I’ve been working on a new version of CyberSearch for a little while now, and I’ve been trying to come up with ways to add all of the most requested features. It wasn’t until about August 2009 that I started to get inspired to work on the extension again, which is when we all of a sudden saw a huge surge in downloads that has remained constant ever since. In the last 3 months we went from getting about 300 downloads a day and 10,000 active users to an astounding 3,000-7,000 downloads a day and almost 90,000 active users. I believe the rapid increase has been coming from the fact that we’re now a Mozilla “recommended” add-on, and as some users have pointed out to me our add-on sometimes shows up in the add-on management window within Firefox. So a big thanks to Mozilla for giving me the motivation to push out a new version, because without them the CyberSearch growth graph probably wouldn’t look like this:
CyberSearch 2.0 is almost a complete rewrite of the previous version, and I did that for performance concerns. Since I wanted to add more features I knew I had to squeeze every last ounce of juice out before I could move on, otherwise I could have ended up with something sluggish enough that people wouldn’t even want to use it. To put it in perspective… CyberSearch 2.0 actually does about half the number of computations that CyberSearch 1.0 did for each search that is performed.
As far as new features go we’ve got quite a few! The first thing is Bing support. You can now create keywords that use either Bing or Google, which is pretty cool if you think about it. That means you can make one keyword that searches Bing, and another that searches Google. If you don’t like the results that one search engine shows just try using the other… and all you have to do is change the keyword. The real reason I wanted to add Bing support, however, is because they have some API functionality that Google doesn’t offer. Thanks to Bing you can actually create keywords that will do conversions/calculations using their Instant Answer technology, or lookup the spelling of a word. You can do this all from the comfort of your address bar.
Next up: search descriptions. This is undoubtedly the most requested feature. You wanted some way to view the descriptions of all the search results just as if you were at the search engine page. I struggled with this for awhile because I didn’t want to try and cram the descriptions into the Address Bar menu which is already cramped, and could require a lot of scrolling to see all the results. That’s when I came up with the idea to use the area behind the menu for this! That way I have a large amount of space to work with, and am able to display way more details than I originally anticipated. For example, if you’re using a keyword with the Google Local service just press the arrows on your keyboard to highlight one of the results. You should see the background behind the menu dim down, and location details will appear… including a thumbnail of a map for where that place is located (as seen in the screenshot above)! All of the different types of searches provide you with customized details (video searches show the duration, book searches provide the ISBN number, blog searches show the publication date, etc…), and screenshots of them all can be found on the CyberSearch homepage.
Those are the two main highlights of the extension, but that doesn’t mean that’s all that changed. You’ll also find little things throughout CyberSearch 2.0 that should make your life a little easier. Things like a “snapback” button in the address for pulling up the last search phrase you used, or the ability to import/export your configuration and keywords so that setting up multiple machines with CyberSearch is a breeze! These were all your ideas, and hopefully they are exactly what you wanted.
When I describe my extension to people they often ask if it’s similar to Google Chrome’s “omnibar,” which is the name for their browser’s address bar. It eliminates the need for a search box just like CyberSearch does, but it isn’t nearly as powerful. Just watch this 3-minute video I put together and tell me if Chrome can do this:
The next thing I want to try and work on is localization so that CyberSearch supports other languages/countries, but it will probably be a little while before I can get to adding any big features like this again. If you find any bugs please report them so that I can try to get them fixed right away. Thanks again for all of your support and feedback!