OpenSearch Tutorial

Getting Started with OpenSearch, Learn about its use-cases, and read about how enhances OpenSearch's developer experience and business experience.


OpenSearch is an Apache 2.0 fork of Elasticsearch 7.10.2, the most popular open-source search and analytics engine. It was created in 2021 and is maintained by AWS and the community. partners with OpenSearch to provide the latest OpenSearch releases to our customers on Google Cloud and AWS. One of the factors that is contributing to the growing usage of OpenSearch is its ability to deliver realtime search results for all types of data including textual, numerical, geospatial, structured, and unstructured. On top of this, OpenSearch allows users to analyze huge volumes of search data in milliseconds. OpenSearch also offers businesses flexibility of hosting on their own or with a cloud provider.

Use-cases of OpenSearch

Thanks to its support of the wide variety of data mentioned earlier, businesses have been able to implement OpenSearch for multiple applications ranging from backend operations to storefront search. Thanks to its versatile nature and realtime search speed capabilities, OpenSearch has been a key piece in helping users find information.

Below are some common use-cases of OpenSearch:

Enterprise Search

Authenticated and authorized search experiences such as employee search portal, customer search portal, SaaS search, and federated search experiences are a great fit for OpenSearch.

Website Search

From media publishers, e-commerce stores to aggregators, OpenSearch is gaining popularity as the best solution for accurate searches. Coupled with the fact that it includes document search, product search, blog search, people search, and many others, it's not surprising to see many of the most-visited sites in the world use OpenSearch.

App Search

Any apps that have the need for access, retrieval, and reporting of data will be a great fit for OpenSearch. Delivering relevant search results at each keystroke goes a long way in keeping users engaged in the app as more often than not, search is the primary form of navigation.

Geospatial Search

OpenSearch saves location as latitude and longitude and these help personalize search results involving distances. Many retail businesses and aggregators can use this to streamline their online shopping experiences by showing visitors an updated catalog based on their live location.

Business Analytics

OpenSearch comes with built-in visualization in the form of OpenSearch Dashboards. In some cases, there might be a learning curve involved, but with services like offering out-of-the-box search term and click analytics, even non-technical users can perform analytics on OpenSearch data without prior knowledge.


OpenSearch lets you centralize your data making it easy for businesses to scale. Data is grabbed from a variety of inputs regardless of its format or complexity. All this data is parsed and converted into a common format and using visualization tools delivers operational insights.

In this article, we will talk about OpenSearch from the perspective of building an enterprise search, application search or site search experiences. There is a lot that goes into making a completely fleshed out search solution, and we will address how OpenSearch helps one create a complete search solution.

How OpenSearch affects search experience

So, we see that more and more businesses are adapting OpenSearch, but what functionalities are making it a viable option for them to switch:

Search speed

OpenSearch is built on Lucene which excels at performing full-text searches. It also lets you combine data from many types of searches, from structured, unstructured, geo, to metric. The realtime nature of OpenSearch also enables records to be searchable within just a minute of being indexed and thus minimizing latency.

Search relevance

OpenSearch lets you fine-tune setting to help your search to provide the most relevant search results. This way, results that are more likely to keep users engaged rank higher. Though implementing these changes can be a challenge for businesses, with's dashboard, business teams can configure and test their search settings in realtime.

Distributed search

OpenSearch is built for scale. Having a distributed architecture means that replicas of your data and serve as backup copies in case of any hardware failures. This can be a complex tasks for businesses with lots of data, but OpenSearch APIs handle this automatically.


OpenSearch is a great tool for measuring and optimizing performance metrics. Users will be able to filter data basis on not only popular searches but also track click and conversion data and presents this data visually for monitoring. While this requires integrations with different plugins, can offer this functionality right out-of-the box.


OpenSearch comes with well-documented APIs and that has made it possible for developers to customize their implementation. It also has a great ecosystem of UI components that has been instrumental in helping businesses build and go-live faster.

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How does OpenSearch handle your data

Here we will explain some concepts that will give you a better understanding of the OpenSearch backend:


A document is the basic unit of information that is stored and indexed by OpenSearch. This data has many fields including numbers, text strings, dates, etc in the JSON format. Each document has a unique ID and the fields are mapped so that they can be fetched when a search query is made.


An index is a collection of documents that have similar in structure making it like a database. Each index has a unique name which serves as a reference during search, update or delete operations.

Inverted Index

An inverted index stores text in a structure that allows for quick full-text searches. It splits documents into individual search terms and then maps each search term to the relevant documents. This serves as a quick point of reference to find the best matches even in large datasets.


Mapping defines how your data is stored in an index. It's possible to extend the capability of your mapped attributes by adding new fields at any time. Changing existing fields, however, requires re-indexing. OpenSearch defines strings, numbers, geo-point data, etc. as data types which later function as "keywords" for searching, retrieving, and sorting processes.


With OpenSearch, you can create subsets of an Index. These subsets are called Shards. You can consider each shard to be an independent index. This is part of the distributed nature of OpenSearch as your data is replicated across different shards to ensure redundancy. These replicas also protect against hardware failures while increasing the capacity of the server to process searching and retrieving request.


A node is a single server that stores your data and is part of indexing and search functions. Multiple nodes can run on a single physical server, VM, or container. There are three types of nodes whose purpose will become clear once you understand upcoming clusters as well.

Types of Nodes

Master Node - This is responsible for all cluster-wide operations like creating/deleting an index and adding/removing nodes. Client Node - Forwards cluster requests to the master node and data-related requests to data nodes. Data Node - Stores data and executes data-related operations such as search and aggregation.


A cluster is a group of one or more nodes which are connected as part of the OpenSearch processes. Nodes discover each other in a cluster by their shared cluster name. The strength of an OpenSearch cluster lies in the distribution of processes across the nodes in the cluster.

Configuring OpenSearch with

Businesses are using OpenSearch to solve many challenges that they are facing. Having the added flexibility of having on-premises or cloud deployment makes it the perfect fit for teams of all sizes. Running OpenSearch as a self-managed service, however, can be resource intensive for many businesses. Usually, this task is handled by an in-house OpenSearch team which can assess hardware requirements and manage clusters.

This is where having a fully managed service like comes in. We give businesses access to all the components they need so that they can focus on building a fantastic search experience. Teams no longer have to worry about knowing the OpenSearch stack inside-out as they can configure search settings and access search analytics via a point and click dashboard. provides the search stack for building modern apps


You can start with in just 3 steps:

  1. Create your account here
  2. Pick a pricing plan and data center for your Cluster
  3. Create an Index and import data in JSON or .csv. Alternatively, you can import data from an existing OpenSearch index.

There is more that goes into making a unique search experience than the search relevance. With, users can set query rules, hide or promote results, optimize search results, conduct A/B tests, craft UI components, use Role-Based Access Control, create filters, and much, much more.

User Experience: Building an easy-to-use search experience

Accessibility of Search across devices

Deliver a seamless search experience across devices with UI components that scale with device resolutions.

Our awesome features
Search as you type and Auto-Suggestions

Set search functionalities via a point-and-click dashboard. Search across multiple data sources simultaneously (categories, products, etc.).

Our awesome features
Faceted Search to guide users

Easily add different facets to your search and help navigation and create a unique search experience for your users.

Our awesome features

Business Experience: Leveraging search analytics to drive engagement

Actionable Analytics to help optimize

Optimize your search with thanks to a visual analytics dashboard. Capture popular searches, click to conversion ratios, click positions, etc. in realtime.

Our awesome features
Easily set Search Relevancy

Control search relevancy from the dashboard in realtime. Set weights to boost attribute relevance. Add typo-tolerance and synonyms to minimize end-user frustration.

Our awesome features
Extend your search relevance with Query Rules

Set "if-this, then-that" rules via the dashboard to promote a result, hide specific results, change search behavior, add facets and more.

Our awesome features
A/B Testing search strategy

Create A/B Tests quickly and analyze performance by integrating with your preferred analytics tools like Optimizely, Google Optimize, or VWO.

Our awesome features

Developer Experience: Utilizing tools to make it easier to implement and scale

Building new features

Whether you are building web or mobile search, has built industry-leading UI components that help developers go-live 10x faster.

Our awesome features
Access Control for search

Create multiple intent-specific keys and pair with specialized roles to segment users. Strengthen your security by restricting IPs and using HTTP Referers.

Our awesome features
Multi-Language Search supports over 39 languages for your search engine. Configure stop words, stemming exceptions and diacritics settings.

Our awesome features
Flexibility in Deployment

Run as a fully managed service or bring your own OpenSearch. You can even run as a Docker container on your cloud or on your premises.

Our awesome features

Get the best of OpenSearch

Have full control over your OpenSearch cluster. Visualize with OpenSearch Dashboards and choose from any of the addons available in the OpenSearch ecosystem.

Pick your OpenSearch

A fully managed cluster with no compromises. Choose your version, nodes, data center region.

Visualize with Dashboards

Use Kibana to get insights with rich OpenSearch visualizations.


Choose from the popular OpenSearch ecosystem plugins and tools to be deployed alongside your OpenSearch.

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