CyberNotes
CyberSearch Special

cybersearch 1 logo.pngIt’s been exactly one month since I uploaded the first version of CyberSearch to Mozilla’s site, and since then we’ve had 4,000 downloads of the extension. What’s really kept us going are all of you who have expressed how valuable the extension has become, and we’re now averaging 4.60/5.00 stars from the 34 reviews we’ve received thus far. As a way to show our appreciation to those leaving reviews we’ve placed quotes from some of them on the CyberSearch homepage.

My hope is that one day CyberSearch will make it out of the Mozilla Sandbox so that more people can enjoy it, but I know the editors are still rather swamped. Sometimes my impatience gets the best of me though. ;)

To celebrate our one month anniversary I’ve decided to release a rather major upgrade that hopefully includes the features many of you have been looking for. We’ve also cleaned up the code, fixed some bugs, and much more. And so we are proud to unleash CyberSearch 1.0…


–Import/Manage Built-in Keywords–

This is by far one of our most requested features. As many of you know Firefox 3 includes a simple interface for managing all of your search keywords in one central location. This is normally done by clicking on the drop-down menu in the search box, and then selecting the Manage Search Engines option.

What people have been wanting us to do is provide a way to tie our keyword system together with the one that is built-in to Firefox. Unfortunately this is rather difficult since the two keyword systems are completely different in the way they work, but we’ve come up with the best solution we could.

In the CyberSearch settings there is now a new section on the Keywords tab dedicated towards importing and managing the keywords you’ve customized in the browser. If you choose to import keywords it will scan through the search engine keywords (not those in your bookmarks), and it will automatically add any of them that you haven’t already assigned a keyword for. When it’s all done it will notify you of how many keywords couldn’t be imported because they were duplicates.

cybersearch keywords.png

By ignoring duplicates this means that you can reimport the keywords from the browser as more are added, and you don’t have to worry about it doubling up on some of the existing keywords.

How does it determine the URL to search? We tried to put some intelligence behind this, but it’s not going to be perfect every time. What we’ll do is truncate off the end of the URL so that there isn’t all of the garbage. For example, a Wikipedia search URL normally looks like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=%s

After it gets imported it will look like this:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

In that example it works out as it should, and will pull in search results from Wikipedia as the user would expect. However, you should probably go back through the imported entries to make sure the various sites are searching the URL you want.

One thing that I want to make clear is that this doesn’t import any of your keywords from your bookmarks. The Add to Search Bar extension makes it a bit easier to add any search box to the search bar, and so I recommend installing that if you decide to transition your bookmark keywords over to the search bar keywords.

–Image Search Previews–

We’ve also enhanced image searches per your request! When creating a keyword for performing a Google Image search I recommend leaving the icon URL field blank. When you do this it will use a thumbnail of each resulting image as the icon:

firefox image search.png

We’ve also decided to place the dimensions of each image at the end of the title in brackets so that you know whether the image you’re opening is small or large.

Existing CyberSearch users: You will need to go back and clear out the icon URL for any Google Image search entries in the settings before seeing the previews.

–Auto Retrieval of Site Icons–

Now when performing a Google Web, Blog, or News search it’s possible to have it show each site’s icon next to their results. What it does is look for the “favicon.ico” file at the root of each domain, and then displays it accordingly:

cybersearch auto icons.png

The catch? Not all sites put the favicon.ico file at the root of their domain, which means no icon will appear next to those results. More often than not it is able to find the icon at the root of the domain though.

To enable this feature just leave the icon URL field blank when creating a keyword for a Google Web, Blog, or News search.

Existing CyberSearch users: You will need to go back and clear out the icon URL in the settings (for the supported search types listed above) before seeing the automatic icons.

–Pull Up the Results Page–

The very last entry for every type of Google search will now is now designated to taking you to the corresponding Google page. In the event that no results from Google can be returned it will be the only option shown to you:

cybersearch go to results.png

The reason we show this even when Google returns no results is that going to the actual Google page might be able to provide you with “did you mean…” results.

–Quick Add the Current Site--

The odds are probably pretty good that if you’re opening up the CyberSearch options that your intentions are to add a keyword for the site you’re currently on. If that’s the case we’re making it a lot easier! First off when you open up the CyberSearch options it will automatically grab the address of the site you’re currently viewing, and will insert that into the “new keyword” form.

Still not fast enough for you? There’s now an “Add to CyberSearch” option located right under your nose in the context menu (a.k.a. right-click menu):

Firefox.png

Clicking that will pull up the CyberSearch options with the current site’s URL automatically filled in. Talk about speedy!

–Better Identification–

Have you noticed anything else new in several of the screenshots above? We’ve made it easier to identify results produced by the extension by placing the CyberSearch logo in the upper-right corner of each entry:

cybersearch identification.png

UPDATE: Before reading on you should know that we’ve added the background customization option back to the CyberSearch extension. We also improved how it works!

As a tradeoff we’ve removed the feature in the options that lets you customize the background color of the results. The new icon does the job of making the CyberSearch results distinguishable from the rest, and at the same time it will look nice on all of the themes out-of-the-box. Not only that but I just wasn’t happy with the way I implemented the option.

Don’t worry, if you’re heart is set on customizing the background color of the results you can use Stylish. Here are the instructions needed to change the background color in Stylish:

  1. Install Stylish
  2. In Firefox go to Tools -> Stylish -> Write Style -> Blank Style
  3. Give it a description, such as CyberSearch
  4. Copy and paste the following code into the box, replacing EEEEEE with the hex color you want:
    richlistitem[type ~= 'cybersearch'] > hbox {
    background-color:#EEEEEE;

    }

cybersearch background color-2.png

After that all you have to do is save the style, and you should see the results immediately without having to restart the browser. If you need help coming up with the 6-character hex value for a specific color you may find this site to be of assistance.

–And More–

Still want more? This release also includes a handful of bug fixes (all reproducible bugs up until now have been fixed), performance improvements, and cleaner code. What more could you ask for? Oh, okay. You twisted my arm. I’ll throw in one more minor feature.

When working with the keyword menu next to the keywords we also show what type of search corresponds to that particular keyword:

cybersearch keyword menu.png

For those of you who already have CyberSearch installed you should be prompted shortly (if you haven’t been already) to install the updated version. New and existing users alike can install the new version from the Mozilla Add-ons site, or you can watch a video demonstration I previously made when the extension launched.

Enjoy!

There Are 9 Comments

  1. Thank you Ashley and Ryan. You have managed to create a top quality extension — it is clear that a lot of effort has been put into it!

    A tip for all users: of course you can log in to install experimental extensions, but you should bear in mind these extensions won’t auto-update until they leave the experimental stage. So make sure you check every now and then for new updates.

  2. Cody wrote:
    A tip for all users: of course you can log in to install experimental extensions, but you should bear in mind these extensions won’t auto-update until they leave the experimental stage. So make sure you check every now and then for new updates.

    Really? I never knew that. Since I’m creating the extension I’m always running the latest version, and never have to wait to see if it auto-updates. I thought they did even if they were experimental though.

  3. Well, some experimental themes I have don’t auto-update, I only find out about the new versions when I visit the add-ons site. So I guess the same happens with extensions.

  4. this just gets better! seeing what you have done with google images, is it possible to use the google preview servers to bring up thumb nails of web pages,i know you won’t be able to make much out of the image but it would be cool. ;)

  5. Remember to use this userstyle that integrates with the CyberSearch Extension:

    userstyles.org/styles/8564

    Changes the background color of each row in the AwesomeBar based on it’s Type.
    Easily Distinguish between Tags, Bookmarks and History items in your Awesome Bar List.

    This makes your Awesome Bar colorful based on what type of items you are currently displaying

    Features and Functionality:
    + Tags will be Light Yellow
    + Bookmarks will be Blue
    + History items will be Light Green

  6. Yeah mine didn’t auto-update either, I guess I should be checking upon those other experimental extensions for updates.

    Great new features and improvements guys, this is a fantastic extension. Did you fix the bug where pressing enter after typing “domain.tld” in the location bar did not lead to loading the site until you click on the empty page below it?

  7. james wrote:
    this just gets better! seeing what you have done with google images, is it possible to use the google preview servers to bring up thumb nails of web pages,i know you won’t be able to make much out of the image but it would be cool. ;)

    Probably, but I don’t know if that’s something I’d want to do. Right now I have it setup to show the site’s icon next to the Google results, and I think that’s more useful than having a tiny unreadable thumbnail.

    -=Ben=- wrote:
    Remember to use this userstyle that integrates with the CyberSearch Extension:

    userstyles.org/styles/8564

    You should add our CyberSearch style to that. It’s not like it would interfere with anything if the user didn’t have CyberSearch installed.

    Change wrote:
    Great new features and improvements guys, this is a fantastic extension. Did you fix the bug where pressing enter after typing “domain.tld” in the location bar did not lead to loading the site until you click on the empty page below it?

    Um, I believe so. I think that was fixed a few versions ago, unless that’s not the same bug I’m thinking of. Try out the new version and let me know if you see the problem.

  8. Cody wrote:
    Thank you Ashley and Ryan. You have managed to create a top quality extension — it is clear that a lot of effort has been put into it!

    A tip for all users: of course you can log in to install experimental extensions, but you should bear in mind these extensions won’t auto-update until they leave the experimental stage. So make sure you check every now and then for new updates.

    I should probably mention that I’ve done absolutely nothing with this extension other than talk with Ryan about his ideas for it and ways to improve it. It’s been all him and he has put a lot of time into it. Good thing he likes doing it. :)

  9. Ryan wrote:
    Um, I believe so. I think that was fixed a few versions ago, unless that’s not the same bug I’m thinking of. Try out the new version and let me know if you see the problem.

    It seems to be fixed indeed. I guess I missed a version. Thanks :)

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