Sunday, May 17, 2009

OpenSearch support

Arora has had a toolbar search since the beginnings. Its limitation is that you can only search on one particular search engine which is currently Google and you are not able to add new engines, while many browsers offer much more. And as changes in this area were repeatedly requested, we decided to take up this subject and yesterday fruits of our work were merged into the mainline, which will become 0.7 in a week. The most significant change is that now you can have as many search engines in the toolbar search as you want. You can switch between them using the toolbar search menu, which used to display recent searched phrases.

Following the topic of this blog - we decided to base our implementation on the support for OpenSearch format. It's a XML-based format describing search engines - see for more information. So what exactly does it mean for the end user?

First off, it allows you to easily add new engines to your collection. And as the format is very popular, you'll have no problem finding custom search engines. Many sites provide OpenSearch descriptions of their own search engines. They very often link descriptions with the sites - Arora will pick them up and list available engines in the toolbar search menu. When it founds any, you will be able to install those search engines just by one click.

There are also sites like out there which collect dozens of OpenSearch described search engines in one place. Those allow you to add new engines to your collection just by clicking on specific links. Of course you are always asked if you really want to have the requested engine installed.

A simple manager has been created to allow some basic management like adding/removing engines. You can also restore default engines that are shipped with Arora and add new engines from local files.

While support for Google suggestions in the toolbar search popup has been introduced in 0.6, the OpenSearch implementation includes support for suggestion services linked in OpenSearch descriptions. Now you'll be provided suggestions whenever an engine supports them.

The context menu in the web view got integrated with OpenSearch engines. Now you can easily search for selected text using installed engines.

Please note that from the technical point of view, Arora does not support the entire OpenSearch standard. We've added support for most of the main specification aspects. As the specification is under strong development, we also have to support stuff that isn't in the specification any more but is still widely used out there.

We will be looking into new ways to integrate the OpenSearch capabilities even more and make searching easier and faster.

Also today we had a string freeze and we are going to release 0.7 in a week. In the meantime, any help with updating translations would be appreciated. If you are interested, checkout the translations wiki page.


Sho said...

Nice! Arora now has better search engine support than Firefox out of the box -- to be able to select the target search engine for a search on selected text I had to install an extension in Firefox.

Tom Wills said...

Looking forward to the update, Arora is a great browser!