With the rapid proliferation of WWW databases surprise that efforts have been made to consolidate them into a single search interface. CUSI (Configurable Unified Search Index) are services that allow the user to select from a menu the databases they wish to search. Usually, the search statement needs to be entered only once. With CUSI, only one database can be searched at a time. With SUSI, it's possible to search several databases simultaneously, much like DIALOG's OneSearch.
Although CUSI started as a project of Martijn Koster's at NEXOR, several CUSI-and SUSI-like services have appeared The services listed below provide access not only to many WWW databases, but also to other Internet indexes such as veronica, the WAIS Directory of Servers, software archives such as ArchiPlex and the Mac Software Catalog, email address directories such as X.500, full-text searches of sources such as the CIA Factbook and Usenet FAQs, and reference Lyorks such as dictionaries and thesauri. The user can enter a search statement, select the databases to search, and see a list of results with links to the sources (See accompanying figure).
There are several drawbacks to using CUSI and SUSI. Response time is slower than searching an individual database, and with SUSI, there are serious implications in terms of Internet traffic
. Most interfaces allow the user to enter the maximum time to wait for results. Some CUSI and SUSI interfaces do not indicate if a particular database is down. The response simply shows that the search produced no results. Finally, the full range of search features supported by individual databases, such as using the AND operator or selecting specific fields to search, are generally unavailable with CUSI and SUSI.
CUSI and SUSI can be convenient for executing a number of searches across several different Internet databases or for searches in which very few hits are anticipated. For most WWW searches, however, we recommend using one or more of the major WWW databases. …