Help for Managing Your Watson Bluemix Retrieve and Rank Instance

Every once in a while I see something that has the potential to save people time and aggravation.  When I see these things, I like to blog about them to help other members of the Watson cognitive community.  Yesterday I saw one of those things.

OK – I actually saw it a couple of weeks ago, while it was being tested, but it just became available to the public yesterday on the Cognitive Catalyst.  This is a sub-project for Watson under the larger IBM Open project.  If you navigate to the bottom of the IBM Open project page, you will see a variety of different resources available to developers using Watson – from a variety of different SDK’s, to the Cognitive Catalyst project.

For those of you who are not aware, the Cognitive Catalyst site has a bunch of “open source” tools and utilities that developers can use to help them in the management of their Watson services deployed on Bluemix.  All of the code for the Cognitive Catalyst projects is available via a Cognitive Catalyst GitHub project, and we encourage anyone to contribute to the projects, or to submit projects of their own.  There are some really good tools and utilities out there already.

The latest addition to these tools is the ignite-electron tool.  The author of this tool, Andrew Ayres, is a frequent contributor to the Cognitive catalyst site.  The ignite-electron tooling provides a UI which simplifies the creation and management of Retrieve & Rank (R&R) components (solr clusters/configurations/collections and rankers) while also providing an easy to use interface for the creation of ground truth.  This ability eliminates the need of using a bunch of curl commands (which you probably have in a text file and cut/paste into terminal windows), and provides a visualization of the service to reduce confusion.  The tool will eliminate the inevitable errors that can occur from copying/pasting cluster/ranker/document IDs.

That alone would be pretty valuable, but the tool will also help reduce the amount of time required for a subject matter expert (SME) to create ground truth.  Currently an SME would need to repeatedly go through the process making a curl command to query a collection, adding the question to a csv, copying document IDs to the csv, and adding relevance scores.  With the ignite-electron tool the SME can provide a list of questions, and the tool will step through those questions allowing the SME to simply assign relevance scores.  All of the POST requests, and creation of the CSV file, are handled automatically by the tool.

This is one of those simple utilities and tools that should be in the toolset of any developer or subject matter expert that uses the IBM Watson Retrieve & Rank capability.  It will make the management, maintenance, and training of your R&R instance a lot easier.