I’ve finally been able to spend some more time on my quest to speed up searching. I came to the painful conclusion that the cross-platform, cross-browser, no-installation advantages of using a Java applet were outweighed by the long startup times and scary security messages.
Instead, I’ve written a Firefox extension that does everything SearchMash did, and more. PeteSearch is now live at http://petesearch.com/
It’s a low-key release at the moment, because I ran into a Firefox bug that caused getElementById to crash the browser occasionally. It turned out that this was one of the top reported crashers in Firefox 2, but nobody had a good repro case or fix.
I rolled up my sleeves, checked out the Firefox source, and after some logging, debugging and head-scratching, figured out what was going wrong. Jonas Sicking was able to give me some pointers on how to fix it, and I’ve got a patch he’s reviewing at the moment.
Since it’s a high-priority bug, I believe my fix will be in the next point release of Firefox, 2.0.4, which I hope will be out in a few weeks. So I’m going to wait for that fix before I really push it.
There’s some big improvements from SearchMash:
- Hot-keys – You can use control+left/right arrow keys to move through the results, and up and down to move through the pages of results
- Text preview – You can get a plain-text summary of each result, with every occurrence of a search term shown in context. It’s like the summary below the link in Google, but for every time the term occurs.
- Internationalization – 55 national google sites are supported
- Ask.com and Microsoft Live are supported as well as Google