consumes more time and memory.

If using matched_fields keep in mind that phrase_limit phrases per matched field are considered.