Idea: Search server running inside your browser

Got an idea to use the browser as a virtual machine for Norch. Norch is Fergus McDowall’s pet project: A search server written in JavaScript and based on Node.js and LevelDB. Since it’s JavaScript, and HTML5 local storage has the same key/value storage as levelDB (HTML5 local storage for Chrome actually is levelDB) it has the possibility to run inside any modern browser.

Norch could then be added with a bookmarklet to any page (A bookmark adding a javascript to the page you’re on). With some simple UI-stuff you could define the Norch Document Processor Adapter, set up rules for Norch Crawler, crawl, process, index and then search within your indexed documents. All without using any servers, on premises or in the cloud. When the user is satisfied she or he could download the JSON-file with processed documents + scripts for adding a search box,  search result and navigators to a page.

Possible use cases:

  • Easy site search setup
    One real benefit, and the initial idea, would be that the user would not need any server to test Norch and actually crawl a site. When page crawled the user can download JSON ready to be indexed + setup-files for a search box, navigators and search result. Or add it to a cloud service and there continue the work you started in your browser.
  • A easy and modern search solution behind the firewall
    Behind the firewall, almost all software looks a bit duller, more beige and basically not modern. But through the browser you could easily combine the strength of  Norch and all the hidden gems behind a firewall. There would be some big issues with security, but for intranet and people search it could be a great solution.
  • Ad hoc search on a site that is not yours
    Say you’re looking for something on a site. How about ad hock index it and then search it. Yes, it’s a bandwidth abuse waiting to happen, but could make a good tool for a lot of situations.
  • Your life, searchable
    This may need a browser add on, but then again, maybe not. Anyway: How about your whole online life, searchable. Today you have your browser history. It shows you page title and page link. What if all the text and images was searchable?

Some UX sketches of the idea:

The user finds a page to crawl …
The user finds a page to crawl ...

… clicks the bookmarklet …
The user finds a page to crawl ...

… that adds Norch JavaScript-stuff to the page …

… much like a browser plugin or add on …

… tests a jQuery selector statement …

… and adds the field to the item when satisfied. Repeated until a full item is defined.

Here’s the feature suggestion at the Norch GitHub page. Ideas or comments are more than welcome! Want to know more about Forage? Check out the Norch GitHub-pages or stuff we’ve written about Norch.

This blog-post is earlier posted on Search Nuggets.

Disagree, have a comment or want to pitch in? Youre thoughts are more than welcome =)

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