Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What sites do you search?

I often need to use a search engine on a different site, to check the library catalogue or to find more information about that news I just heard.  If there are any searches that you find you use regularly, read on!

This is a problem that has already been considered in Cambridge, and they have addressed it in two ways.  You can add a search toolbar to your browser window:

The image above has been borrowed from the toolbar instructions on the Cambridge website.  Unfortunately since I'm working on a 9" laptop it doesn't work so well for me.  They've thought of that too and given us an option to add a Newton search to that handy search box in our browsers:

It's actually possible to add most other searches engines to the browser as long as they use a single search box.  I've added the Essex public library catalogue search to mine using Mycroft (click on the image to see it more closely).

First, do a search in the catalogue / search engine you want to use. Make sure to use a search term you'll be able to find in the url.

Copy the resulting url and paste it into the Search URL field.
(Pick something you'll be able to recognise in the url.)

Find the search term you used and replace it with {searchTerm}

Fill in whatever other fields you want to and then click 'Generate Plugin'.

Copy the code that appears in the box, paste it into Notepad or other text editor, and save it as an .xml file.

Upload this file to the internet.  The file for my Essex library search is at http://niamhandandrew.com/elan.xml.

Then use this code (edited to use your file link instead):

and paste it into header of your website.  If you're not sure how to do this, I'll refer you to Step 3 from this previous post.

Some sites have it included in the headers of their own code, allowing people to add their search by visiting any page of their website.  It would be really great if the one for the Cambridge catalogue could be added this way.  Here's how it looks in Facebook:

Added advantage: certain people have no more excuses for buying books on Amazon rather than checking the library catalogue [I'm looking at you, Andrew!]

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