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OpenSearch for Plone Sites

October 25, 2009

OpenSearch is a technology that allows websites and search engines to publish search results in a standard format. If you use the Firefox search bar, you use OpenSearch. The search engines it comes with – Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc. – all support the OpenSearch standard.

Even if you use the search bar every day, you may not have noticed the auto-discovery feature it provides. When you are on a website that provides OpenSearch, the search bar turns bluish to advertise the fact.

Auto-discovery

Click on the down arrow to add the site as a new search plugin.

Once you select the Add … line you’ll be able to search that site from your search bar just like Google.

It’s easy to enable the Firefox search bar for your website. There are 2 steps to the process:

  1. Create an XML file on your site that contains an OpenSearchDescription. This tells an OpenSearch subscriber how to search your website. You can see an example on David Walsh’s Blog. (And your search bar will be in auto-discovery mode while you are on that site.)
  2. Add a “link” element to the HTML header of your web pages to alert browsers that OpenSearch is available.
    <link rel="search" type="application/opensearchdescription+xml"
    href="/opensearch.xml" title="My Site Search" />

Doing this is easy in Plone thanks to Hector Jose Rico Garcia’s product Jaop.  It implements the OpenSearch interface on a Plone site, including:

It also provides a control panel configuration tool to create the XML OpenSourceDescription fields, and options to control syndication formats and auto-discovery.

There is currently some confusion around the Jaop product because two different people have eggified it and added it to the Plone Collective under different names.

I hope we’ll be able to straighten this out shortly so there is a definitive OpenSearch Plone product to recommend to people who have a Plone site with lots of searchable content that they’d like to promote.

If you’re interested in helping improve the product, please contact me. There are some interesting new features in the latest release of the OpenSearch standard, like microformats and geoposition, that would be valuable additions.

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