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Apache Solr is a state of the art, high performance and scalable search server you can use in your (PHP) application to provide a very feature rich search experience. Besides full-text search, it also provides spell checking, highlighting, facets and powerful functions that can put it in the realm of a general information retrieval engine, replacing complex database queries you would (need to) use otherwise.
Use cases range from e-commerce, real-estate database search, intranets/extranets, content management systems, document management systems and anything that offers exploration of structured and/or unstructured information. The recent addition of geo-aware features makes even location searches possible.