Meet Semantra: An Open-Source Multi-Tool For Semantically Searching Documents

Semantic search is to understand the intent behind a query and represent the knowledge gained from it in a meaningful way for information retrieval. Recently, a new tool named Semantra has been released, which is an open-source multi-tool for semantic search. Developed by Dylan Freedman, Semantra allows users to search by using concepts or meanings, followed by refining results via tagging and adding or subtracting queries. It is a local search engine enabling users to keep their data safe and secure.

Semantra helps in semantic search by studying words’ meanings and their symbolic use, including multiple meanings. The tool is primarily useful for journalists, researchers, students, and anyone looking for specific information within a large amount of content, such as books, reports, speeches, and government documents. It helps users find the information they need quickly and effortlessly.

Semantra’s main feature is its ability to launch a local search engine over text and PDF files. Users can simply install Semantra by first installing Python in the system, followed by installing Semantra with the help of the pipx command. Once pipx is installed on the system, a new terminal window is opened for the changes to become visible. Once a new terminal window is launched, Semantra can be installed globally via: pipx install semantra. Semantra downloads the required embedding models and analyzes the documents in chunks, launching a local web app for interactive analysis.

Another useful feature of Semantra is its ability to cache processed documents by content. This means that Semantra only needs to do the initial processing work once, making subsequent searches much faster. An example of using Semantra has been shared on GitHub. The goal is to demonstrate how Semantra can be used to search through a collection of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Hamlet, to find specific themes or concepts.

Semantra’s interface is divided into four main sections:

  1. Search bar: It is the top of the website where a long search bar runs across. This is where the main search takes place.
  2. Results pane: It is the left sidebar where search results show up.
  3. Tab bar: It shows all the files and highlights, showing which one is currently loaded in the content window.
  4. Content window: It displays a browseable document

Consequently, Semantra is a powerful and flexible tool that can help users find information easily. Its open-source nature means that it is constantly being improved and updated, and its user-friendly interface and detailed documentation make it easy to use, even for those with little programming experience.

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Tanya Malhotra is a final year undergrad from the University of Petroleum Energy Studies, Dehradun, pursuing BTech in Computer Science Engineering with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
She is a Data Science enthusiast with good analytical and critical thinking, along with an ardent interest in acquiring new skills, leading groups, and managing work in an organized manner.