Creating Customized Search Plug-ins for Firefox or IE7+

Some folks may need to search some of their “special-interest” sites. Me being a World of Warcraft fanatic, I’m talking about sites like Thottbot, Wow-armoury etc.

Till now, the options for that special search were thus:
1. Visit the site you want to look-up and then search
2. Google and then rifle thru the results looking for that one site
3. For the more geeky ones, Google with a difference, by prefixing the query with a site:the-special interests-site.com.

Most browsers today come with their default set of search plug-ins – usually located at the top-right. Mostly common are Google, Yahoo!, Live, Answer.com, Dictionary yada yada.
However, not all of these browsers allow you to configure a new Search plug-in easily.

Opera is by far the best amongst the rest – a very easy interface provided within the browser. Just click Add/Edit, enter the search site’s URL, enter the search query formatting that site accepts (this *could* get tricky for some search sites), give your creation a name and say OK. You won’t even have to restart the browser and the new Search will be available to choose from the dropdown of search plug-ins available.

Chrome, in my opinion, comes in 2nd. It wins with an Easier-than-Opera interface to Add/Edit a new Search Plug-in. Where it fails to lead is in fact that to change the search engine, you have to go back to the Add/Edit dialog to choose the search engine. Google, are you listening? :(

Firefox fares worse followed by IE7 – No UI to customize a Search Plug-in!
Firefox redeems itself minimally by allowing you to add a search plug-in from the Mozilla Addons repository; but no real customization. :(

But we do have a solution… and it comes for 2 sites that I’ve found. The sites are: Ready2Search and SearchPlugins and the solution is get the plug-in generated online. :)

Ready2Search has a very simple UI. The screenshot is me creating a plug-in for Thottbot.com. Click “Make Plug-in” and install.

SearchPlugins also has a similar interface, but it allows uploading a fav-icon too – you can simply know which engine you are using by the icon!

I did this on my Firefox and its working great.

Note the TEST I wrote in Search URL. This is needed for the site to identify where to place the search query!

Also note after clicking “create plug-in” button, click the small Install link on the new page.

The sites:
ready2search-screenshot

generateplugins-screenshot

generateplugins2-screenshot

My Thottbot Search:
thotbot-search-screenshot

Happy Custom-Searching :)

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