Loading Wikipedia's Search Index For Testing

A while back I published a blog post testing query speeds with data from English Wikipedia and mentioned that the loading process deserved its own blog post. Well here it is! These instructions have been tested against the version 6.3.1 of the Elastic Stack.

Step 0: Why

This gets you a copy of the search index used to power on the site search tool for Wikipedia. The index is quite large because it's used to support all the funky things that Elasticsearch is used for there. It may have mistakes, old data, strange leftovers from previous versions of the indexing code that have yet to be cleaned up. In short: it's imperfect, just like any real production deploy.

Step 1: Download a smaller wiki

The Wikimedia Foundation makes everything about Wikipedia and the other wikis it powers public. Well, everything that is safe to make public anyway. That includes a dump of the search index. Head here and you'll get a list of dates when the dump runs began. Click on the latest date and download the file that looks like enwikiquote-$date-cirrussearch-content.json.gz. The naming scheme is $wiki-$date-cirrussearch-$indexType.json.gz where:

  • $wiki is usually made of two parts: $langCode$project
    • $langCode is the language - mostly ISO 639-1 codes. I use English because it is nice and large and I can read it.
    • $project is the kind of wiki:
      • wiki is Wikipedia, an encyclopedia
      • wiktionary is Wikitionary, a dictionary
      • wikisource is Wikisource, a library of free content
      • wikivoyage is Wikivoyage, a collaborative travel guide
      • wikibooks is Wikibooks, a repository of open content text books
      • wikiquote is Wikiquote, a collection of quotations
      • wikiversity is Wikiversity, an open learning community
      • wikinews is Wikinews, a collaborative news site
    • There are some special wiki codes like commonwiki which is for Wikimedia Commons, a repository of free multimedia stuff.
  • $indexType is the type of search index. Normally it's either content, pages someone reading the wiki usually wants to search, and general, pages that are useful for building the wiki like templates discussions, and scripts. Wikimedia Commons, being a multimedia repository, has it a file $indexType that contains data about the files like description. Sometimes it contains text that can be extracted from the files, like this issue of Scientific American. Some of these extracts are fairly large like this biography.

By now you've figured out that I didn't have you download English Wikipedia's search index. I had you fetch English Wikiquote. You can follow my instructions below to load English Wikiquote and then start over to load any other wiki you'd like from the dumps page. If one particular wiki caught your eye, go and start downloading it now while you follow along to the end of the blog post using English Wikiquote. If all goes well it'll be ready by the time you want it.

Step 2: Get the index ready

While the dump downloads you can setup Elasticsearch to handle it the index. You'll need the analysis-icu plugin, and a plugin that wikimedia uses for similarity. You can do that by this into your bash shell:

bin/elasticsearch-plugin install analysis-icu

bin/elasticsearch-plugin install org.wikimedia.search:extra:

You'll have to restart Elasticsearch after installing that for it to take.

Then you'll need jq for some of the json-foo you'll do next. For me it's just sudo apt-get install jq but your command may vary.

Finally you can create you index with these bash shell commands:

export es=localhost:9200
export site=en.wikipedia.org
export index=enwikiquote
curl -XDELETE $es/$index?pretty
curl -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -s 'https://'$site'/w/api.php?action=cirrus-settings-dump&format=json&formatversion=2' |
jq '{
settings: {
index: {
analysis: .content.page.index.analysis,
similarity: .content.page.index.similarity
}' |
curl -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -XPUT $es/$index?pretty -d @-
curl -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -s 'https://'$site'/w/api.php?action=cirrus-mapping-dump&format=json&formatversion=2' |
jq .content |
sed 's/"index_analyzer"/"analyzer"/' |
sed 's/"position_offset_gap"/"position_increment_gap"/' |
curl -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -XPUT $es/$index/_mapping/page?pretty -d @-

Let me walk you through that:

  • export es=localhost:9200 sets up $es to be Elasticsearch's address. I do that so I don't have to type localhost:9200 over and over again. And it'll make copying and pasting my text easier if your Elasticsearch doesn't listen on 9200. Win/win.
  • export site=en.wikipedia.org sets up $site to be the hostname of the MediaWiki instance that you want to use. For English Wikipedia you'd use en.wikipedia.org. For German Wikipedia you'd use de.wikipedia.org. For Wikimedia Commons, you'd use commons.wikimedia.org.
  • export index=enwikiquote just sets $index to the name of the index you'll be loading. I usually use the same name as the wiki.
  • curl -XDELETE $es/$index?pretty deletes the index if it already exists. It fails if the index doesn't exist but we don't care. You'll see this at the start of most curl issue reproductions filed with Elasticsearch because it ensures a clean slate.
  • The next sequence of pipes fetches the settings that en.wikiquote.org uses for its index and uses them as a template to create a new index in our test cluster. 
  • The last sequence of pipes fetches that mapping for the content index, upgrades it from 2.x style to 6.x style, and creates a page type with that mapping in our test index.

Clear as mud? Ok.

Step 3: Prepare the wiki for loading

Crack open the file with zless and have a look at it. Don't worry, you can do that before it finishes downloading. Its contents are conveniently in the format that Elasticsearch uses for bulk loading. Hurray! We'll unzip and cut this file into smaller chunks so it'll work properly with curl and the _bulk API. It'll also you a way to pause and resume the process. After it has finished downloading you can do that with these bash shell commands:

export dump=enwikiquote-20160201-cirrussearch-content.json.gz
export index=enwikiquote
mkdir chunks
cd chunks
zcat ../$dump | split -a 10 -l 500 - $index
  • The first export line just names the file that you downloaded. Change it to whatever file you fetched. The second export line is the same as one used in the previous section.
  • The mkdir and cd lines make a directory to hold the files we're going to make.
  • The last line cuts the file into 500 line chunks. 250 of those lines are metadata lines for the _bulk api. 250 lines are the actual documents.
  • If zcat doesn't work on your system, `gunzip -c` is a drop in replacement.

For English Wikiquote that should finish in a few seconds. English Wikipedia takes longer than a coffee break.

Step 4: Load the wiki

The last step is to load the actual data with these bash commands:

export es=localhost:9200
export index=enwikiquote
cd chunks
for file in *; do
echo -n "${file}: "
took=$(curl -s -H 'Content-Type: application/x-ndjson' -XPOST $es/$index/_bulk?pretty --data-binary @$file |
grep took | cut -d':' -f 2 | cut -d',' -f 1)
printf '%7s\n' $took
[ "x$took" = "x" ] || rm $file

The first three lines should be familiar from above. The loop loads each file and deletes it after it's loaded. If the file fails to load it isn't deleted and the loop moves on to the next file.

I find setting the refresh_interval to -1 will speed this process up some. You can apply it by running this in a different terminal:

curl -XPUT "$es/$index/_settings?pretty" -d '{
"index" : {
"refresh_interval" : -1

You can monitor the progress with:

date; curl $es/$index/_refresh?pretty; curl $es/$index/_count?pretty

The _refresh makes the current process visible regardless of the refresh_interval. The _count just counts how many documents you've loaded.

Loading English Wikiquote is an excellent opportunity to have a coffee break. Loading English Wikipedia takes all night. When it is all done you should flush the index with curl $es/$index/_flush to make sure that the next time you restart Elasticsearch it doesn't have a large translog to replay.

Step 5: Now do it with a bigger wiki

Now that you've loaded a smaller wiki you can just repeate the process with other export statements to load a larger wiki. While loading English Wikiquote took something like 20 minutes total you'll find loading English Wikipedia to be an overnight job.

Regarding space: I find that gzip gives English Wikipedia about a 1:6 compession ratio and when the Elasticsearch index is comlete it's only slightly bigger. Since the load process removes that files after they are loaded into Elasticsearch it should be safe if you budget 10 time the file size for this process. When I last loaded English Wikipedia the Elasticsearch index ended up being 7 times the size of the gzip and I kept the gzip on disk in case I wanted to load it again. Its small enough not to be a big deal on a spinning disk but large enough to be a pain on an SSD.

Step 6: Now what?

After you've loaded the index you can do whatever you want with it: presumably you'll want to test some queries or something. You can do that now. You'll notice a huge performance boost if you _optimize?max_num_segments=1 but that is cheating to some degree because it causes trouble if you ever modify the index. For testing maybe it's fine but it doesn't simulate a system that is constantly being updated.