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Roll Your Own Search Engine With Rollyo (Beta)

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For the past few weeks I've had the chance to test out and create several focused and targeted search engines (based URLS I specified) with Rollyo, a new search tool released to the public today in an early beta by Dave Pell of Davenetics fame. As John notes, the public beta just went up, so fair game to talk about it! I think it's an exciting idea and one that you'll want to check out for yourself.

What is Rollyo?
In a nutshell, Rollyo allows the user to take up to 25 urls and create a search tool (what Rollyo calls a Searchroll), that search ONLY these domains. The database your pulling sites and content from is powered by Yahoo. Of course, you can edit and modify your Searchroll at any time.

Sure, you could head to Yahoo, Google, Gigablast, Ask, MSN and others and as an advanced searcher string together long query strings limiting your search with the site: command. However, most people AREN'T advanced searchers and even those who are might not have the time to create such a query.

What Rollyo does is make all of this MUCH easier. All the user has to do is enter up to 25 urls that contain material(s) of interest and click. It's that simple. There are no limitations about what you can create a specialized/target search tool about.

Here's a simple example. A user might want to create a focused search (aka Searchroll) about meteorology/weather.
With Rollyo, all they have to do is find* and enter the urls of a site or sites of that focus on the topic.
+ www.noaa.gov
+ www.wildwildweather.com
+ ggweather.com/
+ www.worldweather.org
+ www.weatheronline.co.uk/

* Non-commercial web directories like the Librarians' Index to the Internet (http://www.lii.org) , RDN (http://rdn.ac.uk) , and Infomine (http://infomine.ucr.edu) are great places to begin.

Then, the Rollyo allows you to name your focused search database (Searchroll), let's call ours Weather Search' and now, when the click search, they're only searching the content in domains they listed.

Very cool and very easy!

Even better, it's possible to share your Rollyo "Searchrolls" with friends and colleagues. I think that a tool like this, because of its easy of use, has a strong future in both the workplace and in schools.

Strengths
Even folksonomy enthusiasts will be happy since it's possible to "tag" your Searchrolls for better retrieval. All rolls can be marked public so they can be seen by all Rollyo users.

Weaknesses
Remember, today is just the first day of the Rollyo public beta and it still needs work to make it an even more useful service. Here are a few things I would love to see in future releases.

The ability to be able to limit your search to a specific part of a web domain. For example, Rollyo searches entire sites such as www.cnn.com or support.apple.com, but not parts of sites, such as www.cnn.com/politics/. The ability to limit to parts of sites would make Rollyo MUCH more powerful. In some cases, it would also be useful to be able to enter only a specific page into a SearchRoll.

The chance to use other databases (verticals) alongh with the Yahoo web database. Remember, if the page hasn't been crawled by Yahoo, Rollyo will not find it.

A date next to each Rollyo/Yahoo results listing the last time the page was crawled. Also, a direct link to the Yahoo cached version of each page on Rollyo results page. Links to The Wayback Machine would also be useful (Yahoo now provides these).

Documentation about how to use of some Yahoo's advanced search features with Rollyo like limiting your search to words in the title of a document.

Bottom Line
I've very bullish on Rollyo and will be monitoring the site for changes and enhancements. I've been wanting something like this for a long time. Kudos to Dave Pell and his team.

Postscript:
Hey, that's cool. I just noticed a demo Searchroll I created is listed on the Rollyo home page.


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