Create a Knowledge Store with Azure AI Search
Azure AI Search uses an enrichment pipeline of AI skills to extract AI-generated fields from documents and include them in a search index. While the index might be considered the primary output from an indexing process, the enriched data it contains might also be useful in other ways. For example:
- Since the index is essentially a collection of JSON objects, each representing an indexed record, it might be useful to export the objects as JSON files for integration into a data orchestration process using tools such as Azure Data Factory.
- You may want to normalize the index records into a relational schema of tables for analysis and reporting with tools such as Microsoft Power BI.
- Having extracted embedded images from documents during the indexing process, you might want to save those images as files.
In this exercise, you’ll implement a knowledge store for Margie’s Travel, a fictitious travel agency that uses information in brochures and hotel reviews to help customers plan trips.
Clone the repository for this course
If you have already cloned AI-102-AIEngineer code repository to the environment where you’re working on this lab, open it in Visual Studio Code; otherwise, follow these steps to clone it now.
- Start Visual Studio Code.
- Open the palette (SHIFT+CTRL+P) and run a Git: Clone command to clone the
https://github.com/MicrosoftLearning/AI-102-AIEngineerrepository to a local folder (it doesn’t matter which folder).
- When the repository has been cloned, open the folder in Visual Studio Code.
Wait while additional files are installed to support the C# code projects in the repo.
Note: If you are prompted to add required assets to build and debug, select Not Now.
Create Azure resources
Note: If you have previously completed the Create an Azure AI Search solution exercise, and still have these Azure resources in your subscription, you can skip this section and start at the Create a search solution section. Otherwise, follow the steps below to provision the required Azure resources.
- In a web browser, open the Azure portal at
https://portal.azure.com, and sign in using the Microsoft account associated with your Azure subscription.
- View the Resource groups in your subscription.
- If you are using a restricted subscription in which a resource group has been provided for you, select the resource group to view its properties. Otherwise, create a new resource group with a name of your choice, and go to it when it has been created.
- On the Overview page for your resource group, note the Subscription ID and Location. You will need these values, along with the name of the resource group in subsequent steps.
- In Visual Studio Code, expand the 24-knowledge-store folder and select setup.cmd. You will use this batch script to run the Azure command line interface (CLI) commands required to create the Azure resources you need.
- Right-click the the 24-knowledge-store folder and select Open in Integrated Terminal.
In the terminal pane, enter the following command to establish an authenticated connection to your Azure subscription.
az login --output none
- When prompted, sign into your Azure subscription. Then return to Visual Studio Code and wait for the sign-in process to complete.
Run the following command to list Azure locations.
az account list-locations -o table
- In the output, find the Name value that corresponds with the location of your resource group (for example, for East US the corresponding name is eastus).
- In the setup.cmd script, modify the subscription_id, resource_group, and location variable declarations with the appropriate values for your subscription ID, resource group name, and location name. Then save your changes.
In the terminal for the 24-knowledge-store folder, enter the following command to run the script:
Note: The Search CLI module is in preview, and may get stuck in the - Running .. process. If this happens for over 2 minutes, press CTRL+C to cancel the long-running operation, and then select N when asked if you want to terminate the script. It should then complete successfully.
If the script fails, ensure you saved it with the correct variable names and try again.
- When the script completes, review the output it displays and note the following information about your Azure resources (you will need these values later):
- Storage account name
- Storage connection string
- Azure AI Services account
- Azure AI Services key
- Search service endpoint
- Search service admin key
- Search service query key
- In the Azure portal, refresh the resource group and verify that it contains the Azure Storage account, Azure AI Services resource, and Azure AI Search resource.
Create a search solution
Now that you have the necessary Azure resources, you can create a search solution that consists of the following components:
- A data source that references the documents in your Azure storage container.
- A skillset that defines an enrichment pipeline of skills to extract AI-generated fields from the documents. The skillset also defines the projections that will be generated in your knowledge store.
- An index that defines a searchable set of document records.
- An indexer that extracts the documents from the data source, applies the skillset, and populates the index. The process of indexing also persists the projections defined in the skillset in the knowledge store.
In this exercise, you’ll use the Azure AI Search REST interface to create these components by submitting JSON requests.
Prepare JSON for REST operations
You’ll use the REST interface to submit JSON definitions for your Azure AI Search components.
- In Visual Studio Code, in the 24-knowledge-store folder, expand the create-search folder and select data_source.json. This file contains a JSON definition for a data source named margies-knowledge-data.
Replace the YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING placeholder with the connection string for your Azure storage account, which should resemble the following:
You can find the connection string on the Access keys page for your storage account in the Azure portal.
- Save and close the updated JSON file.
- In the create-search folder, open skillset.json. This file contains a JSON definition for a skillset named margies-knowledge-skillset.
At the top of the skillset definition, in the cognitiveServices element, replace the YOUR_COGNITIVE_SERVICES_KEY placeholder with either of the keys for your Azure AI Services resources.
You can find the keys on the Keys and Endpoint page for your Azure AI Services resource in the Azure portal.
- At the end of the collection of skills in your skillset, find the Microsoft.Skills.Util.ShaperSkill skill named define-projection. This skill defines a JSON structure for the enriched data that will be used for the projections that the pipeline will persist on the knowledge store for each document processed by the indexer.
- At the bottom of the skillset file, observe that the skillset also includes a knowledgeStore definition, which includes a connection string for the Azure Storage account where the knowledge store is to be created, and a collection of projections. This skillset includes three projection groups:
- A group containing an object projection based on the knowledge_projection output of the shaper skill in the skillset.
- A group containing a file projection based on the normalized_images collection of image data extracted from the documents.
- A group containing the following table projections:
- KeyPhrases: Contains an automatically generated key column and a keyPhrase column mapped to the knowledge_projection/key_phrases/ collection output of the shaper skill.
- Locations: Contains an automatically generated key column and a location column mapped to the knowledge_projection/key_phrases/ collection output of the shaper skill.
- ImageTags: Contains an automatically generated key column and a tag column mapped to the knowledge_projection/image_tags/ collection output of the shaper skill.
- Docs: Contains an automatically generated key column and all of the knowledge_projection output values from the shaper skill that are not already assigned to a table.
- Replace the YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING placeholder for the storageConnectionString value with the connection string for your storage account.
- Save and close the updated JSON file.
- In the create-search folder, open index.json. This file contains a JSON definition for an index named margies-knowledge-index.
- Review the JSON for the index, then close the file without making any changes.
- In the create-search folder, open indexer.json. This file contains a JSON definition for an indexer named margies-knowledge-indexer.
- Review the JSON for the indexer, then close the file without making any changes.
Submit REST requests
Now that you’ve prepared the JSON objects that define your search solution components, you can submit the JSON documents to the REST interface to create them.
- In the create-search folder, open create-search.cmd. This batch script uses the cURL utility to submit the JSON definitions to the REST interface for your Azure AI Search resource.
Replace the YOUR_SEARCH_URL and YOUR_ADMIN_KEY variable placeholders with the Url and one of the admin keys for your Azure AI Search resource.
You can find these values on the Overview and Keys pages for your Azure AI Search resource in the Azure portal.
- Save the updated batch file.
- Right-click the the create-search folder and select Open in Integrated Terminal.
In the terminal pane for the create-search folder, enter the following command run the batch script.
When the script completes, in the Azure portal, on the page for your Azure AI Search resource, select the Indexers page and wait for the indexing process to complete.
You can select Refresh to track the progress of the indexing operation. It may take a minute or so to complete.
Tip: If the script fails, check the placeholders you added in the data_source.json and skillset.json files as well as the create-search.cmd file. After correcting any mistakes, you may need to use the Azure portal user interface to delete any components that were created in your search resource before re-running the script.
View the knowledge store
After you have run an indexer that uses a skillset to create a knowledge store, the enriched data extracted by the indexing process is persisted in the knowledge store projections.
View object projections
The object projections defined in the Margie’s Travel skillset consist of a JSON file for each indexed document. These files are stored in a blob container in the Azure Storage account specified in the skillset definition.
- In the Azure portal, view the Azure Storage account you created previously.
- Select the Storage browser tab (in the pane on the left) to view the storage account in the storage explorer interface in the Azure portal.
- Expand Blob containers to view the containers in the storage account. In addition to the margies container where the source data is stored, there should be two new containers: margies-images and margies-knowledge. These were created by the indexing process.
- Select the margies-knowledge container. It should contain a folder for each indexed document.
- Open any of the folders, and then download and open the knowledge-projection.json file it contains. Each JSON file contains a representation of an indexed document, including the enriched data extracted by the skillset as shown here.
"file_name":"Margies Travel Company Info.pdf",
"best travel experts",
"world-leading travel agency",
The ability to create object projections like this enables you to generate enriched data objects that can be incorporated into an enterprise data analysis solution - for example by ingesting the JSON files into an Azure Data Factory pipeline for further processing or loading into a data warehouse.
View file projections
The file projections defined in the skillset create JPEG files for each image that was extracted from the documents during the indexing process.
- In the storage explorer interface in the Azure portal, select the margies-images blob container. This container contains a folder for each document that contained images.
- Open any of the folders and view its contents - each folder contains at least one *.jpg file.
- Open any of the image files to verify that they contain images extracted from the documents.
The ability to generate file projections like this makes indexing an efficient way to extract embedded images from a large volume of documents.
View table projections
The table projections defined in the skillset form a relational schema of enriched data.
- In the storage explorer interface in the Azure portal, expand Tables.
- Select the docs table to view its columns. The columns include some standard Azure Storage table columns - to hide these, modify the Column Options to select only the following columns:
- document_id (the key column automatically generated by the indexing process)
- file_id (the encoded file URL)
- file_name (the file name extracted from the document metadata)
- language (the language in which the document is written)
- sentiment the sentiment score calculated for the document.
- url the URL for the document blob in Azure storage.
- View the other tables that were created by the indexing process:
- ImageTags (contains a row for each individual image tag with the document_id for the document in which the tag appears).
- KeyPhrases (contains a row for each individual key phrase with the document_id for the document in which the phrase appears).
- Locations (contains a row for each individual location with the document_id for the document in which the location appears).
The ability to create table projections enables you to build analytical and reporting solutions that query the relational schema; for example, using Microsoft Power BI. The automatically generated key columns can be used to join the tables in queries - for example to return all of the locations mentioned in a specific document.
To learn more about creating knowledge stores with Azure AI Search, see the Azure AI Search documentation.