Today, we’re very happy to be sitting down with another of our Japanese language experts whose help was absolutely invaluable to reach the point that we have in support of the language: Miiton!

Getting to know Miiton

As usual, we wanted to start the interview by getting to know a bit more about Miiton:

“Hello, I'm @miiton, and I live in Japan. While I don't have a specific area of expertise, I've been involved in a variety of fields from networking to application development. Before I got into the kind of development work I'm doing now, I spent a lot of time setting up and configuring server racks. Recently, my work has been centered around developing and maintaining an EC site, primarily for B2B transactions, using React and Go mainly.”

We were impressed with the variety of his background, which prompted us to ask how he got into the field in the first place:

I used to work setting up and configuring server racks, configuring network, server machines, storage, etc. However, with the advent of VMware and the growth of AWS and GCP in the background, I shifted to software engineering while learning programming on my own. I originally liked things like automating deployments with PowerShell, so the transition was smooth.”

Milton also shares that he initially found Meilisearch on GitHub while trying to add an Algolia-like search feature to his support documents.

Is his experience similar to any of our other contributors or users? Do let us know if it’s the case!

A constant work for the improvement of Japanese support

We then asked what, according to him, could be improved about Meilisearch at this point in time:

“Japanese language support and analysis functions. Japanese language support has progressed quickly starting with PR, but it is still not enough to handle Japanese. I am impressed that @ManyTheFish actively listens to me in Discussions and on Twitter. I respect him because he understands Japanese even though he doesn't speak Japanese. The analysis function is an important indicator for us to know what users are looking for and what content we need to provide.”

Indeed, Many, search engine engineer at Meilisearch, has been doing his best work to tame verious languages! The least we can say about it is that it’s far from a walk in the park. If you’re curious and wish to read more on that topic, you can find Many’s interview here.

It is not the first time we heard that Japanese is a particularly tricky language to tackle, and we wondered if Miiton would be able to explain to us why it is the case:

“This is because it is difficult to determine whether a "Kanji-only strings" is Japanese or Chinese. The current implementation of Meilisearch recognizes "Kanji-only strings" as Chinese, so 東京 is normalized to 东京, making it impossible for Japanese users to search for Tokyo. This has been worked around because @ManyTheFish private-release a prototype that forces Japanese, but I hope it will somehow be resolved and incorporated into the main branch.”

We can only imagine how bothersome the current situation is for our Japanese users, which is also why we’re so grateful for contributors such as Miiton or Mosuka for their continued support in improving the language.

Milton then goes on to explain that Meilisearch is the only open-source project to which he contributed in recent years! Naturally, we were intrigued to learn what motivated him to take that first step and start contributing:

“It made me think, "I want to use this." Because I was shocked that I could start it up without thinking, just throw in some JSON, and use it right away.”

We were genuinely curious to hear about his firsthand experience contributing to Meilisearch, especially considering it was his first time contributing to an open-source project in a very long time:

“Contributing to Meilisearch has allowed me to reconsider the multitude of factors involved in implementing a search system. It also gave me the option of using Meilisearch for now. I am convinced that this experience will definitely be useful in my future work. It was also a good opportunity to get in touch with Rust ”

And what a surprise to learn Miiton wasn’t familiar with Rust before contributing to Meilisearch!

A further insight into Miiton’s projects

Finally, we asked Miiton to share more about the projects he’s been using Meilisearch with:

“(I'll refrain from disclosing the specific site, as I can't.) An interesting recent effort is the integration into Shopify. Shopify has a standard & easy-to-use search function, but it only supports up to 1,000 products, and beyond that, you need to consider signing up for a third-party Shopify App. Furthermore, few of these apps are optimized for Japan, and even if they were, they were expensive. Using self-hosted Meilisearch has been a good fit so far. (I'm using the Prototype version with force Japanese language support, so this is not a implementation we can recommend to everyone at this time.) I'm operating a site with roughly 10,000 products on a 2GB memory instance, and I have plenty of resources to spare. I'm also using Prometheus' Metrics (experimental implementation) to create and monitor Grafana screens like this one.”

But that’s not all! As a hobby, Milton also created a public site where he showcases the search experience of Meilisearch in Japanese. You can find the website here, so don’t hesitate to give it a look and lots of love:

And aside from language support, did any feature catch his attention in particular?

“Of course response speed and UI development experience. I like that it is InstantSearch.js compatible because of the good development experience. It was very easy to create the above demo site. I don't have to tell you how fast the response time is.”

We couldn’t be more appreciative of Miiton’s time for this interview, and for all his continued support for the improvement of the Japanese language in Meilisearch.

If like Miiton you’re also fluent in a non-european language and are interested in seeing your language improved in Meilisearch, our Charabia repo is always open to you!