OpenSearch Update

I’ve been fairly busy at Microsoft, working, and hanging out with other interns and so I’m way behind on blogging about OpenSearch.

Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 and Firefox Bon Echo are out, both with some degree of OpenSearch support. Both support autodiscovery of Description files. IE7 (not sure about Firefox) supports search results in OpenSearch Response (RSS/Atom) as well as HTML. IE7 (and I suspect Firefox) do not support extended search parameters (those beyond searchTerms, startPage, etc.), but that’s to be expected at this stage.

Firefox support is a little odd, in that they also support some odd pseudoOpenSearch format. So please, developers, use real OpenSearch, it’ll work equally well in all readers, not just Firefox.

Firefox’s beta also has support for “search suggestions” when using Google or Yahoo. DeWitt has shown how (see draft document) these suggestions can be implemented in a way that is completely compatible with OpenSearch, without changing the existing format (JSON) at all. And it also opens the door to allowing suggestions themselves in OpenSearch; the Query element is ideal for this purpose.

From a webmaster perspective, the OpenSearch referrer extension (draft) is really great, allowing search sites to see where their searches are coming from. I’ve wanted this for a while, and it’s great to see it happening.

Perhaps more interesting than any of this is moving forward on adding structured data into OpenSearch, and DeWitt’s draft OpenSearch and Microformats is a great step in that direction. Personally I like data to be in XML more directly (rather than embedding it within atom:content, for example), but hopefully that approach can work in tandem, still using microformats. I’ll be looking into it, as I unofficially advise my university on how to create an API for their people search. Others have been looking at this too.

These are just some of the major happenings in OpenSearch. There are a variety of new software libraries, such as in Java and Ruby. An increasing number of organizations are basing their APIs and other things on OpenSearch.’s listing of OpenSearch providers is now well over 300. It’s hard to believe how far OpenSearch has come and how far it looks like it may go.

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4 Responses to OpenSearch Update

  1. has a reasonably large list of OpenSearch description files along with the ability to add searches to either IE7 or Firefox 2. End Users can easily add their own searches without having to wait for a developer to create an XML file.

  2. mfagan says:

    I hope it has a means for replacing unofficial ones with official ones once they become available.

  3. That’s an interesting point about being able to replace the unofficial searches… I’ll have to give that some thought.

  4. Pingback: OpenSearch Progress «

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