Making a search feature - how?

  gplatt2000 14:55 22 Nov 03

Hi there! Please also see my other post click here as these topics are related.

Basically, I would like to know how to make a search feature for a site, where users can choose search criteria (eg. product type), and key words. Any suggestions much appreciated,

Thanks in advance, Gavin

  Taran 15:20 22 Nov 03

I'd need to know more about your site hosting package and your web authoring software to best advise.

FrontPage has a built in site search feature using an extension.

You could use any one of several alterntive methods; CGI/Perl script, PHP, ASP, even JavaScript, but there are pros and cons to all methods.

It would help a lot to know the type of hosting account you have, whether it features PHP/MySQL support, ASP support or if you are allowed to run custom CGI scripts.

For a truly useful and usable product search form you will have to get into a database of some description at some point. Keeping an online database of your products, (name, type, category, number in stock, cost per item etc.,) allows you to query that database using one or more forms and your clients can find out what you have and how much it costs, product specification and whatnot.

This is right about where most people call in a professional web application developer though. It may not be rocket science but unless you already have a reasonable knowledge of database design and implementation coupled with some indepth understanding of web scripting language(s) and syntax, you're likely to become horribly bogged down.

Happily for you there are some kind souls out there who offer their code for your own use and you install and configure it on your web.

If you let us know whether your account has any dynamic content support (as mentioned above) one of us will advise further.



  gplatt2000 15:24 22 Nov 03

THanks a lot for your reply. I use Dremweveaver MX, and as yet do not have hosting as I was waiting until the site is complete. So I'm not yet certain about hosting, someone on here posted abou a plce called click here, who seem very good value to me. Thanks again for your help, Gavin

  gplatt2000 15:25 22 Nov 03

Webmania says:

500MB of disk space
6GB of data transfer per month
Frontpage extensions version 2002
Unlimited POP3 [email protected]
Unlimited mail forwarding [email protected]
Email is filtered for Spam and Viruses.
Unlimited subdomains of your domain name
e.g. click here
CGI-BIN directory
Control Panel
Perl 5
SSI (server side includes)
MySQL Database
phpMyAdmin for MySQL management
Full Telnet / SSH access
Full FTP access
Detailed visitor statistics
Close control downflow air conditioning units.
UPS system and Generator back-up

  Taran 15:42 22 Nov 03

I can't comment on Webmania - I have no experience with them.

If you have PHP/MySQL support you can use any one of a number of Open Source solutions that will need a bit of tweaking from you. You will also need to develop an overpowering interest in PHP and MySQL or you're likely to come unstuck quite rapidly.

click here for an article on creating a PHP/MySQL website search engine.

In fact, that same site has more features and articles than you could shake a stick at about PHP, including handling e-commerce, product databases and similar issues.

You'll rapidly find that you either don't mind spending the time to become a geek of one level or another, or you will appreciate the value of several hundred pounds well spend on a third party program that does most of the work for you. The expensive part about product searches integrating into client orders is secure online payment and banking.


  Taran 15:51 22 Nov 03

click here for one of the fastest site searche engines I've seen to date that is free for use under Open Source licensing.

An alternative that offers good results but is not as easy to install and configure is click here

If you're feeling adventurous and want to delve into the murky depths of the evil that is Perl/CGI scripting click here


click here

The likes of Atomz click here is probably far too much overkill.

Bravenet, if you sign up with them as a host and get their tools package, offer a site search script click here

Aside from that, use Google and you'll get more results than you know whwat to do with when you ask the search engine to search for a search engine. Or something like that...


  gplatt2000 16:25 22 Nov 03

Thanks again for your reply. SO just to clarify (as I am completely new to this thing) - the 1st option is a free program, which lets viewers search MY site for tings in it - eg they could search for 'Clubs' in a subsction which they have chosen called 'Oxfordhire' or similar? ie. can they search for keywords and criteria on my site?? Sorry to bother you again, It's just that Im do take a long time to take tings in! :D
Thanks again, Gavin

  Taran 16:37 22 Nov 03

Yes, it is free for your use but any PHP application is likely to bring you out in a sweat if you've never coded PHP before. It searches an indez of your site.

Some of these apps create a site index document (basically a text file of all the bits of text from every page on your site) and they scan it and offer the results of that search in relation to the page(s) the search result is on.

Other search apps scan the actual pages of your site, and this in itself can prove problematic if your pages are generated to begin with using PHP script. You're OK if you intend using plain vanilla HTML pages for this kind of search, but if you ever get into serving your pages from a database of site contents then your search engine will need to be able to search the database itself.

The quick and easy method is to get yourself a copy of FrontPage and use it to design your site. FrontPage has a useful and reasonably effective search engine built in that will search your site pages for keywords. As long as your web host supports FrontPage extensions you can use this feature. Likewise, FrontPage can also use another of its extensions to create your various feedback, order and enquiry forms. It's an excellent program for this kind of site, so you could be well advised to get yourself a copy.

Dreamweaver is superb but for form handling, site searches and so on it assumes that you will be programming the web applications yourself.

FrontPage makes the assumption that you'd far rather get on with designing and publishing your site, so it includes lots of form handling, site searches, button hover and rollovers and all kinds of other nice thngs as part of its army of extension driven effects.


  Taran 16:42 22 Nov 03

"an indez of your site" ?

My apologies for the atrocious spelling...

  gplatt2000 21:24 22 Nov 03

THanks again Taran for your excellent help, and dont worry about your spelling Im twice as bad - as long as I can jus about work out what you mean its ok! WEll yeah although I use Dreawever to design my site, I do have FrontPage installed from Office, si I'll use this to ake the forms/search. Thanks again for all your great info, much appreciated (and needed!). THanks once more


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