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Firefox 3 Searches Alias (Related to Firefox 3 Smart Keywords)


Firefox 3 Searches Alias

* Short IntroductionThis alias allows you to reuse your Firefox "Smart Keyword" searches from within FARR.

For example, you might configure a Smart Keyword using the keyword "dc" to search the donationcoder forums.  To perform this search in Firefox, in its location bar one might type:

  dc weekly news

With this alias, you can initiate a similar search from within FARR, (even when Firefox is not running), in its search edit box one might type:

  fs3 dc:weekly news

In addition, with FARR's non-contiguous matching enabled, you don't even have to remember the "dc" keyword.  If you can type a portion of the website's name, FARR can filter potential candidate searches for you.

(Feel free to skip the next section "Introduction for the Patient" if you felt you got the basic idea.  I recommend looking at the "Quick Start" section before deciding what to look at afterwards.)

* Introduction for the PatientAccording to Wikipedia's article on "Features of Mozilla Firefox":

  Smart keywords can be used to quickly search for information on
  specific Web sites.  A smart keyword is defined by the user and can
  be associated with any bookmark, and can then be used in the
  location bar as a shortcut to quickly get to the site or, if the
  smart keyword is linked to a searchbox, to search the site.

A major aim of this alias is to enable FARR to reuse the core functionality provided by features such as "Smart Keywords" [1].

Using this alias, a user should be able to quickly search a site via FARR, leveraging Firefox's store of search information, but perhaps in a manner that is more convenient than in Firefox.

Once the alias has been configured, one might type:

  f3s donatcode:cranioscopical                                  (1)

or perhaps:

  f3s dc:cranioscopical                                             (2)

or even:

  f3s doooom:cranioscopical                                      (3)

in FARR's search edit box to search for "cranioscopical" at the DonationCoder forums.

If one were using smart keywords, the properties dialog box for the bookmark might have the following fields and values:

  Name: DonationCoder Forums
  Keyword: dc

Invocations (1) and (3) depend on FARR's non-contiguous matching [2], while invocation (2) might work due to the associated keyword (or also the non-contiguous matching).

[1] For more information on "Smart Keywords", please consider:

[2] In FARR's Options dialog, under Program Options -> Settings -> Search
    Behavior -> Non-contiguous Pattern Matching, there is a setting for:

      Score non-contiguous matches

    This alias may be more convenient if the associated checkbox for
    this setting is checked.

    In addition, it may be that the alias' behavior is affected by the
    checkbox for the setting immediately beneath:

      Disable non-contiguous matching when using +sall to show all matches

    This remains to be determined :)

* Quick StartPlease note that below, lines prefixed by >>> are intended as actions.  You may be able to read just those lines and manage to get things working.  The rest of the text is for the cases where that doesn't work out.

The current approach is meant as a proof-of-concept.  Unfortunately, it has some drawbacks (including but not necessarily limited to):

  -Initial configuration is necessary.  The process used in this
   approach depends on knowing where one's Firefox data (profile
   directory) is and determining this automatically does not appear to
   be so simple.  As of this writing, no automatic method has been
  -Periodic manual execution of a utility is necessary to update
   alias information if relevant Firefox data changes.

If that doesn't bother you or you want to try anyway, please continue :)

* Installation and ConfigurationThe actions in this section include: confirmation, modification, execution of a utility, and informing FARR of changes.

>>> Confirm that the folder containing the README.txt from the unpacked archive is located in:
>>>   Windows XP: <FARR-Installation-Dir>\AliasGroups\Installed\FF3Searches
>>>   Vista / 7: Good question -- someone care to help me out on this? :)

--- End quote ---

where <FARR-Installation-Dir> is typically (but not necessarily):

  C:\Program Files\FindAndRunRobot

>>> Appropriately specify values in ExtractFF3Searches.ini

--- End quote ---

A starting template is provided in ExtractFFSearches.ini.blank.  Copying it and modifying the result is recommended.  Its content is:


The important value is the one that specifies your Firefox profile directory.  This is named ProfileDir.

Typical values of ProfileDir may look like (but are not likely to be exactly the same as):

  C:\Documents and Settings\rolfs\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\p314e21.default
If you don't know what value to use, the following might be of some use in making a determination:

Debug should be 0 (off) or 1 (on).  If Debug is 1, the extraction utility (ExtractFFSearches.exe) may provide more diagnostic information than otherwise via dialog boxen and a file named debuglog.txt.

Once ExtractFF3Searches.ini has been appropriately modified:

>>> Run ExtractFF3Searches.exe to generate FF3Searches.txt

--- End quote ---

Successful execution should result in the creation of a file named FF3Searches.txt.  If you've used FARR aliases before, the content of this file might look familiar.  It is analogous to what you might put in the "Result(s)" text area of the "Edit Group Alias" dialog box in FARR.

To make FARR aware of the Firefox 3 Searches alias, either restart FARR or:

>>> Bring up FARR and type: goreload

--- End quote ---

Note that there may be a discrepancy between what is in FF3Searches.txt and the most up-to-date information maintained by Firefox.  See the Notes section below for some more detail.

* Example UsageTo search Stack Overflow for FARR:

>>> Bring up FARR and type f3s so:FARR

--- End quote ---

One way to analyze what is typed is:

    the name of the alias
    a separator between the alias and the rest
    a string that matches a name/title (Stack Overflow)
    a separator indicating that query terms are about to follow
    the query text

Note the colon character between "so" and "FARR".

To search Firefox Add-ons for greasemonkey:

>>> Bring up FARR and type f3s ffa:greasemonkey

--- End quote ---

One way to analyze what is typed is:

    the name of the alias
    a separator between the alias and the rest
    a string that matches a name/title (Firefox Add-ons)
    a separator indicating that query terms are about to follow
    the query text

Did I mention that there's a colon?  ;)

The usage of this alias is very similar to that of another one named "SokuGin".  The latter's documentation may be nicer, so it's possible that taking a look might be helpful:

* Notes-There is an alias for rebuilding FF3Searches.txt -- it is f3sx

-There is an alias for viewing content similar to what's here -- it is f3sreadme

-Values in ExtractFF3Searches.ini, should be specifiable using
 environment variables such as %APPDATA%.

-ExtractFF3Searches.exe may be run with command line arguments (the
 values override any values in the .ini file).  A value for ProfileDir
 may be specified and optionally -v which is equivalent to Debug=1.

-The extraction utility analyzes daily backups of bookmarks that
 Firefox creates.  The extracted information may be out-of-date
 because the backups are too.  The most up-to-date information is
 stored in a file which Firefox locks while it is running in a manner
 that appears to prevent other programs from accessing it.

 I presume many people often have Firefox running, so I looked for
 another way to access information which might often be comparably
 good.  For more details, please read the following posts:

 One work-around is to wait 24 hours and extract again.

 Another might be to use the Backup functionality via Firefox's
 Organize Bookmarks window (though, I've found the latter to be
 somewhat, delayed (may be?) in opeartion).

 A longer-term work-around might be to convince Firefox developers to
 make bookmark data more readily accessible -- preferably without
 users having to install anything additional or make any configuration
 changes :)

 I wasn't keen on copying the locked file to another location and then
 accessing it.  Perhaps my leanings on this matter might be
-Firefox 3.6 seems to generate invalid JSON -- at least the bookmark
 backups in alleged JSON format are not necssarily strictly JSON.  My
 local copies have trailing commas in places where there should not be
 -- at least, that's my current understanding.  This led me to pass on
 using Douglas Crockford's json_parse.js, sadly.

-Tested with Firefox 3.6 and FARR 2.86.01 around 2010-03-01 on Windows XP

* CreditsThanks to:

    for testing, discussion, etc.
  Jabberwock for writing up his post:
    for discussion and testing

    for ws4ahk
  Mike Samuel
    for json-sans-eval, but:
      source code seems to suggest Public Domain
      web page says Apache License 2.0
      errr, so which is it?

  Douglas Crockford
    for JSON
  Chris Mallet and AHK contributers  
    for AutoHotkey and Related Code
  Firefox developers and users
    for Firefox

  Ok, this list could go on, but let's stop here :)



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