Magazine article Online

Internet "Onesearch" with the Mega Search Engines

Magazine article Online

Internet "Onesearch" with the Mega Search Engines

Article excerpt

The introduction of DIALOG's OneSearch was hailed in the online community as a major step forward in online searching. The ability to search multiple databases simultaneously greatly simplifies the search process and saves both time and money. The duplicate removal (RD) command made OneSearch even more effective. DataStar, today a sister Knight-Ridder Information Inc. company, approached multiple database searching and duplicate detection in a different fashion. While DIALOG OneSearch operates in a seemingly simultaneous mode, in response to a single search request, DataStar's StarSearch uses a sequential approach, requiring multiple and sequential database selections to show results. Both approaches produce fast, accurate results from their structured and growing databases.

Enter the Internet. Along with the phenomenal growth in Internet resources came Internet search engines that automatically comb the Web, indexing resources. Alta Vista, InfoSeek, HotBot, and Magellan have become common names among information seekers. Each has a different method for searching and a different database of resources. Unique records can be identified using each of the major Internet finding aids.

So, is there something like DIALOG's OneSearch or DataStar's StarSearch capability on the Net? Since none of the search engines is comprehensive, why not search them all at once? Sure enough, numerous sites have tackled the task of creating a mega search page for searching multiple search engines. These "all-in-one" pages include sites such as the All-in-One page, MetaCrawler, SavvySearch, and more.

Like the search engines themselves, these multiple database searches each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Since each search engine uses different techniques and there is no commonly accepted way of performing even such basic functions as a Boolean AND, these all-in-one approaches can lead to some unexpected --even inaccurate--results. A second disadvantage is that, by reaching out to multiple, and often very busy, services, they can be rather slow.

MEGA SEARCHERS EXPLAINED

So what exactly are these mega search services? First, they do not create their own databases; rather, they rely on databases gathered by other Internet search engines, such as Alta Vista, HotBot, and Infoseek. Instead of building their own database, they provide a search interface for submitting queries to multiple finding aids. To achieve this, the mega search engines use one of two approaches.

Some list search engines and provide a form for each. This all-in-one approach, used by All-in-One and Beaucoup, enables a sequential search, where the user can run one search engine after another. In the second approach, used by the likes of SavvySearch and MetaCrawler, a single search form is used to simultaneously send a search request to multiple search engines.

THE ALL-IN-ONE APPROACH

The all-in-one mode is one of the most popular ways to combine access to multiple search engines from a single page. Most search engines use a form to submit the search, and that part of their page can be replicated easily on another page. For anyone with the requisite knowledge of HTML, it becomes fairly simple to create a single page that has search forms from multiple search engines. The All-in-One Search Page, at http://www.albany.net/allinone/, is probably the quintessential example of this method. All-in-One includes multiple categories of search tools, not just Internet search engines. Other categories of search tools on the All-in-One site include people, software, and technical reports. The intent is to present a "consistent interface and convenient All-in-One search point."

Choose the World Wide Web category and All-in-One presents an alphabetical list of Web search engines with their own search form right beneath each one. The list includes well-known tools such as Alta Vista, HotBot, Lycos, and InfoSeek, along with less well-known Web indexes such as RBSE's URL Database, Mesch, and Ahoy! …

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