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Remote Search Tutorial

It's easy to install the Growth House search engine on your own site just by cutting and pasting a few lines of HTML code. You don't even need CGI access on your server. This online tutorial explains how it works, gives you code for common searches, and let's you visit some of our remote search sites. Please select a tutorial module:

Remote Search Overview

Placing the Growth House search engine directly on your site will give your visitors immediate access to the net's most extensive database of reviewed resources for end of life issues. It's a highly interactive feature that will increase the "touch and feel" aspects of your site.

Sites that install the search engine are eligible for promotion through the Growth House newsletter and via preferred placement in the database itself, increasing the visibility of your site.

Unlike generalized tools, our search engine is optimized for use by persons concerned with end of life issues. We've anticipated what your visitors are looking for, including hospice and home care, palliative care, pain management, death and dying, several types of bereavement, cancer, AIDS, and many related issues. Because the search engine is tailored for these topics it's far more likely to prove useful to your visitors than just sending them to Yahoo or one of the general search sites on the web.

Since visitors don't need to leave your site to see hundreds of resources, they can use their PAGE BACK button to return to your site after visiting links.

Best of all, it's very easy to install on your site. Just select the version of the search engine that meets your needs, use the VIEW SOURCE feature on your browser to see the form code for that search, and cut and paste the form code anywhere you like at your site. If you have any problems getting it to work, or want to discuss a customized design, just send us mail and we will be happy to help.

Please do not make changes to the authorized demo code on these pages without prior authorization from Growth House.

Demo: Basic Category List

Here is a demo of our most popular remote search, which uses a compact format to present the user with a list of categories to select from. This version can be customized in several ways. Categories can be deleted, the order of the categories in the list can be changed, and a default category can be pre-selected based on your most common interest area. We've set this demo up to use Hospice and Home Care as the default, but you can easily change that to any of the other categories -- whatever category that you list first becomes the default.

Here's how it will look on your site. Give it a try, then use your PAGE BACK button to return to this page to read more details.

Growth House Search

How To Install A Category Search

To install this category search on your own site just use your browser's "View Source" feature to pull up the HTML code for this page, look for the FORM code for the search engine and cut and paste the FORM code at the points shown into the BODY section of any page at your web site. Please note special hints for webmasters who use frames or Front Page, PageMill, and similar tools.

You can tailor the search code to provide only those preformatted searches that you wish your visitors to see. All you have to do is delete the categories for "browse" searches that you don't feel are relevant for your audience. You can set the default search by simply moving that category to the top of the option list.

Other than deleting categories for searches you don't want to use, please don't modify the search engine code in any way. If you need modifications please look at other versions of the code or send us mail and we will help you design a custom version.

You may place the search engine anywhere you like on your site. In selecting a location, remember that when people use the search engine, they will want to return to your site by using the PAGE BACK button on their browser. Putting the search engine on its own page, or at the top of a complex page, ensures users a smooth return to where they started.

Some browsers get confused if you try to embed this FORM code inside a table. Display results for tables within tables can be unpredictable under these conditions and you may see the options jumbled or partially visible. This is a defect in the way your browser renders the formatting, not a defect in the code. To prevent this problem, install the FORM code outside your tables. If you must put a search feature inside a table cell, we suggest you use one of the single button formats, which are less likely to produce browser-dependent rendering errors.

Sites that already have existing links pages should link to the search engine from that page. Since the search engine generates link pages dynamically driven by user requests, the sites may overlap with sites already in your links. If you want to check if specific sites are in the search engine, just search for them using all or part of their URLs. If you notice we are missing a site that you feel should be included in the search engine, please let us know.

Try these other versions

Remote Search Sites

Click the button to generate a list of remote search sites. Sites come and go on the Internet, and our list may not always have the most current picture of who is using this service.

Hints for webmasters who use frames

If you install the remote search engine within a frame you can let the output display inside the current frame, route the output to a new browser window, or blast your user out of frames entirely. It's easy to do this by adding a TARGET="whatever" specification to the tag which calls the search engine, as these examples will show.

While the search engine itself is designed to resize automatically to fit whatever frame it winds up in, many of the sites in the links don't do dynamic resizing. This results in some sites being hard to use when displayed within your frames. Forcing the user to read links inside of your frame without letting them leave is called frame capturing. Frame capturing is a very irritating practice that interferes with free movement on the web. If you really must hang on to the traffic, a better solution is to open another window to display links while keeping your site available in the original window.

To route the search results to a full-sized window just add a TARGET="whatever" or TARGET="_TOP" spec to the ACTION tag or to the A HREF tag which calls your search. If you are not sure how to do this just send us mail and we will be happy to help you determine the right method.

The most common way people call the remote search engine looks like this:

form method="POST" action=""
This version will send the output to a new window called whatever:

form method="POST" action=""
The Window name whatever can be any value. If you have another Window named "whatever" open somewhere, the search engine output will be routed to it. If no window exists by that name, your browser will create it for you unless the browser is incredibly stupid (far less than 1% of your users will have this problem).

If you want to blast the users out of frames entirely you can use TARGET="_TOP" which is the most normal form of movement on the web. Your visitor can use the PAGE BACK button on their browser to return to your site.

To see a demo of how opening a new window works try a search using this version of the code:

Growth House Search

Hints for webmasters who use Front Page, PageMill, and similar tools

When we get a message saying "I installed your search engine but it doesn't work" we usually find that someone is using Front Page, PageMill, or a similar automated page to upload their code. When importing code like the Growth House search engine, these tools will often scramble the CGI code blocks in ways you may not see. Front Page seems to be the worst offender, but you need to be careful with all of them.

This is not due to defects in the Growth House code. It's due to the way these page handlers trash code which you are importing from another place.

Front Page and similar tools are attractive to beginners because they make it easy to use seemingly advanced gimmicks like imagemaps in your pages. The downside is that they rearrange code according to their own twisted logic. Front Page is particularly bad because it produces code which will only run on servers that have the Front Page extensions enabled, and doesn't make it easy for you to see what it's doing with your code.

You must visually inspect all code after it has been uploaded to the server to figure out what sort of hatchet job your automatic editing tool chose to make. To see the page that wound up on your server you can use the VIEW SOURCE function on your browser.

Most Front Page hatchet jobs don't affect the visual appearance of pages, but they can be fatal to CGI scripts. The Growth House remote search features, like most CGI code on the web, are usually driven by HTML forms which are defined by FORM ... /FORM tags. It's critical that the CGI statements appear in a certain order and that they all appear within their own FORM container. When importing CGI scripts from another source Front Page butchers the CGI scripts by rearranging statements, adding statements, and mixing up FORM elements. Depending on what Front Page felt like doing to your code, the CGI script may fail to work at all, may apparently work correctly but have hidden errors, may intermingle its actions with other CGI scripts on your page, or may work just fine.

Another annoyance is that CGI code which does work may stop working later when you use your automated editing tool to make an edit elsewhere on the page. That's because these tools may scramble the whole page whenever you edit any part of it. You can minimize this problem by putting your CGI scripts on their own pages and isolating them as much as possible from frequently-edited areas of your site that are subject to Front Page's ministrations. Once you get the CGI code working properly, keep it safe from harm.

As your skills improve you will discover that it's more work to correct Front Page's screwups than it would have been to do it right the first time. Our advice is to learn to write HTML code in a plain text and upload via simple FTP. If you must use an HTML at least use one that shows you the code, such as HotDog.

If you must use Front Page or another problematic to upload your pages and would like us to help you with your installation, please send us mail. We will be happy to examine your site and give you suggestions on how to get things working despite the ham-fisted "help" from your program.