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Funnelback Pty Ltd
Private subsidiary
Industry Software
Founded Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia (December 20, 2005; 11 years ago (2005-12-20))
Headquarters Canberra, Australia
Area served
Key people
Dr. David Hawking
Brett Matson

Funnelback Hosted
Funnelback Server for Web
Funnelback Server for Enterprise

Funnelback Platform
Number of employees
Parent Squiz
Subsidiaries United States, United Kingdom
Funnelback Platform
Original author(s) Dr. David Hawking
Developer(s) Funnelback R&D Team
Initial release 10 August 2006; 10 years ago (2006-08-10)
Stable release
15.10.0 / April 12, 2017; 31 days ago (2017-04-12)
Development status Active
Written in C, Java, Groovy, FreeMarker, Perl
Operating system Linux, Windows
Type Search and index
License Proprietary

Funnelback is both a search engine software product and the name of the company selling the technology. Funnelback software is typically deployed as a vertical search or enterprise search solution, and has been cited as suitable for search-based applications.[1]

Funnelback's headquarters and research and development is based in Canberra, with additional offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, London, Seattle, New York City, Wellington, Edinburgh and Szczecin.

The company's name is a portmanteau of two Australian spiders - the Funnel-web and Redback.


  • 2001
    • CSIRO sponsors P@noptic[2] research project, design and development headed by Dr. David Hawking[3]
    • First version of P@noptic released
  • 2005
    • December: Funnelback spun off from CSIRO ICT Centre [4] as Funnelback Pty. Ltd[5]
  • 2006
    • April: P@noptic product renamed Funnelback
    • October: Funnelback version 6.0 released
  • 2009
    • July: Funnelback acquired by Squiz[6]
    • August: Operations commence in United Kingdom as Funnelback UK Ltd.[7]
  • 2012
    • February: Approved supplier to UK Government via G-Cloud[8]
  • 2015
    • Operations commence in United States as Funnelback Inc.



Funnelback has been responsible for providing several whole-of-government search services including:  Australian Government,[9] Queensland Government (Australia), Australian Capital Territory Government (Australia), and portal search services for New South Wales Government (Australia) [10] and Tasmanian Government (Australia).


Major Funnelback product releases occur annually,[11] and are generally aligned with year numbers. Versions of Funnelback prior to 6.0 are regarded as P@noptic releases.

Funnelback Version 15 was released in early 2016.


The core of the system is based around the proprietary Parallel Document Retrieval Engine (PADRE)[12] developed by the Australian National University and CSIRO to perform very fast data look-ups. Its relevancy ranking system uses a variant of the Okapi BM25[13] algorithm to rank document content and metadata. The company has also been granted patents for annotation index methods[14] (used for generating search result snippets) and search result sub-topic identification[15] (used in Funnelback's Contextual Navigation[16] system).

It has the ability to search a range of formats in addition to range of HTML files. These include PDF, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, images, and XML. It also has the ability to connect to, and index databases. Adapters currently exist for MySQL and TRIM Context, and the design of the system allows users to create their own connectors should they not exist.

Funnelback Server software is designed for operation on Windows and Linux platforms.[17] Support for Solaris has been discontinued.[18]

Several open-source software packages are bundled with Funnelback,[19] including the Tika and Mahout projects from the Apache Software Foundation, used for filtering, recommendations and enterprise repository connectors, respectively.

Languages Used[edit]

Funnelback's codebase uses several programming languages:


(as P@noptic)

  • 2003 - Search Engine - Editor's Choice (Network Computing)[28]
  • 2004 - iAwards (AIIA): Innovation: eBusiness & Internet[29]

Industry Analysts' Reception[edit]

In March 2017, Funnelback was listed as a 'visionary' vendor on Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines.[30] Funnelback first appeared as a ‘niche’ vendor on Gartner’s Enterprise Search Magic Quadrant in 2015 [31] as Squiz. In 2014, Gartner's Enterprise Search Magic Quadrant mentions Funnelback in passing,[32] but did not place it on the quadrant.

Ovum Ltd. summarised the product as being able to "deliver highly relevant, context-aware results, based on a user's location, interests, profile, or browsing history, to create a truly personalised experience".[33]

451 Research Group noted the company's 30% revenue growth in 2010, primarily in the UK.[34]


Funnelback software is currently provided as a Windows or Linux Installer software for installed customers or as a hosted service to subscribing customers, either through direct sales channels or Funnelback partners.

Previous Versions[edit]

Versions of Funnelback released prior to 2007 were available as 30-day trials, limited to 50,000 document indexes, supplied via CD-ROM or accessible via the Funnelback website. Trial versions are no longer available.

In 2010, a now-deprecated OEM version of Funnelback, branded as SquizSearch,[35] was bundled with Squiz's MySource Matrix product.


  1. ^ Grefenstette, Gregory; Wilber, Laura (2010). "Search-Based Applications: At the Confluence of Search and Database Technologies". Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services. 2 (1). doi:10.2200/S00320ED1V01Y201012ICR017. 
  2. ^ "P@NOPTIC Intranet Search". Archived from the original on 24 January 2001. 
  3. ^ Stephen E Arnold. "Search Wizards Speak: David Hawking of Funnelback :: ArnoldIT". 
  4. ^ Computerworld Staff. "CSIRO spins off home-grown search engine". Computerworld. 
  5. ^ "Current details for ABN 34 116 105 296". 
  6. ^ Rodney Gedda. "CSIRO sells Funnelback search engine". TechWorld. 
  7. ^ "Companies House - Funnelback UK Limited". 
  8. ^ "Funnelback Approved as a Supplier for the G-Cloud; The New Framework of Cloud Service Providers for the UK Government". 
  9. ^ Tim Lohman. "AGIMO signs Funnelback for Govt search". PC Advisor. 
  10. ^ Hamish Barwick. "NSW Government dumps Google appliance for Funnelback". Computerworld. 
  11. ^ Funnelback. "Release notes". 
  12. ^ Hawking, David (1994). "PADRE - a parallel document retrieval engine.". Proceedings of the Third Fujitsu Parallel Computing Workshop, Kawasaki, Japan. 
  13. ^ Funnelback. "Funnelback Ranking Algorithms". 
  14. ^ Hawking, David. "Annotation Index System and Method". Lens. USPTO. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  15. ^ Matson, Brett. "Search Result Sub-topic Identification System And Method". Lens. USPTO. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Funnelback. "Supported platforms". 
  18. ^ Funnelback. "Historical Release Notes". 
  19. ^ Funnelback. "Third party licences". 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Funnelback. "User interface hook scripts - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Funnelback. "Filter.classes (collection.cfg) - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  25. ^ Funnelback. "Database collections - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  26. ^ Funnelback. "FreeMarker - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  27. ^ Funnelback. "Command line administration - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  28. ^ Doherty, Sean. "Panning for Gold - Search Engines - Editor's Choice Award" (PDF). Network Computing. Network Computing. Retrieved 18 September 2003. 
  29. ^ "iAwards - 2004 Winners". iAwards. Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). 
  30. ^ Andrews, Whit; De Simoni, Guido; Murphy, Jim; Emmott, Stephen (2017). "Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines". Gartner. 
  31. ^ Andrews, Whit; Koehler-Kruener, Hanns (2015). "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search". Gartner. 
  32. ^ White, Martin (2014). "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search". Gartner. 
  33. ^ "Ovum". Gartner. 
  34. ^ "Funnelback sees promise in enterprise search space that others have abandoned". 451 Research Group. 451 Research Group. 
  35. ^ "MySource Matrix Newsletter Issue #298". Squiz Labs. Squiz. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°17′2.868″S 149°7′58.116″E / 35.28413000°S 149.13281000°E / -35.28413000; 149.13281000