Public PeteSearch Launch

TreeOn Tuesday night, I found a way to work around the Firefox crash that was holding me back from doing a proper launch of PeteSearch (by switching to getElementByName() rather than getElementById() for the technically minded).

I started off by posting to the forum, once I heard back from the guys there that it all seemed to be working for them, I contacted John Battelle and Gary Price. They’ve both been very generous with their time, in Gary’s case despite just having just got married on Sunday, and being about to head on his honeymoon! Congratulations Gary!

That lead to a lot of traffic, and some more blog mentions, notably from Pete Prestino, and a couple of French sites, Brainsfeed and NetWizz

It was really nice to see other people as excited about the idea behind PeteSearch as I am. I’m convinced there’s a lot of ways to improve search interfaces, it’s good to see people are looking for something better than the current passive page full of links.

What was really helpful were all the ideas for improving PeteSearch. Gary mentioned that the split-screen view was too hard to close, which I  plan on fixing with a button on a small bar at the top. I might add some other options there too, I’m reluctant to have a typical always-on toolbar since I don’t want to suck up users valuable screen real-estate, but a transient bar there seems a lot less annoying.

All-new PeteSearch

EyeI’ve just put up a new version of the PeteSearch Firefox plugin. Highlights include Technorati support, a better summary popup, control+equals will open all the results in new tabs, and the preview is now shown in a split-screen view rather than a popup window.

These improvements were inspired by some great feedback, including Ionut from Google Operating System and Phillipp from Google Blogoscoped, thanks for all your help!  One question that I’m planning to answer with a short video demo is why it second-guesses Google and checks all the pages in the results itself, but here’s a summary:

I’m a graphics researcher, so I have to do a lot of exotic queries. I got very frustrated one day after clicking on a bunch of results, and on each one waiting for it to load, only to discover that it didn’t have the term I was looking for, or the page didn’t exist at all. Computers are meant to speed up repetitive, time-consuming work like that, so I decided to write a tool to automate the process I was going through.

Here’s an example of a query that has a lot of bad results:

And here’s the top ten results I get:

customizing mozilla
regexp term missing

Mozilla Firefox 1.5 files and source code
Exists, and has all the terms

Gives a 404 error when clicked on

mozilla-devel-1.6-12.5.100mdk.ia64 RPM
Gives a 404 error when clicked on

seamonkey-debug-1.1.1-2mdv2007.1.i586 RPM
Gives a 404 error when clicked on

r976 – in changes/jat/mozilla1.7.13/tools/sdk/mozilla-1.7.13 …
Exists, and has all the terms

Ž­è @ d – ¨ I \ ( ] Œ ^ ß BD < , Y Ä ,$ , : G > d ã † Ž ˜ y Ô Ó h …
All terms found –

/usr/share/comps/sparc/.discinfo /usr/share/comps/sparc/comps.xml …
Exists, but doesn’t contain either of the terms

libPropList-devel-0.10.1-371.i586.rpm …
Exists, and has both terms

bin/cat utils/coreutils bin/chgrp utils/coreutils bin/chmod utils …
Exists, and has both terms

So four out of the top ten results are bad, and without PeteSearch I’d have to waste time clicking on them, waiting for them to load or fail, and then search through for the terms I wanted. With my extension, I can focus on the good results.

If you are doing a lot of complex or obscure searches, you should try PeteSearch, it’s designed to save you time.