SFF's user interface

If you use SFF you'll notice that for some site's (Facebook, hi5, MySpace, Twitter, Google Profiles, diigo, Plurk and brightkite) results can be presented in three different ways:

  • in a single chrome page within iframes with colorful borders and navigation capabilities for the sites in the iframes
  • in a single chrome page with icons that link to the site's results page and a beautiful photo of Seattle's skyline at dusk as a background
  • and lastly in separate tabs, one for each site

Users can define which method of presentation they want, for each site mentioned above, explicitly via the addon's Options window.


But there are sites (LinkedIn, blogspot, vkontakte, bebo, Netlog) for which there aren't any presentation options available. The search is done with the help of a Google Custom Search Engine that is appropriately parameterized for the addon's needs.

These two groups of sites with the different presentation handling they likely raise the question why there is that kind of distinction. The answer is that some sites, as LinkedIn for example, use different fields for the name and the surname in the query string and that may cause a search return no results. Lets say that you encounter somewhere the string "John Doe" you highlight it and click "Search social networks". SFF would broke the string in two tokens, "John" and "Doe", and would pass these values to the query string's fields. Then the results would appear. But if you encounter somewhere the string "Doe John" the tokens would be passed to the URL fields name and surname in the wrong order and that would cause a search attempt with no results. Of course it is possible to use two iframes / icons / tabs (depending on the presentation method) for these sites and do a search with both the combinations of the tokens, but that can not be considered as a solution for me. It is not elegant.

Furthermore there are sites, e.g. Netlog, that do not allow name searches for not logged in users, but only general ones. So for sites of these categories there isn't an obvious and quick solution.

So for these two circumstances Google's CSE seems a nice workaround!