November 07, 2003
The best just got better: Google Deskbar

Google has launched the Google Deskbar - a tool similar to the already well-known Google Toolbar, but accessible from any application (as it sits next to the Windows system tray), not just the browser.

Billiant novelties include the option to configure custom searches - if you're a film buff like me, you might want to set up an IMDB search (see sample screenshot below), I'm definitely also adding an amazon.co.uk search tab.

Here is some more info if you want to set up custom searches yourself:

through some leafing through the page's HTML source code, you can usually find the parameters you need to create a custom search. For example, the source code on the imdb.com front page is

<form action="/Find" method=post>
<tr bgcolor="#FFFFFF" align=left>
<td valign=top width="100%">
<select name=select>
<option selected>All</option>
<option>All (beta)</option>
<option>Titles</option>
<option>My Movies</option>
<option>People</option>
[...]
</select><br clear=left>
<input type=text name="for" size=14> <input type=image height=21 width=31 border=0 value="Go" name="Go" src="http://i.imdb.com/f163.gif" align=absmiddle>[...]</form>
The important bits are highlighted in bold, and those are the pieces we'll use to derive the URL to give to the Google Deskbar.

First, we need to find where the search form on the page starts. This is indicated by the form-tag. Next we need to know the search URL. This is the base URL of the page you're watching (here "http://www.imdb.com") plus the contents of the action parameter (here "/Find").

Although many pages uses the post method, the pages will usually (no guarantee here, but usually) accept URLs in the get format (what's the difference? read more here and here)

Now we need to determine which parameters are being sent as part of the search. These will be tagged on to the URL after a "?". input-tags and selection boxes all contain info we might need to pass, note the name of the fields (here "select" and "for"); here I default to search for "All", but might just as well easily create a "IMDb Quotes" search later.

Last but not least, build the URL, sticking "{1}" where the keywords entered on the webpage would have appeared:

http://www.imdb.com/Find?select=All&for={1}
Feel free to add your own custom search URLs in the comments below (please mention what they search for / on which site, if not intuitive).

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Comments

Here's one to ask the jews :-D

http://web.ask.com/web?q={1}&o=0&qsrc=0

Posted by: Claudia on November 7, 2003 01:43 PM

Thank you for opening my eyes, I have to admit I yawned when I saw the news of "Google desktop".

Here is a search in my modest database of web development resources:

http://www.webdevindex.org/cgi-bin/links/search.cgi?query={1}

Or how about a search in the "Google Directory" (otherwise known as Open Directory Project).

http://search.dmoz.org/cgi-bin/search?search={1}

Posted by: Jarle on November 8, 2003 12:55 PM

Adapting two of my favorites, that I have added to my Opera searches:
http://everything2.com/index.pl?node={1}
http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va={1}

Posted by: Jorunn on November 8, 2003 07:10 PM

I love google all around, from their advertising to their search to their news page. But this gets me wondering how long they'll be on top.

I remember not too long ago loving Altavista. :(

Posted by: Peter on November 10, 2003 05:08 AM

I can't remember ever loving Altavista. It was the best of the worst, as far as I can remember.

Posted by: Jarle on November 10, 2003 06:51 PM

With the risk of sounding hopelessly boring, this is stuff that Opera (and the Mozilla guys if I recall correctly) have had built in to their browser for ages ;-)

Posted by: Remco on November 12, 2003 01:29 PM

Remco,

I suppose the key thing here is that it's not in the browser but running as a separate app in the on the Windows program bar; accessible with a keyboard combination from any application. Small differences, but I'm already finding I'm using it more intuitively than starting a browser window & entering stuff into the original Google Toolbar...

Just my 2 cents - just another way of accessing the web :-)

Posted by: Anders on November 12, 2003 01:42 PM

Q: What happens when you have a search engine that uses multiple search parameters?

A: Switch to Dave's Quick Search Deskbar

Clearly superior, it uses an XML for each search engine's customize parameters. The XML can be generated with a Search Wizard. Oh yeah, it has command line aliases, a CSS skin, plug-in extensibility, Javascript, VBScript and WSH. It's the code found in Hotbot's searchbar. I think it has about 100 custom searches to choose from, the development is open source and it's free. Definately, Geekster's Choice.

http://dqsd.net

Posted by: geekster on November 13, 2003 04:19 AM

Ah, this kind of software is music to my ears. Anyway, I am pleased with my Opera searches but I will let this thing rest on my taskbar to check if I find it useful.

My custom searches:

Clue Lookup's Norwegian-English dictionary.
http://66.70.46.80:5555/find?lang=us&dict=NOUKMX&word={1}

The other way round...
http://66.70.46.80:5555/find?lang=us&dict=UKNOMX&word={1}

The fantastic All Music Guide
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&opt1=1&sql={1}

Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/external-search?tag=opera-20&index=blended&keyword={1}

Posted by: i1277 on November 13, 2003 02:02 PM

nice review :)

visit http://www34.brinkster.com/desklets/
for more custom searches...

cya

Posted by: desklets on January 4, 2004 06:09 PM
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O Mundo de Claudia: Google Deskbar (November 7, 2003 12:59 PM)
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Daily Dictum: Did you Google it ? (November 8, 2003 03:04 PM)
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atog: google deskbar (November 27, 2003 03:28 PM)
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