Apache Solr with Drupal 8 and Search API Solr

Solr Indexing

DDEV-Local’s first official third-party service was Apache Solr, and lots of people have used it successfully over the years. But I never actually took the time to explore what was going on, and to support people who are having trouble it’s best if you actually understand the context 🙂 Since I had to do a deep dive into DDEV’s Solr setup recently, here are some of the things I learned. I was mostly focused on Drupal 8, but many of the things I learned are applicable to any DDEV (or other Docker-based) Solr environment.

This will be a Drupal 8-specific Solr setup, but the fundamentals can be applied to any CMS.

Many, many of the problems people have with Solr are a result of our highly advanced copy/paste culture 🙂 I’m going to go into minor detail about the component parts here because I think you have to understand at least a little bit about each one.

  • Apache Solr is a famous search-indexing and search platform written in Java and based on Apache Lucene. Its jobs are to 1) take content given to it and create a search index so key words and phrases can find particular content and 2) tell clients how to find something using that search index.
  • Docker Solr is the official Docker Hub Solr image. It is provided in many versions. I’m only discussing v8 (current) in this article. There’s a Docker Solr github repo and a super-important README. You probably can’t understand what’s going on in any docker-compose setup that uses Docker Solr if you don’t read that README.
  • Drupal 8’s Search API module is the generic search approach used by most Drupal sites. Solr is the most popular backend for search_api module.

The big-picture job that we have to do with Solr and DDEV-Local (with any CMS type) is to add a Solr server and configure its datasets. Then the CMS itself has to be configured to talk to the Solr server.

For Drupal 8, the Search API Solr module adds the Solr piece to Search API module. It has very explicit installation instructions on how to set up Solr and configure it, but they assume a bare-metal Solr server, rather than docker-solr.

DDEV-Local’s strategy is to use a single-core Docker Solr in a docker-compose.solr.yaml file, so I’ll walk through what I learned there piece by piece.

Some assumptions:

  • The name of the core we’ll use is “dev”. That’s referred to throughout the configuration
  • There is a single core. It’s named “dev” 🙂

DDEV-Local Solr Big Picture

  • Add a .ddev/docker-compose.solr.yaml that sets up Docker Solr
  • Add the .ddev/solr/solr_configupdate.sh script to cause Solr configuration to be re-read on each ddev restart.
  • Add the Solr configuration files into .ddev/solr/conf

Drupal 8 and Module Setup

In the interest of starting from scratch, I’ll start with a completely clean Drupal 8 project. I’m doing this in a project and directory called “d8solr”, so URLs will look like https://d8solr.ddev.site.

Based on the regular Drupal 8 quickstart, modified with instructions from search_api_solr concerning Symfony’s event-dispatcher that may not be required in the long run, we’ll do a:

  • Composer install
  • Basic quick drush si of Drupal 8
  • Enable the search_api_solr module with drush
  • Add the docker-compose.solr.yaml
  • Add .ddev/solr/solr_configupdate.sh to automatically update the Solr config when it changes
ddev composer create drupal/recommended-project:~8.8.0 
ddev composer require symfony/event-dispatcher:\"4.3.4 as 3.4.35\" drupal/search_api_solr ddev config --project-type=drupal8 --docroot=web
ddev composer create drupal/recommended-project:~8.8.0
ddev composer require symfony/event-dispatcher:\"4.3.4 as 3.4.35\" drupal/search_api_solr
ddev config --project-type=drupal8 --docroot=web

# Quick-install Drupal's demo_umami profile and enable search_api_solr
ddev exec drush si demo_umami --db-url=mysqli://db:db@db/db --account-name=admin --account-pass=admin
ddev exec drush en -y search_api_solr

# Get the docker-compose.solr.yaml
cd .ddev && curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/drud/ddev/master/pkg/servicetest/testdata/TestServices/docker-compose.solr.yaml

# Add the solr-configupdate.sh script
mkdir -p solr/conf
cd solr && rm -rf solr-configupdate.sh && curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/drud/ddev/master/pkg/servicetest/testdata/TestServices/solr-configupdate.sh && chmod +x solr-configupdate.sh
ddev restart

Now I can go to the Search API configuration at /admin/config/search/search-api (https://d8solr.ddev.site/admin/config/search/search-api in my case). There I have to take these steps based on the search_api_solr INSTALL directions:

  1. Click “Add server”
  2. The server name is descriptive rather than important here. Call it “ddev_solr”
  3. Use the “standard” Solr connector
  4. Use the “http” protocol
  5. The “solr host” should be “solr” NOT the default “localhost”. It’s the name of the “host” running the solr server inside docker-land, and its hostname is “solr” with the docker-compose.solr.yaml we’re using
  6. The “solr core” must be named “dev” unless you are going to customize the docker-compose.solr.yaml
  7. Under “Advanced server configuration” set the “solr.install.dir” to /opt/solr
  8. After you’ve clicked “Save”, download the config.zip provided on /admin/config/search/search-api/server/dev (or create it using ddev exec drush solr-gsc ddev_solr /tmp/config.zip)
  9. Unzip the config.zip into .ddev/solr/conf. For example, ddev ssh and then cd /var/www/html/ddev/solr/conf && unzip ~/Downloads/solr_8.x-config.zip
  10. ddev restart
  11. It’s now time to create a search index. On /admin/config/search/search-api (my https://d8solr.ddev.site/en/admin/config/search/search-api), click “Add index”, give a name to the index, and check at least “Content” for indexing. Choose the “ddev_solr” server for the index. After clicking “Save” you can choose to do the indexing immediately. (ddev exec drush sapi-i is another way to do this.)
  12. At this point, you should be able to access the dev core at http://<project>.ddev.site:8983/solr/#/~cores/dev where you’ll see that numDocs is 36 (or something related to the number of nodes in your project)
  13. In addition, https://<project>.ddev.site/admin/config/search/search-api/server/ddev_solr should show some of the same information.
  14. To re-index, you can use the web UI to “delete all indexed data” and then reindex, or ddev exec "drush sapi-sc ddev_solr && drush sapi-i"


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