Saturday, August 4, 2012

Custom Search Engine improvements

Google have announced version 2 of the "custom search element" - this is the "thing" that lets you put a custom-search tool in your blog (and any other website).

Important features are:
  • Search UI is rendered based on the settings stored on the Google CSE servers ... any configuration changes you make in the CSE control panel ...[are shown]  on your web pages the next time they reload. ...
  • All element code is loaded asynchronously for reduced page load times.
  • Client-side customization allows you to overwrite global CSE settings on a per-page basis ...

Faster load time is very welcome - I've been noticing that custom search gadgets take a long time to load, relative to other things on my blogs.

And the first feature seems very handy - it means not having to copy-and-paste new CSE code whenever you change a CSE using the control panel. But this has a price: the existing code (in the best option for Bloggers) had two parts - one for where the seach box goes, and one for where the search results go. In the new code, there are still these two parts, but each one has two sections: one section that needs to be added to the header and one to the place (usually a widget for Bloggers). That means:
  • Four separate pieces of code to install
  • Installing means editing the template as well as adding a gadget
  • If you change your template, you need to remember to re-install the CSE code too. 

That said, I'm not sure if the first code sections need to go into the header, or whether they could beside the other parts, perhaps with a loss of speed - any advice is welcome.

Lastly, Google says that the existing CSE code will continue to be supported for now (although there's no way to get it from them any more, they are now only supplying the updated code) - but that this won't last forever.   So sooner or later, you will need to update any custom-search(es) on your blog.

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