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Creating Customized Search Plugins for Firefox

***This is for versions of Firefox prior to version 2. This method will not work with version 2 of Firefox. A tutorial for Firefox version 2 can be found here.***

This is a tutorial for creating a customized search plugin for Firefox. The search plugins are the search engines in the upper right corner of Firefox. Just by entering in some text, and switching it to the correct search engine and hitting the Enter key, you can get the results of that search instantly. By default, Firefox comes with some already installed and others can be installed also, but what do you do if there's not one for a website you use a lot? Simple, make your own!

I can't promise this method will work 100% of the time. You are at the discretion of the code that the website is using. If it doesn't work, keep tweaking it to see if it will.


Walkthrough
Make sure you are using Firefox while going through this tutorial for best results!

In this tutorial, I will walk you through making a search plugin for the website www.cduniverse.com This site has lots of CDs and lots of information on those CDs. Click the link above to open the website.

What we are looking for on this page is the search box, seen here...

The information that search box takes and processes to the next page is what we need to make this search plugin work. Right-click anywhere on the page and select View Page Source. A new window will open up with code.

Now we need to find the specifics of that search box. Hold Control and hit the F key to bring up the find box on the bottom of the window.

In the find box, type in "input name" or "input" without the quotes. It will take you to the information we need.

In this example, the code shows "input name="HT_Search_Info". We need the "HT_Search_Info" part. The other information we need should be above this line of code. Look for "form" or "form action".

In the code, the form action shows the page that will return the search results. In this example it is "http://www.cduniverse.com/sresult.asp". Those should be the only two pieces of information we need from here.

Now we need to create the search engine plugin file. I've made a template to use to get you started, download it here. Copy this text and paste it in a Notepad window. Before we change anything, let's save it to the correct format to the correct folder.

Click File, Save As..., and navigate to the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins

Save it under an easy to remember name, preferably one word, no spaces with a ".src" after it. Make sure you change the "Save as type" to "All files". Once that is saved we can edit it. I saved mine as "cduniverse.src".

Inside this file, there is just a few things to edit.

On the top of the page, in the "search" section, you will see a line that reads "name". This is what you will see as the name of it when listed with the other search engines. Change this to the name of the website, or whatever you wish.

Below that you see a "description" section. This just describes what it is, put whatever you like here.

Now below that you will see a "action" section. This is where you input the web address of the action the page's search does. Earlier in the tutorial, we learned this address was "http://www.cduniverse.com/sresult.asp". Input that into the action field. TIP-Some websites require a forwardslash "/ " following the website address. If it doesn't work the first time, try putting one in after the address.

Below that is a "searchform" section. You can put in the websites main address here, like "http://www.cduniverse.com".

The last thing we need to add is below in the "input name" field. In my template, you will see TWO input name fields. The one that reads "INPUT NAME=sourceid" should stay there so leave it alone. The other one is the one that needs editing. For the "input name" section, type in the name of the field that the website is using. We found this information before, and it was "HT_Search_Info".

Once that is done you can also change the comments section on the top, where the # signs are, if you wish. Make sure you save changes.

The last thing to do it make an icon for this new engine! What I usually do is take a screenshot of the webpage, cut out the logo or name or whatever, trim it down and save it. Then I resize that image to the dimensions of 16 x 16 and save it as a .PNG file with the same name of the .SRC file in the same folder. Here is the one I created for cduniverse...

Now that all this is saved, it must be tested! First close ALL firefox windows. Then reopen firefox. In the upper right corner, click the down arrow to see all your search engines. You should see the new one you created here. Select the one you created, type in something to search for and hit the Enter key. If everything works, the next webpage that should come up is the actual search results on the webpage you made it for. If it doesn't work, go back to the .src code and try to find your mistake. Like I said before, usually this whole process is pretty simple, but every website is coded differently and they may not be using the traditional "form" and "input" fields, so it might be a lot more complicated or impossible to do by using this method.


Conclusion
Now that you got one search engine plugin up and running, do the same steps to make additional ones. If you wanted to share these with a friend, you just need to pass on those two files, the .src and .png files. Make sure they are saved in the "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins" folder.

Copyright 2005 djdingo All Rig

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Mozilla Firefox

This page last updated:
Wednesday, November 8, 2006