Google, RSLs and indexing

A while back I posted an article on Google giving errors with indexing SWF files that used the RSL framework feature to reduce the overall size of your SWF. It seemed to me very odd that you have Adobe trying to push the use of RSL’s as well as bumming up the great work that they’ve done with Google to index SWFs but not mentioning that fact that Google couldn’t index a SWF with an RSL. This lead people to see errors when they tried to find their app in a Google search.  See this for details http://kennethsutherland.com/2009/04/27/google-and-swfs/

Anyway good news, finally Google can index SWF files with external resources.  This news came out a few days back, but due to my blog needing fixed (it was breaking FF – wordpresses fault:( ) and other things going on blah blah…

Well here is the annoucement from Google – http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/06/flash-indexing-with-external-resource.html I have yet to try this out, but if it works as it say it does then great. another bonus for using Flex.

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A – Z, custom search to firefox plugin

So you may have read my previous posts on the custom search that I created, well as suggested in a previous comment the information to create one then turn it into a open search search plugin and then into a firefox plugin is out there.  It’s just not all in the same place.

So I’m going to go through the process and try to make clear each step of the way. Here is what I’m going to cover.

  1. Create the custom search (hosted by Google)
  2. Take new custom search and insert into wordpress
  3. Create a OpenSearch plugin from code that’s compatible with the majority of browsers
  4. Turn OpenSearch plugin into a firefox plugin so that you can list it under firefoxes search plugins
  5. Make the browser automatically pick up the openSearch plugin to show user you have plugin available

So first you need to create the search.

1, Create Google custom search.

For this (AFAIK) you need a Google account and you then need to get a adSense account set up.  This is how I found the custom search as it is part of the options on the general screen.  I kind of expect that this option to create a custom search will be available elsewhere on the Google site but this is where I found it.

Once you go through the wizard that Google gives you, you get a choice.  I’ve gone with opening the result inside Google.  If you choose the last option then the end result will mean that you will get two bits of code to insert into your wordpress site. If this is the case then I’d have a look at a wordpress plugin to deal with the code. There are a few out there, but they may or may not work depending on your theme that you have.

 

I choose the hosted on Google option because – 1, should it (the search) be popular then it will not increase my bandwidth usage and 2, it makes it more offical if its hosted on a  google URL (just my opinion).

You should now have some code from Google, something along the following lines

<form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box">
  <div>
    <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-7396620608505330:xjbbr6-w0cu" />
    <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1" />
    <input type="text" name="q" size="23" />
    <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search" />
 
  </div>
</form>
 
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en"></script>

 

2, Insert code into wordpress

Now that you have your code you will need to find the searchform.php file from your theme. Should be inside wp-content->themes->{your theme} -> searchform.php

Open up that file and insert the new code.

I didn’t do anything to the Google code, just pasted it above the standard wordpress code so I now have 2 searchs on my site, one for the ‘Flex collection’ and one for my site.

Thats it, part 2 done.

3, Create OpenSearch plugin

First you need to get a URL that you can use for your search. So either do a search after installing your search in your wordpress blog or look at the code and put it all together to create one.

For example if you do a search on my site for ‘pie charts’, this is the URL that you end up with http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-7396620608505330%3Axjbbr6-w0cu&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=pie+charts&sa=Search+-+Flex+Collection  

If you look at the above code from point 2 you’ll be able to see how its made up.

Now that you have a URL go to http://mycroft.mozdev.org/ and select to create a plugin.

Fill in all the boxes (they’re all pretty much self explanatory), but as an example the two main inputs that have to be correct are the ‘Search URL’ and the ‘Search Form URL’

Using the above URL, my ‘Search URL’ would be http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-7396620608505330%3Axjbbr6-w0cu&ie=ISO-8859-1&q={searchTerms}&sa=Search+-+Flex+Collection 

and the ‘Search Form URL’ would be http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-7396620608505330%3Axjbbr6-w0cu&ie=ISO-8859-1

Click ‘Generate Code’ then ‘Install Plugin’. Test the plugin and if all is good (copy the generated code), then submit plugin.

Take note of the URL that you can use to get at the plugin from mycroft.mozdev.org, you will need this for part 5.

4, Create firefox plugin

Take your code that you just copied from part 3 and save it to a XML file.

Open https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox

Login/register -> developers tools -> submit add-on.

Pick a licence, then it will ask you to upload a file. Upload the XML file that you just saved. Then its just a case of editing the appropriate sections and you are now done.

Do a quick search for your plugin and you can now get a URL such as https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/11823 and send this round friends etc to get some reviews. Once you have a few reviews you can submit your plugin to be made public.

Feel free to review my plugin, I need some reviews so that I can submit it.

Finally.

5, Make the browser pick up the openSearch plugin when your site is viewed


The above image shows what happens if a browser picks up that the site it is displaying has a custom search tool that can be installed. It highlights a small button beside the search box.
To do this I’ve placed the following code into the header file

<link rel="search" type="application/opensearchdescription+xml" title="Flex Collection" href="http://mycroft.mozdev.org/installos.php/30790/fx.xml"/>

Use the above but replace the href with whatever URL you saved from part 3 (the mycroft.mozdev link) and obviously replace the title with something relevant to your search.
Then place that line of code into the header.php for your theme (or somewhere that will always get served up on your site, I just choose the header as that seemed appropriate). Put it beside the other links if your header file has them otherwise just make sure it’s in the head tag.

That’s it.
Hope this is helpful.

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Flex, Firefox plug-in + community.

Following on from my recent post on creating a specific flex search using Google I wanted to make it easier to flick between the main Google search and the flex collection Google search.
Well I’ve created an OpenSearch plugin (supported by Firefox 2+, Internet Explorer 7+, etc) so I can now easily flick to a specifc flex search whenever I wish now.

 

google search

 

To use search plugin click here.

Community

I’d like it to contain as many helpful flex, AIR and flash sites as possible. I’m talking about sites that actually give you code hints, tips and samples without tonnes of text that get them up the page rankings without actually being of any real use.

Hopefully you’ll all like the search and find it useful.  I’d love it if this flex/AS/AIR search could be as comprehensive as possible.  It would help me (and others) when looking for appropriate information. (I know there are various aggregators out there but the search facilities on these sites aren’t normally great, but Google’s is — so go on, help me add to the list to make it better for everyone 🙂 )

Current List

http://blog.everythingflex.com/
http://dougmccune.com/
http://flexbox.mrinalwadhwa.com/
http://onflash.org/ted/
http://www.mikechambers.com/
http://www.scalenine.com/
http://dougmccune.com/
http://www.darronschall.com/
http://algorithmist.wordpress.com/
http://www.moock.org/blog/
http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/communityengine/index.cfm?event=homepage&productId=2
http://actionscriptexamples.com/
http://blogs.adobe.com/air/
http://blogs.adobe.com/flex/
http://www.degrafa.org/
http://flexbox.mrinalwadhwa.com/
http://www.webkitchen.be/
http://blog.flexexamples.com/
http://www.kennethsutherland.com/
http://www.gskinner.com/blog/
http://www.gotoandlearn.com/
http://polygeek.com/

 

If there are any links that you particularly like then leave a message with the link.  If it’s got some good examples etc then I’ll add it to the list.

Cheers.

Additional sites:

http://www.insideria.com/
http://userflex.wordpress.com/
http://www.riaforge.org/
http://www.quietlyscheming.com/

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Flex Collection – Google search

Totally off topic this. But I had quite a bit of hassle trying to find info on how to do what I just did.

So if you look to your right you’ll see a nice search box with the Google brand inside it 🙂 Nothing special there you may think… well.

Well it’s a custom search box from Google, and I’ve customised it by adding all of my favourite and preferred flex, AIR, and flash sites. So should you need to search on anything related to the mentioned categories just use the search box to the right.

 

How its done

If you are interested in adding something similar to your blog or web page then there is very little information out there about Google’s custom search page. 

There seems to be 2 ways to add it to wordpress.

1)       Add it as a page within your site so that it retains your sites look and feel, in order to do this you can find a plugin for custom google search and depending on what theme you have have this may or may not work. I tried out http://aleembawany.com/projects/wordpress/google-custom-search-plugin/ which as it happens didn’t work with my theme.  But I wasn’t really trying to get it to work inside my site, I wanted the custom search to retain the Google style as that is what people are used to when using Google.

2)      Add it as a hosted Google custom search. Now on this method I found absolutely zero information (actually the info I did find on the wordpress site said it wasn’t possible).  Not to be put off by this info as anything seems to be possible with wordpress (I’m just learning it really, my blog is only a few weeks old), I decided to hunt through the various php files etc that come with wordpress.

The file that is required is searchform.php and this can be found inside the theme folder that you are using ( something like ‘wp-content/themes/{your theme folder}/searchform.php’)

Open up the file and inside that you should find some php and some html code (a form).  Replace the html code with the code that Google has given you for your custom search.  Or if you would like to have a search that just does Flex, AIR and flash sites then feel free just to use the following code.

 

<form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box">
  <div>
    <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-7396620608505330:xjbbr6-w0cu" />
    <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1" />
    <input type="text" name="q" size="23" />
    <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search" />
 
  </div>
</form>
<script src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en" 
type="text/javascript">
</script>

When the user searches in this form then it will look up just a list of sites that only contain information on Flex, AIR, actionscript & flash.

You can also bookmark the following link

http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-7396620608505330:xjbbr6-w0cu&ie=ISO-8859-1

This will link up to the specific Google search that I’ve set up just to look at relevant Flex, AS3, AIR & Flash sites.

 

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Google and SWFs

I recently checked out a page that was created using flexbuilder to see if it was indexed by Google and every time I checked it Googles results came up with

Error #2032. RSL Error 1 of 1.

I found virtually nothing out on the internet about this apart from a recent email or two on the flexcoders mail list. It turns out that Google will NOT index your SWF if you use an RSL to reduce the file size!

Now I try to keep up to date on as much flex as possible but I’ve never heard/read anyone say this before. All I’ve heard about it was great Google can now index SWFs, any SWFs and no mention of any exceptions.

I think this is a bit of a big thing, I always use the RSL feature to make my SWFs smaller with the one time hit of getting the framework RSL SWF so every SWF I’ve done will not be getting indexed by Google. As it happens the majority of the stuff I do is inside other pages that do get indexed or its not for public consumtion anyway, but that’s not the point. All info out there suggests Google will index any SWF, it will NOT.

So should you get an ‘Error #2032. RSL Error 1 of 1.’ when Google returns a search on your SWF then turn of the RSL feature. Google better sort this out before flex 4, as I think they’re going to turn on the RSL feature by default for flex 4.

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