Search has long been a critical component of the Web. Without a search capability, a vast amount of the Web would never be viewed. Even before Google, the likes of Yahoo!, Excite, AltaVista, and WebCrawler were serving up search results to the public so that the Web could live up to its potential as a useful communication medium. As time went on, site searching became more sophisticated and companies began to offer more specialized searching.
Think of the types of search Google offers, for instance—web, images, blogs, books, groups, and so on. This kind of specialization allows users to find content that is more specific to their areas of interest in the first place. This is searching on a global scale and is necessary for the web-savvy users of today who know exactly what they are looking for. However, this is not necessary at the site level (in most cases).
When it comes to searching on a specific site, usually a basic keyword search of the site is offered, maybe allowing for specific areas—but it is still basic. Really, this is all that is ever needed. The user is already on the site, and if he is searching there he is searching for something specific. This is what we will concentrate on in this chapter: how Ajax can aid in these types of searches.
On the backend, a developer can set up a site for searching in three different ways, each offering a different level of detail in the search:
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