Monthly Archive for September, 2008

The Search Box

I’ve been a fan of Google Suggest since I first saw it – and I think that the news that it will now become the default experience for all Google searches is very significant because it will change everyone’s expectations of what should happen when they start typing into a search box everywhere:

Of course several search boxes already do this kind of thing (the search box & ‘awesome bar’ in Firefox 3, the ‘omnibox’ in Google Chrome) but I believe that its use will become widespread not just for web based searching but also within desktop applications.

In 2005 just after Google Suggest came out I implemented my own version of it – it doesn’t take much to get the basics right – you just need a reverse index. A bit more work and some stats can help eliminate common ‘stop words’ & give spelling suggestions; some further work and you can index two or three word phrases. Some of this stuff ended up in a desktop product in my day job.

Of course in a disconnected desktop product one doesn’t have the huge amount of statistical information on what is searched for & clicked on, but to get a simple version of ‘suggest’ up and running can be quite quick and gives the user real tangible benefits.

The search box _should_ never be the same again…