OpenSearch was originally conceived by Amazon’s search subsidiary A9 and announced to the world by none other than Jeff Bezos in March 2005. It was designed as a specification to allow websites to syndicate their search capability, allowing web browsers and even other websites to link directly to the syndicating website’s search results pages.
While OpenSearch didn’t exactly light the world on fire, browser vendors soon embraced it as a way to let users configure their search providers and it continues to be widely supported today. While recent trends in browser UI - specifically the move towards a combination search/location “omnibox” - have in some ways decreased the efficacy of OpenSearch, it is still an interesting option to explore for furthering the reach of a website into the user’s computing environment.
OpenSearch went through a series of refinements early on, quickly evolving from basic auto-discovery of search capability (through a referenced XML file) to supporting search suggestions, a convention by which search engines can suggest search queries as you’re typing (often to interesting effect).
It occurred to me with Domize that instead of offering suggestions through OpenSearch (which, in its basic form, Domize has supported since launching 4 years ago), Domize could offer actual results through the suggested search interface, showing the availability of a domain name as you type.
Unfortunately Safari doesn’t support OpenSearch so we’re restricted to Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome. Happily, all these browsers support suggestions. Here’s how they look on Firefox and Chrome, using this new concept:
To install: Visit Domize, click the search drop-down and add Domize as a search engine. With Domize selected you can then perform lookups.
Chrome will automatically detect Domize’s OpenSearch capability after visiting the site. From then on just type “domize.com” (Chrome will probably guess it after a few keystrokes), and hit tab - you’re now searching Domize with OpenSearch. Chrome only displays the first four suggestions, however.
As you can see above, instead of standard text suggestions we’re returning a list of suggestions showing availability (with a tick or cross, thanks to unicode) and price. If you select one of these suggestions this whole string will be sent to Domize’s search page. We detect this kind of augmented query and trim the start and end, returning the results page for that domain name!
I think there could be some intriguing uses for Search Suggestions. If you consider the search string you type could be a sequence of characters each changing application state and displaying a different list of suggestions depending on previous suggestions you can imaging you could build a multiple choice quiz app or even a remote shell, with commands terminated by semi-colons. The possibilities are endless.