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					                                                                              briefing-08                                                                                 briefing-08


                       Search Facilities                                                                              Search Facilities
                      For Your Web Site                                                                              For Your Web Site
                              A QA Focus Document                                                                            A QA Focus Document

Background                                                                                    Background
Web sites which contain mo re than a handful of pages should provide a search facility.       Web sites which contain mo re than a handful of pages should provide a search facility.
This is important for several reasons :                                                       This is important for several reasons:
      End users will not be aware of the size of your Web site, and so will wish to use            End users will not be aware of the size of your Web site, and so will wish to use
       a search tool to explo re it .                                                                a search tool to explo re it .
      End users will not necessary understand the browse structure of your Web site.               End users will not necessary understand the browse structure of your Web site.
      Search engines are one of the most widely used tools by end users.                           Search engines are one of the most widely used tools by end users.
However there a re resource imp lications in maintain ing link integrity.                     However there are resource imp lications in maintain ing link integrity.

Approaches To Providing Search Facilities                                                     Approaches To Providing Search Facilities
The two main approaches to the provision of search engines on a Web site are to host a        The two main approaches to the provision of search engines on a Web site are to host a
search engine locally or to make use of an externally -hosted search engine.                  search engine locally or to make use of an externally -hosted search engine.

Local Search Engine                                                                           Local Search Engine
The traditional approach is to install search engine software locally. The software may       The traditional approach is to install s earch engine software locally. The software may
be open source (such as ht://Dig [1]) o r licensed software (such as Inktomi [2]). It         be open source (such as ht://Dig [1]) o r licensed software (such as Inktomi [2]). It
should be noted that the search engine software does not have to be installed on the          should be noted that the search engine software does not have to be installed on the
same system as the Web server. This means that you are not constrained to using the           same system as the Web server. This means that you are not constrained to using the
same operating system environ ment for your search engine as your Web server.                 same operating system environ ment for your search engine as your Web server.
Because the search engine software can hosted separately from the main Web server it          Because the search engine software can hosted separately from the main Web server it
may be possible to make use of an exitsing search engine service within the organisation      may be possible to make use of an exitsing search engine service within the organisation
which can be extended to index a new Web site.                                                which can be extended to index a new Web site.

Externally-Hosted Search Engine                                                               Externally-Hosted Search Engine
An alternative approach is to allow a third party to index your Web site. There are a         An alternative approach is to allow a third party to index your Web site. There are a
number of companies which provide such services. Some of these services are free: they        number of companies which provide such services. Some of these services are free: they
may be funded by advertising revenue. Such services include Google [3], Atomz [4]             may be funded by advertising revenue. Such services include Google [3], Atomz [4]
and FreeFind [5].                                                                             and FreeFind [5].


Produced by QA Focus – supporting JISC’s digital library programmes                Dec 2004   Produced by QA Focus – supporting JISC’s digital library programmes               Dec 2004
Pros And Cons                                                                                Pros And Cons
Using a locall y-installed search engine g ives you control over the software. You can       Using a locall y-installed search engine g ives you control over the software. You can
control the resources to be indexed and those to be excluded, the indexing frequency,        control the resources to be indexed and those to be excluded, the indexing frequency,
the user interface, etc. Ho wever such control may have a price: you may need to have        the user interface, etc. Ho wever such control may have a price: you may need to have
technical expert ise in order to install, configure and maintain the software.               technical expert ise in order to install, configure and maintain the software.
Using a externall y-hosted search engine can remove the need for technical expert ise:       Using a externall y-hosted search engine can remove the need for technical expert ise:
installing an externally-hosted search engine typicallyrequires simp ly co mpleting a Web    installing an externally-hosted search engine typicallyrequires simp ly co mpleting a Web
form and then adding some HTM L code to your Web site. However this ease-of-use has          form and then adding some HTM L code to your Web site. However this ease-of-use has
its disadvantages: typically you will lose the control over the resources to be indexed,     its disadvantages: typically you will lose the control over the resources to be indexed,
the indexing frequency, the user interfaces, etc. In addition there is the dependency on a   the indexing frequency, the user interfaces, etc. In addition there is the dependency on a
third party, and the danges of a loss of service if the organisation changes its usage       third party, and the danges of a loss of service if the organisation changes its usage
conditions, goes out of business, etc.                                                       conditions, goes out of business, etc.

Trends                                                                                       Trends
Surveys of search facilities used on UK Un iversity Web sites have been carried out          Surveys of search facilities used on UK Un iversity Web sites have been carried out
since 1998 [6]. Th is provides information not only on the search engines tools used, but    since 1998 [6]. Th is provides information not only on the search engines tools used, but
also to spot trends.                                                                         also to spot trends.
Since the surveys began the most widely used tool has been ht://Dig – an open source         Since the surveys began the most widely used tool has been ht://Dig – an open source
product. In recent years the licensed product Inktomi has shown a growth in usage.           product. In recent years the licensed product Inktomi has shown a growth in usage.
Interestingly, use of home-grown software and specialist products has decreased -            Interestingly, use of home-grown software and specialist products has decreased -
search engine software appears now to be a commodity product.                                search engine software appears now to be a commodity product.
Another interesting trend appears to be in the provision of two search facilities; a         Another interesting trend appears to be in the provision of two search facilities; a
locally-hosted search engine and a remote one – e.g. see the University of Lancaster [7].    locally-hosted search engine and a remote one – e.g. see the University of Lancaster [7].

References                                                                                   References
1 ht://Dig, <http://www.htdig.org/>                                                          1 ht://Dig, <http://www.htdig.org/>
2 Inktomi, <http://www.inkto mi.co m/>                                                       2 Inktomi, <http://www.inkto mi.co m/>
3 Google, <http://services.google.com/googleuniv/login>                                      3 Google, <http://services.google.com/googleuniv/login>
4 Atomz, <http://www.ato mz.co m/>                                                           4 Atomz, <http://www.ato mz.co m/>
5 FreeFind <http://www.freefind.co m/>                                                       5 FreeFind <http://www.freefind.co m/>
6 Surveys of Search Engines on UK Uni versity Web Sites ,                                    6 Surveys of Search Engines on UK Uni versity Web Sites ,
  <http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/web-focus/surveys/uk-he-search-engines/>                             <http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/web-focus/surveys/uk-he-search-engines/>
7 Uni versity of Lancaster Search Page,                                                      7 Uni versity of Lancaster Search Page,
  <http://www.lancs.ac.uk/search.htm>                                                          <http://www.lancs.ac.uk/search.htm>



For further information on QA Focus see <http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/qa-focus/>                   For further information on QA Focus see <http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/qa-focus/>

				
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