Preview of the OPTIONAL Sphider Image Indexer search results

Work has progressed to the testing phase of both Sphider 1.6 and the OPTIONAL* Sphider Image Indexer. This is a screenshot of the results of an image search during testing. To get these results, the PHP installation needs to have the imagick module installed. The search will still work without it, but the thumbnail previews will be absent. The rest of the results will remain. Search is in the choice of image name, image url or alt tag contents. Search can be for all indexed sites or be site specific.

Release date of mid-July.

* – Sphider 1.6 will work normally without the Sphider Image Indexer and will automatically detect when it has been installed. Image indexing is integrated into Sphider.

What’s next for Sphider?

Work is proceeding with Sphider 1.6!

What will be new in 1.6?

  • The ability to truncate selected tables from the database tab
  • The ability to clear all site data without deleting the site
  • The ability to crawl a site using a sitemap.xml, provided one exists
  • The option to preview pages from the results listing
  • An issue with resuming suspended indexing has finally been resolved
  • Support for an optional Sphider Image Indexer

At this point, the changes have been made in both the vanilla and PDO versions of 1.6 and testing is ongoing.

And what? An optional Sphider Image Indexer?  This is an add-on that will work with Sphider 1.6. You will be able to build a catalog of images from sites where you have previously indexed the pages. Currently, the indexer itself is being tested, with excellent results. Work has begun on an image search function, but that is still in the VERY early stages and nowhere near being a viable tool. While the indexer required some modification of the core Sphider, the search function will not.

What this means is that once testing of the vanilla and PDO versions of 1.6 are complete, it can be released. The Image Indexer add-on still has to have the search function completed, then both the indexer and search function ported to PDO, and finally fully tested. At that time it will be released as version 0.99.

Since the search function of the add-on is in the very early stages of development, input as to how you would like to see it operate would be considered.

Just what IS this Sphider, anyway?

Sphider is a program designed to visit a web site in an ordered fashion to find the information necessary to create an index for a search engine. This, in turn, allows the site to be searched for pages containing certain keywords or phrases. Spidering programs are also called web crawlers or bots. They operate by following the hyperlinks on each page.

The crawlers which build major internet search sites (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) are quite sophisticated and can find not only keywords and phrases, but images and other content as well. The ranking system of these crawlers is equally sophisticated. Not only are keywords, considered, but so is keyword location and density, relevancy, traffic patterns, tld names, page design, and domain registration length. In fact, Google has a list of over 200 page ranking factors.

Sphider is much simpler. Pages are ranked solely on keyword weighting. Keyword weighting is calculated by word position and frquency and the user has a level of control over the weighting process. Images are not indexed and relevancy is not a factor (although better word position and greater frequency DO indicate higher relevance). While Sphider can index practically any website, the main purpose of the application is for the user to index his or her won website so that an internal search can be made available to site visitors.

There are a number of Sphider flavors. The original Sphider (version 1.3.6) can be found at It is free, but has the disadvantages of being insecure and badly outdated. It is no longer maintained and will start throwing errors on any system running PHP 6.6 or greater. It will not function at all on PHP 7.

Sphider-Plus ( and Sphider-Pro ( are both paid versions of the original and do have added features. I cannot speak as to security or support. Sphider-Pro is at version 3.3, which has a date of 2013, so that may not speak well as to its status. For a small website, many of the enhancements provided by these variations may be overkill.

Then there is the Sphider located here on our Downloads page, It, too, is based upon the original, but has been updated. It functions without error with PHP 5.5 or greater, even with PHP 7. It is much more secure. All SQL queries are made using prepared statements to avoid the risk of SQL injection. Other security measures have also been taken. We even have a variation (PDO) which can not only operate in environments lacking MySQLnd support, but can be used with databases other than MySQL (with some tweaking). It can work with SQLite, PostgreSQL (port kits available for both), ODBC, Microsoft SQL Server, and others. Both the normal and PDO variations are supported. And best of all, they are still free!

Sphider 1.5.4 and Sphider 1.5.4 PDO may not have installed properly

If you did an upgrade, the regular and PDO versions of Sphider 1.5.4 may not have installed properly. You can check whether or not you are affected by checking the Settings tab on the Sphider admin page. If a version other than 1.5.4 (or 1.5.4 PDO) is reported, there is a problem. The settings table in your database is missing a column. Any downloads from this point on will not be affected.

The issue can be easily fixed and is addressed on this sphiderform post.

Sphider 1.5.3 has a similar defect and can be repaired the same way, by editing update_rollup.php and re-running. However, 1.5.3 is not so critical as no changes to the settings table take place excepting for the version number update.