[techtalk] HOWTO search interface

Dan McGarry dmcgarry at moodindigo.com
Wed Feb 2 03:34:36 EST 2000

Okay folks, I've finished the first (very) rough cut on a search interface
for the Linux Documentation Projects HOWTOs.


(I've also worked a similar interface up for the perl documentation set:

It's fairly simple, but does a few things that don't yet exist elsewhere (to
my knowledge):

    * Adds a style sheet reference to each requested file, thus prettifying
the content slightly. YMMV considerably, however, as Netscape 4 on Linux
(and Windows as well) has a %#^) poor CSS implementation. If you're viewing
the site using <gack> IE4-5 or Opera 3.5+ or a recent build of Mozilla (you
brave soul!), the appearance of the files should be fairly decent.

    * Enables keyword highlighting and navigation in the results documents.
The next and previous buttons in the top frame allow you to move from one
occurrence of each keyword to the next.


    * Remove the necessity for JavaScript. While js will be the method of
choice, it should be possible to use a simple mod_perl script to move the
user to the next hit as well. Granted, this will be more costly to the
server, but I hate to rely entirely on something that a great many people
have disabled (and often for very good reasons).

    * Allow the user to select the stylesheet s/he wants. This involves,
well, writing a few more style sheets, then adding some fairly simple logic
to the Apache module that parses the file before transmitting it. I've sent
mail to Todd Fahrner to see if he'll allow a mod_perl port of his Core Style
generator, but he has yet to reply. If anyone knows how to get at him, I'd
appreciate a good word in his ear in this regard....

    * Improve the parsing algorithm (and I use that term loosely!) to
generate a better synopsis of each HOWTO document in the index file.

    * Add the Mini-HOWTOs to the list of available files. (I figured the
HOWTOs, being significantly larger, would benefit best from being

    * Create a better browsing interface/document index. Right now, the
index just consists of one long definition list. It would be neat if it were
sliced and diced a little more intuitively. By category, perhaps? Ideas?

    * Make use of the Perl LWP::UserAgent->mirror method in my update script
so that it can be transformed into a cron job.

    * Document and package the process so that others can use it.

If anyone has questions about the interface -- or even better, wants to chip
in to improve it -- by all means drop me a line.

All the best,
Dan McGarry

techtalk at linuxchix.org   http://www.linuxchix.org

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