Do You Want A Searchable Database?

     This question is asked time and time again, "How do I set up a searchable database?" There are actually a few different ways -- some are harder than others. Here's a quick look at one easy way..

Search Someone Else's Database

     Ever been into a page and the author invites you to search Yahoo or Webcrawler right from his or her own page? You think this person must be pretty high up the ladder to be able to pull off this kind of deal. Not really -- anyone can do it. Here's an example:

Search Excite Here:

Search Webcrawler Here:

Search Yahoo Here:

     Go ahead, enter a word -- nothing dirty, mind you! The results of your search will be returned straightaway.

...waiting ...waiting ...waiting

     Ah, good. You're back. Neat, huh? Actually, I lied above (and I may lie down below). The BHS site didn't perform any of the searches. They were done by Yahoo, Webcrawler, or Excite, depending on which one you chose. I just initiated the search. When you got your results, did you notice that you were no longer in Kansas, or Texas for that matter, any more? You were at the site of the search engine you chose.

How I Did It

     Let's look at the code used to create the Yahoo search above:

<form action="">
<input size=30 name=p>
<input type=submit value="Search">

     Notice it's a simple set of form commands, set up much like you would to create a link button or a simple mailto: guestbook. However, in this case you are using the form to send the information contained within the text box to a search engine. That's what you call the actual program that searches the Yahoo database, a "search engine." In the example up above, you are sending the info to Yahoo's CGI bin to be worked on by something called "search."

     Here are the Webcrawler and Excite lines from above:

<FORM NAME="wcsearchform" ACTION="" METHOD="GET">

<FORM NAME="search" ACTION="" METHOD="get">

     Notice they also sent the output of the text box to a search engine. One goes to something called "WebQuery" and the other goes to "" Once the data is sent to the search engine, then the site's database is searched and you get your results.
     But note again that you do not use this site to search -- you only send the information from this site. Once that's done, BHS is totally out of the picture and you're at the search engine's site.

     Once more thing... Notice the "METHOD" in the two above, and the name="p" in the Yahoo search above? Those are little items that each search engine uses to denote how to manipulate the data it receives and what to name the output sent through the text box. Each search engine will work differently and you must make sure you use the search engine's format, exactly, on your page.

Where Do I Get The Format

     Right from the search engine itself. It's not that tough. Go to the search engine site and look at the source code. It's written right there. Just grab the part that starts the form through the /form. Now, you may need to knock out some stuff in the middle, like extra text or table commands, but it's all right there. Then put it on your page.
     One thing though, you may notice when you get the code that the ACTION section does not include the entire address to the search engine. That's because it didn't need it when it was on their site. Now it's on your site and it needs it. Add the full address before the search stuff. Without it, the data looks for something on your site that will do the search. No dice... errors all over the place.

How Many Search Engines Are There

     Tons. Now wait... yes. Tons. Here are few of the biggies:

[Alta Vista] [Apollo] [Bizwiz] [ComFind] [Excite] [The Web Magazine] [Pronett] [HotBot] [Infoseek] [Lycos] [Nerd World Media] [LinkStar] [Mallpark] [WebCrawler] [ImageSurfer] [AAA Matilda] [What's New Too!] [DejaNews] [WebDirect!] [Yellow Pages Online]

Here are some pages with multiple search engines....

[More] [Dr. Webster's Big Page of Search Engines] [Beaucoup Search Engines] []