I’ve been getting at least a dozen emails a day asking when the CyberSearch extension would be getting updated for Firefox 4, but I have some bad news for everyone. Our extension was made possible thanks to Google’s Web Search API, but they deprecated it back in November 2010 in favor of a new JSON Custom Search API. From a developer’s point of view this kind of thing happens all the time… old technologies are replaced with new technologies. Generally these improvements are for the better, but in this case they put some restrictions in place for anyone using the new API:
Usage is free for all users, up to 100 queries per day. […] Any usage beyond the free usage quota will fail if you are not signed up for billing. Once you have enabled billing, you will be billed for all requests at the rate of $5 per 1000 queries, for up to 10,000 queries per day. If you need additional quota, please request additional quota from the console.
The CyberSearch extension basically performs a query every time you pause for a second while typing in the Firefox address bar. I’d estimate that the 100-query limit they are imposing will be hit by our extension every second given that there are over 80k daily users. So it would likely cost us thousands of dollars a day to keep this running… assuming Google would even approve a rate limit as high as what we’d need. Since we don’t make any money off the extension you can see how that isn’t really feasible.
So why is CyberSearch still (intermittently) working for some people? Google’s blog post from last November says that they are in the process of phasing out the older APIs, and as a result they are “tightening up the enforcement of the rate limits” as time goes on. Unfortunately that means you will likely see the extension inconsistently working, and that has been the root cause of 99% of bug reports being submitted to us. In my tests about half of all requests being made would return an error saying the extension exceeded the rate limit quota.
Thanks to everyone who provided support and troubleshooting during the development of CyberSearch! It was a fun ride, but unless Google changes their policy this will have to be the end of the road.