Tinkering With Mycroft

Of late I have been tinkering with Mycroft, which is the search bar widget used by Firefox and the Mozilla / Netscape suites. I have discovered a couple of cool things that I’d like to share with you.

First up, you can delete unwanted search plugins. There’s no GUI for this, but it’s very easy.

And next, you can make your own plugins using a simple SGML markup derived from Apple Sherlock. The documentation for this is here. It looks a bit intimidating but it’s actually no more difficult than writing HTML (and there’s a great validator tool at Mindzilla). If you want to support people using a Moz or Netscape suite, or Firefox with the Search Sidebar extension, you’ll need to read up on the Mycroft sidebar documentation.

The great thing about rolling your own plugin is you can set the search defaults. For example, I like to shop for DJ records at the Juno Records website. Since I mainly buy drum n bass, I have written a plugin that restricts its search to the drum n bass section (as well as a genre agnostic search that I hope Mozilla will one day get around to uploading).

In the meantime you can download the Juno d n b plugin or the full Juno search plugin by clicking on some of the words you have just read.

To install them, find you browser search plugin directory (on Firefox for Win32, it’s Program Files/Mozilla Firefox/searchplugins) and unzip the supplied archive into it. Feel free to play around with the code while you’re at it; it’s all plain text, and the <input> name attributes correspond to the target search engine’s <input> elements.

Update: Here’s one for the Chemical Records d n b section.

Update: If you want users to be able to install your plugin by clicking a link, there’s a JavaScript addSearchEngine() method.

Update: Here’s one for Board Game Geek (my favourite site of late), provided by Andrew Avella of Avella Studios, NY.

Update: Some enterprising soul has written a delete GUI for Mycroft plugins.

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  1. Red Wolf

    11 March 2005 at 10.10 pm

    Thanks to that informative write up, I’ve had a crack at rolling my own.
    Get Once Australia; Books Search by Author, Book Search by Title and DVD Search.
    And one I’ve been after for a while; Google News Australia.
    I might actually take a crack at some for this site later on. Yay!


  2. sbszine

    14 March 2005 at 9.58 am

    Nice work… you should submit these to Mozilla.


  3. Red Wolf

    14 March 2005 at 11.02 am

    Have submitted them, but Mycroft has a backlog of several thousand submissions, so I won’t be holding my breath. I made a heap more after this too, in response to requests, but I epect they’ll also get lost in the system


  4. Red Wolf

    20 April 2005 at 8.31 pm

    Someone at Mycroft got jack of the backlog and has added a public judging button to all plugins. A large chunk of the new plugins have been released as untested. When enough people have declared that they work, they’ll be marked tested or deleted if they get marked as failed.
    A couple of mine are in the system, none of the one’s previously listed, but I couldn’t see Phil’s


  5. sbszine

    21 April 2005 at 2.36 pm

    I’ve judged yr plugins favourably, so hopefully they’ll materialise soon. Still no sign of my Juno plugin, sadly.


  6. Red Wolf

    21 April 2005 at 3.14 pm

    As only some of mine have shown, it’s difficult to tell if they are getting added in batches (the newer ones have appeared, but not the older ones) or the older ones got eaten. While a couple of mine have been checked off on the request list, others that have been added haven’t. There’s a Metal Archive one from the request list that isn’t checked off.
    One of the UK medical searches should work, but I can’t test it as I don’t have an account on the server. It will probably only be of use to the bloke who requested it. I hope he’s suitably delirious that it appeared.
    I’ve done three for the blogs on this domain, but they haven’t been released into the wild. If you want them, I’ll e-mail them. Surprisingly handy. Did one for Feòrag’s Pagan Prattle too, but only shared it with her.
    Leave it a week to see if they make an appearance, then resubmit, I guess


  7. sbszine

    21 April 2005 at 3.36 pm

    Would you be interested in putting an installer script on this site? Then people can install them without a reboot. Dunno whether making them all public is a good idea or not, but it should be fine for Google News etc.


  8. Red Wolf

    21 April 2005 at 3.50 pm

    I might hold off for the week and see how Mycroft handles everything first. The sudden flurry of activity is promising. If nothing comes of it by then, add yours with the install script and I’ll add mine too.
    The Google News Australia one is so useful


  9. sbszine

    27 April 2005 at 10.17 am

    Hey, your BNF one has gone live now. CDC is still in the untested plugins though.
    Still no sign of my fine plugin : (


  10. Red Wolf

    27 April 2005 at 10.44 am

    BNF was there, as was the CDC one. The Metal Archives one has been linked back to the request list, but somebody else got the DIYNET one first. Still no sign of my Google News AU or Get Once plugins or yours, but BoardGameGeek has appeared. Looks like new plugins are slowly filtering through the system


  11. Red Wolf

    4 May 2005 at 4.28 pm

    The Google News AU, Get Once, Sanity and HMV plugins have gone live. No sign of yours yet, but a Juno request is on the list


  12. Red Wolf

    10 June 2005 at 8.49 am

    W00t! Your Juno plugin made it into Mycroft


  13. sbszine

    14 June 2005 at 7.00 pm

    Finally! w00t indeed!


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