Monday 28 January 2013

NOTE: Quick SAS Keyword Search in Chrome

Did you know that the Google Chrome browser allows you to specify multiple search engines, accessible by a short keyword? Well, I didn't until last week when my mention of Visuwords (graphical dictionary & thesaurus) made me wonder if there was some means of clicking a word on a page and taking it straight to Visuwords to look it up. Well, it seems there is, and I found a good use of the facility for SAS lookups too.

In the SAS context, I often find that searching for SAS words or phrases in a search engine just gives me too much material, so I will more often do my search at SAS's Global Forum Proceedings web page. It's not too tiresome to go to SAS's site (if I remember the URL), wait for it load, and then search, but with a search engine keyword I can now do it quicker by just searching for "sgf spde tips" if I'm looking for SPDE tips (SGF is my search engine keyword).

It's a pretty simple thing to do, but remember that this tip is for Chrome. As far as I can see, Internet Explorer is less flexible and accommodating.

Firstly, you need to know the right search URL to get a "sgf" result. This is most easily explained by demonstrating it for Visuwords first (all will become apparent in due course). A Visuword search URL is simply:<word>.

So, we launch Chrome, go to the Customise and Control button (three horizontal lines, top right of the Chrome window), and select Settings. On the settings page you'll see an area headlined Search, and within that area you'll see a button labelled Manage Search Engines. Click it and you'll see a dialog window like that shown alongside this paragraph. Scroll to the bottom of the Other Search Engines and you'll see a blank set of options. Enter the following values.

  • Add a new search engine. Enter a meaningful descriptive name, e.g. Visuwords
  • Keyword. Enter a neat, short word to trigger your search, e.g. vw
  • URL. Enter the search URL, with %s in place of a search word, i.e.
Once you've clicked OK, you're all set.

So, let's look-up "note". We begin by typing "vw" in the Chrome address bar (known as the omnibox); all looks normal until we press space; now we see a special prompt that says "Search Visuwords:"; finally we continue typing "note", press Enter, and we get taken to the Visuwords web site and we get shown the definition of "note". Hey presto! 

Okay, we can do the same for the SGF proceedings, but what is the search string? Well, go to the SAS Global Forum Proceedings web page and enter a search. See the URL that shows the results? It's long, isn't it?! But somewhere in there you'll find your search string. Copy the whole URL. Paste that into the Google settings dialog window, just replace your search string with %s, and hey presto again!

I've done the same for Lex Jansen's site too because his site searches across a number of different conferences, not just SAS Global Forum (and SUGI). So, I can search for "lex spde tips" and find SPDE-related conference papers from SAS Global Forum, SUGI, PharmaSUG, NESUG, SESUG, PhUSE, WUSS, MWSUG, PNWSUG and SCSUG.

You can do this with Internet Explorer too, but I've not found a simple route to add something that's not in IE's gallery of search engines. The easiest seems to be Enhance IE.

Can you think of any other SAS-related sites for which you'd appreciate a quick search mechanism? Let me know in a comment.