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A 10-minute, step-by-step guide to creating your first instantsearch experience.
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instantsearch workshop

(first held at the Hackference 2016 hackathon in Birmingham, UK)

At the end of the workshop you'll have used instantsearch.js to create a powerful search page for IMDB data. By default, it will look like this, giving the user the abilty to search by title and facet by genre and rating:

Example search


Fork this repository. You can also clone it, but if you fork it then you'll have the hassle-free option to deploy to Github pages.

Clone your fork and open the index.html page in your editor.


Act 1

Open the index.html page in your browser. You should see basic HTML and a search box but no results. We're going to add the code step by step to get results to display and then we'll add more interactivity with facets.

Add this code to the search.js file. This instantiates instantsearch object and configures it with an Algolia appID, apiKey and indexName.

var search = instantsearch({
  appId: 'latency',
  apiKey: '6be0576ff61c053d5f9a3225e2a90f76',
  indexName: 'movies',
  urlSync: {}

The Algolia app and index contains data that was uploaded in advance of the workshop. To upload your own data to Algolia, first get a free account, then check out the import documentation to upload data and configure the index. Then, if you'd like to continue the workshop with your own data, just replace appId, apiKey and indexName with your own values.

Next, add this code after the last line. This registers the input text box as the search box for our application.

    container: '#q'

Next, let's add a widget that will display the results of the search. The #hits element is the container that we'll put our results in.

    container: '#hits',
    hitsPerPage: 10,

Add this at the end of the file and save it.


Refresh your browser pointed to index.html. You should see now results that will change as you type queries. The results will be shown as raw JSON until we template them, so let's template them :)

Act 2

Add these templates above the hits widget declaration:

var hitTemplate =
  '<div class="hit media">' +
    '<div class="media-left">' +
      '<div class="media-object" style="background-image: url(\'{{image}}\');"></div>' +
    '</div>' +
    '<div class="media-body">' +
      '<h4 class="media-heading">{{{_highlightResult.title.value}}} {{#stars}}<span class="ais-star-rating--star{{^.}}__empty{{/.}}"></span>{{/stars}}</h4>' +
      '<p class="year">{{year}}</p><p class="genre">{{#genre}}<span class="badge">{{.}}</span> {{/genre}}</p>' +
    '</div>' +

var noResultsTemplate =
  '<div class="text-center">No results found matching <strong>{{query}}</strong>.</div>';

Next, replace the last instantsearch.widgets.hits declaration with this snippet. Make sure you do not end up with duplicate declarations.

    container: '#hits',
    hitsPerPage: 10,
    templates: {
      empty: noResultsTemplate,
      item: hitTemplate
    transformData: function(hit) {
      hit.stars = [];
      for (var i = 1; i <= 5; ++i) {
        hit.stars.push(i <= hit.rating);
      return hit;

Refresh your index.html page, things should be looking much better now.

Act 3

Now let's add a few more widgets. These can go right before the search.start() call at the end of the file.

First, for pagination.

    container: '#pagination',
    cssClasses: {
      root: 'pagination',
      active: 'active'

Next, to refine by genre.

    container: '#genres',
    attributeName: 'genre',
    operator: 'and',
    limit: 10,
    cssClasses: {
      list: 'nav nav-list',
      count: 'badge pull-right',
      active: 'active'

Next, to use the star rating:

    container: '#ratings',
    attributeName: 'rating',
    cssClasses: {
      list: 'nav',
      count: 'badge pull-right'

Lastly, to add stats, like the performance of the search.

    container: '#stats'

Save the search.js file and reload index.html. Search for a few of your favorite movies. Refine results as you please.

Note: this example uses an Algolia index that has already been created and populated. You can also use it with an index of your own, just remember to change the appId and apiKey above and the templates for displaying information. You will also need to configure faceting for each element field you have added a faceting widget for. You can do this on the Display/Faceting tab of the index inside of your Algolia dashboard.

Host on Github Pages

Just head to the settings for your fork and flip the Github pages source to master branch.

Github settings


Thanks for doing the instantsearch workshop!

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