[Internet Search Engine Update]

ONLINE, March 2001
Copyright © 2001 Information Today, Inc.

AltaVista introduced a middle path between its simple and advanced search. Originally called the Power Search, it provides a more extensive form that can make the powerful search features of the Advanced Search page available to users who do not know the special syntax required to use Advanced Search effectively. The new AltaVista Power Search page is similar to HotBot's Power Search page in terms of options and layout.

At first, the Power Search and a link to AltaVista's Raging Search were available in the left-hand navigation bar. However, shortly after the initial release of the Power Search, AltaVista modified the user interface so that the Power Search link is now placed below and to the right of the AltaVista search box with the label "More Search Options." The Raging Search link is also gone, although Raging Search continues to be available (http://ragingsearch.altavista.com).

Another change in the user interface is that the estimated number of search results found has been moved. It now appears at the top of the search box on a results page rather than at its former location at the top of the search results listing over by the right-hand margin.

Fast Search and Transfer has announced an agreement with Elsevier Science to create Scirus, a scientific search engine. Scheduled to be publicly available in March 2001, Scirus will include resources from both the publicly available Web and in proprietary scientific databases, such as Elsevier's.

Google has expanded and improved its Advanced Search page. It now offers form boxes for AND, OR, Phrase, and NOT operations under the labels "with all of the words," "with any of the words," "with the exact phrase," and "without the words." In addition, Google has finally added the ability to search for terms within the title element of Web pages and for terms within URLs. Both of these new field searches are available as separate boxes on the Advanced Search page. They are also available on the regular Google search box by using the unusual field syntax of allintitle: or allinurl: followed by the search terms. It is unfortunate that they did not use the far more common syntax of title: or url: as do AltaVista and the other major search engines that support title and URL field searching. Another problem with Google's implementation is that these field searches cannot be combined with other search terms. In other words, either all of the search terms must be in the title or URL or the search terms must just be general search terms.

HotBot, which used to support front, internal, and end truncation, appears to no longer support any truncation ability. While this may be just a short-term problem, the asterisk has failed to perform properly for several weeks, at the time of this writing. The Advanced Search continues to offer an option for Word Stemming, which when checked will look for alternate forms (plural, singular, and various tenses) of the search terms, but truncation does not work on Hotbot's Simple or Advanced search pages. At least one other Inktomi partner, iWon, does continue to provide truncation with the asterisk.

InfoSpace, which bought the metasearch engines MetaCrawler and Dogpile, has launched a redesign of the Dogpile metasearch engine. In addition, the search box on the main InfoSpace page defaults to a Dogpile search. However, results from searches entered into the InfoSpace search box are branded as an InfoSpace search (although they still include Dogpile in the URL and title on the results pages), and they can display a slightly different order than searches entered directly at Dogpile.

Northern Light has announced an alliance with Sirsi, the library online system vendor. Northern Light's Web searching capabilities will be integrated into Sirsi's iBistro Internet Access Center. Northern Light has also released its SinglePoint Enterprise Information Portal, which is a software product available for companies' portal and information management projects.

Greg R. Notess (greg@notess.com; http://www.notess.com) is a reference librarian at Montana State University.

Comments? Email letters to the Editor to marydee@infotoday.com.

[infotoday.com] [ONLINE] [Subscriptions] [Top]

Copyright © 2001, Information Today, Inc. All rights reserved.