(page requirements)

Add a search engine to your site

Do you have way too many files for your visitors to browse through? How about adding a search engine that can search a select section of your site.
Server-side Solutions
  1. Search modules integrated to web servers
    If you run your own web server, first find out if it has its own search engine module or index server. Such modules can be easily enabled, usually without having to install extra programs.
    • Generally faster than other search solutions.
    • Tight integration to the web server could make it easier to administer (for example, to dynamically select which files and directories to index).
    • Your web server may not have an integrated search module.
    • Usually requires full access to the web server. You may not get such access unless you run your own web server.
  2. Search engines for web servers
    You can also use third party search engines (binary programs, not scripts) that are optimized for servers running on different hardware and operating system platforms.
    • Usually faster than using scripts.
    • Usually requires full access to the web server. In most cases you need to be running your own web server or at least have administrative access to it, in order to install this type of search programs.
    • Platform dependant : Depending on your computer hardware and operating system platform, there many not be many choices.
  3. Search scripts for web sites with CGI access
    If none of the above options are available to you, you may be able to use a CGI script to search a set of directories on your web server. If you can install custom CGI scripts, you have the flexibility to choose from many CGI search scripts. Otherwise, you may have to rely on a script provided by your web space provider (if they in fact provide such a script).
    • There are many platform-independent Perl scripts to choose from.
    • Usually doesn't require full/physical access to the web server.
    • Can be used on most web servers with CGI access.
    • Requires CGI access.
    • Generally slower than integrated modules and programs.
    • May slowdown your web server (more than other types of search solutions).
Client-side Solutions
  1. Search components
    If you're unable to run CGI scripts or use any other server-side search solutions described above, you could use a client-side solution.
    This involves placing a Java applet, ActiveX control, browser plug-in or some other similar component on your web page that's able to search a set of pre-indexed pages. These components (small programs) gets loaded to your visitor's computer and run inside his or her browser, rather than from within your web server, which is the reason you don't need CGI or other server-side access. To reduce load time, these components will usually pre-index your web pages and generate a database that's accessed by the client-side component during searches.
    • Doesn't require CGI or other server-side access.
    • Search results can be displayed on the same web page (without displaying a new page with results).
    • Maybe able to do incremental searches (display matching entries in real-time as you type search words. more you type, more focused your results become).
    • Visitors using older browsers that doesn't support technologies such as Java, ActiveX or plug-ins (depending on the type of component you use) may not be able to search.
    • Search page itself may take longer to load than pages using server-side solutions, depending on the speed of the Internet connection and the computer hardware. This is because not only the search component has to be loaded on to the visitor's computer before running the search, but the index file has to be transferred to the client computer through the Internet connection before the search can be performed on the client computer.
    • Search results may not be as up-to-date as those search engines running on the server, because the page index file usually needs to be re-indexed whenever pages are updated.
External / Hosted Solutions
  1. Internet search engines customized to search your site
    If you're unable to install any programs or scripts on your web server, you maybe able to use a public Internet search engine to search pages under your domain or URL. To use this method,
    • Go to your favorite Internet search engine and find out if they allow you to use their engine as a "personal search engine" for your site. You may have to go through a few search engines to find what's most suitable for your needs.
    • Submit your pages to the search engine.
    • Finally place a customized version of their search form (search interface where you enter the keywords, etc.) on your home page. This search form should have the option to limit search results to your domain or URL. Refer to search engine documentation for details on how to do this (most likely in the advanced search options section).
      Now you should be able to use a generic Internet search engine to search your pages by limiting the search results to your site.
    • Doesn't require CGI access, server-side access or client-side components. Usually as easy as pasting a set of HTML tags on to your search page.
    • Can be faster than using a search script or client-side search component, because public Internet search engines are highly optimized for searching using special software, high-end hardware and generally faster Internet connections.
    • Less control over the whole process, including how the results will appear, since the search engine is run on another server controlled by others.
    • The search results page may contain advertisements placed by the search engine owners and their sponsors.
    • Searches are generally limited to full-text searches (rather than keyword or other limited searches).
    • Some of your visitors may get confused or distracted as to where they are and how to navigate back and forth your pages and the search engine's results page.
    • Search results may not be as up-to-date compared to those search engines running on the same server, because public search engines may not re-index your pages as often or as quickly as you update your pages.
Ready to get started? Here are some links to external resources that could ease your search for a search solution:
  • Excite for Web Servers
    Software product which, when installed on a web server, helps visitors search and navigate through your local content of HTML and ASCII documents.
  • Microsoft Index Server
    Works with Windows NT operating system and Internet Information Server to provide your organization access to all of the documents stored on your intranet or Internet site. It allows you to perform full-text searches and retrieve all types of information from any Web browser, in just about any format.
  • Netcreations PinPoint
    Simple to use search engine for your site.
  • HotBot Tools for Your Page
    Use these HTML examples to add HotBot searching to your own Web pages. Simply copy the HTML and paste it into your site's source.
  • The CGI Resource Index's list of search scripts
    Scripts to search your web site for keywords or phrases. Differ in options and complexity.
  • Ultraseek Server
    Search engine software for your web site or Intranet.
  • Lycos Site Spider
    Web Spidering product that indexes pages on a Web Site and provides a search mechanism to help visitors find those pages.
  • WinFiles.com Search Authoring Tools
  • SWISH-Enhanced
    Simple Web Indexing System for Humans - Enhanced. A system for indexing collections of Web pages or other text files. Key features include the ability to limit searches to certain HTML tags (META, TITLE, comments, etc.).
Listing #1 : Searching your site -- software, scripts and other methods
Applicable Keywords : Common Gateway Interface, Components, HTML, Internet Information Server, Java, Mini Tutorial, Web Resource, World Wide Web
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