Vespa Use Cases

Vespa is a generic platform for Big Data Serving. Find sample use cases below for popular uses cases for Vespa

E-commerce: shopping and product catalog

Find a sample application at E-commerce: shopping and product catalog

Highlighted features

  • multiple document types
  • partial updates
  • custom handlers
  • custom document
  • processors
  • custom configuration
  • search using YQL
  • grouping
  • rank profiles
  • rank functions


Vespa is widely used as a recommendation engine, recommening personalized articles, ads matching user profile and history, video recommendations, people matching. Implementations vary from vector dot products to neural nets - both using tensors to represent models and data.

Read more in the blog recommendation tutorial.

Highlighted features

  • Machine-learned models
  • User profile lookup in Java plugin code

Social Media

In social media, content is often user generated. A used is hence related to the data elements, like author, owner and so on. This is a good use case for structured data and/or parent/child.

Example 1: A user writes a comment to an article. All comments from the same user have the same parent document. As some users are better writers than others, comments can be ranked based on an author score. Updating an author score is hence updating one document only.

Example 2: Users tag items. A document can have a multivalue field like array to struct to save such data as tag value/timestamp/author.

Highlighted features

  • No de-normalization needed - simplifies data updates (one write) and atomic update into all children
  • Search child documents based on properties from parent documents
  • Search parent documents only
  • Multi-value field types like arrays and maps
  • Struct field type

Vespa supports text search and grouping (aggregation, faceting) - see the blog search tutorial. Implement multi-phase ranking to spend most resources on the most relevant hits. Often enhanced with auto-complete using n-grams

Rank profiles are just mathematical expressions, to enable almost any kind of computation over a large data set.

For text search using BM25, see the text search tutorial.

Use tensors to represent text embeddings and build a real time semantic search engine.

Highlighted features

  • Ranking
  • Grouping
  • ML models
  • Tensors
  • Auto-complete

A search engine normally implements indexing structures like reverse indexes to reduce query latency. It does indexing up-front, so later matching and ranking is quick. It also normally keeps a copy of the original document for later retrieval / use in search summaries. Simplified, the engine keeps the original data plus auxiliary data structures to reduce query latency. This induces both extra work - indexing - as compared to only store the raw data, and extra static resource usage - disk, memory - to keep these structures.

Streaming search is an alternative to indexed search. It is useful in cases where the document corpus is statically split into many subsets and all searches go to just one (or a few) of the small subsets. The canonical example being personal indexes where a user only searches his own data.

Highlighted features

  • Streaming search