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This paper presents Java Search Services Framework (JSSF), developed at the IBM TJ. Watson Research Center JSSF supports integration of distributed search centric service components, and enables rapid development and comparative evaluation of search applications. In this paper we focus on describing the architectural characteristics of JSSF including main concepts, internal mechanisms and structural elements. The most significant aspects of JSSF are: (1) domain oriented approach, (2) model based decomposition, (3) task centric composition and (4) event based integration. An implementation of visual composition and evaluation toolkits built upon JSSF will be described as well. A preliminary study of using JSSF to construct search centric applications will be given at the end of this paper to illustrate the impact of JSSF on application development in terms of both flexibility and performance.