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Funnelback Pty Ltd
Private subsidiary
FoundedCanberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia (December 20, 2005; 12 years ago (2005-12-20))
HeadquartersCanberra, Australia
Area served
Key people
Dr. David Hawking
Brett Matson
ProductsSite Search

Enterprise Search
Funnelback for Higher Education
Funnelback for Finance
Accessibility Auditor

Content Auditor
Number of employees
SubsidiariesUnited States, United Kingdom
Funnelback Platform
Original author(s)Dr. David Hawking
Developer(s)Funnelback R&D Team
Initial release10 August 2006; 12 years ago (2006-08-10)
Stable release
15.16.0 / August 7, 2018; 3 months ago (2018-08-07)
Written inC, Java, Groovy, FreeMarker, Perl
Operating systemLinux, Windows
TypeSearch and index

Funnelback is a search engine platform. Funnelback is typically deployed as a vertical search (site search) or enterprise search solution, and has been cited as suitable for search-based applications.[1] It features a broad array of plug-ins and APIs, and is platform-agnostic.

Funnelback's headquarters and research and development is based in Canberra, with additional offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, London, Seattle, 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.
  • 2017
    • Named Visionary by leading analyst.[9]


Higher Education[edit]

Born as a university project, Funnelback boasts higher education clients from Oxford University to the University of Sydney and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.[10]


Funnelback has built government search services[11] for clients including: Australian Government,[12] Bolton Council (UK), Queensland Government (Australia), New South Wales Government (Australia)[13] and a joint project for three councils in West London (UK).

Media and Publishing[edit]

Through its work with some of the world’s largest publishers, Elsevier, Oxford University Press, Funnelback understands the delicate balancing act of showcasing news, events and products and empowering users to navigate an ocean of information and helps them find exactly what they are looking for quickly.[14]

Not for profit[edit]

Funnelback provides a search platform for Macmillan Cancer Support (UK), Scope (charity) (UK) and Lifeline (crisis support service) (Australia) among others, connecting visitors to the information and vital support offered by the organisations ensuring that those in need find the help they seek.[15]


Funnelback also works with clients from the legal industry, such as Irwin Mitchell (UK) and Herbert Smith Freehills.[16]


Funnelback works with Legal & General, the Australian Securities Exchange, Westpac and many other financial services companies around the world.[17]


Major Funnelback product releases occur about every two years.[18] Versions of Funnelback prior to 6.0 are regarded as P@noptic releases.

The last major Funnelback release, Version 15, was launched in early 2016.


The core of the system is based around the proprietary Parallel Document Retrieval Engine (PADRE)[19] 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[20] algorithm to rank document content and metadata. The company has also been granted patents for annotation index methods[21] (used for generating search result snippets) and search result sub-topic identification[22] (used in Funnelback's Contextual Navigation[23] system).

It has the ability to search a range of formats in addition to HTML files. These include PDF, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, images, and XML. It also has the ability to connect to, and index databases,[24] LDAP directories,[25] CIFS fileshares[26] and various social media platforms (Twitter,[27] YouTube,[28] Facebook[29]). Adapters currently exist for HPE Content Manager (Formerly TRIM),[30] and the design of the system allows users to create their own connectors should they not exist. A plugin for the ManifoldCF open source connector platforms is provided to connect to additional repositories. A REST API also allows third-party system to push content into Funnelback.[31]

When used on-site and not hosted, Funnelback is designed for operation on Windows and Linux platforms.[32] Support for Solaris has been discontinued.[33]

Several open-source software packages are bundled with Funnelback,[34] including the Tika and Mahout projects from the Apache Software Foundation, used for filtering and recommendations, respectively.

Languages Used[edit]

Funnelback's codebase uses several programming languages:

Industry Analysts' Reception[edit]

In March 2017, Funnelback was listed as a 'visionary' vendor on Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines.[43] Funnelback first appeared as a ‘niche’ vendor on Gartner’s Enterprise Search Magic Quadrant in 2015 [44] as Squiz. In 2014, Gartner's Enterprise Search Magic Quadrant mentions Funnelback in passing,[45] 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".[46]

451 Research Group noted the company's 30% revenue growth in 2010, especially in the UK.[47]

P@noptic (Historical) Awards[edit]

  • 2003 - Search Engine - Editor's Choice (Network Computing)[48]
  • 2004 - iAwards (AIIA): Innovation: eBusiness & Internet[49]


Funnelback is currently provided as a Windows or Linux Installer or as a hosted service. These are sold 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, and supplied via CD-ROM or accessible via the Funnelback website.

In 2010, a now-deprecated OEM version of Funnelback, branded as SquizSearch,[50] 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". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  10. ^ Funnelback (2016-01-19). "Higher Ed". Funnelback. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  11. ^ Funnelback (2016-01-19). "Government". Funnelback. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  12. ^ Tim Lohman. "AGIMO signs Funnelback for Govt search". PC Advisor.
  13. ^ Hamish Barwick. "NSW Government dumps Google appliance for Funnelback". Computerworld.
  14. ^ "Media&Publishing". Funnelback. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  15. ^ "Not-for-Profit". Funnelback. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  16. ^ "Legal". Funnelback. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  17. ^ Funnelback (2017-08-30). "Finance". Funnelback. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  18. ^ Funnelback. "Release notes".
  19. ^ Hawking, David (1994). "PADRE - a parallel document retrieval engine". Proceedings of the Third Fujitsu Parallel Computing Workshop, Kawasaki, Japan.
  20. ^ Funnelback. "Funnelback Ranking Algorithms".
  21. ^ Hawking, David. "Annotation Index System and Method". Lens. USPTO. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  22. ^ Matson, Brett. "Search Result Sub-topic Identification System And Method". Lens. USPTO. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  23. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Contextual Navigation - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  24. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Database collections - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  25. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Directory collections - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  26. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Filecopy collections - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  27. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Twitter - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  28. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "YouTube - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  29. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Facebook - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  30. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Trimpush (HP TRIM/Records manager) collections - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  31. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Push collections - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  32. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Supported Platforms - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  33. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Historical Release Notes - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  34. ^ Ltd, Funnelback Pty. "Third Party Licences - Funnelback Documentation - Version 15.10.0". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Funnelback. "User interface hook scripts - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  38. ^
  39. ^ Funnelback. "Filter.classes (collection.cfg) - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  40. ^ Funnelback. "Database collections - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  41. ^ Funnelback. "FreeMarker - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  42. ^ Funnelback. "Command line administration - Funnelback Documentation". Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  43. ^ Andrews, Whit; De Simoni, Guido; Murphy, Jim; Emmott, Stephen (2017). "Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines". Gartner.
  44. ^ Andrews, Whit; Koehler-Kruener, Hanns (2015). "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search". Gartner.
  45. ^ White, Martin (2014). "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search". Gartner.
  46. ^ "Ovum". Gartner.
  47. ^ "Funnelback sees promise in enterprise search space that others have abandoned". 451 Research Group. 451 Research Group.
  48. ^ Doherty, Sean. "Panning for Gold - Search Engines - Editor's Choice Award" (PDF). Network Computing. Network Computing. Retrieved 18 September 2003.
  49. ^ "iAwards - 2004 Winners". iAwards. Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
  50. ^ "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