MUniversity of Minnesota

April 2006 Archives

April 25, 2006

How do I put a search engine onto my blog?

Hello everyone! I'm still working on the technical FAQ, but in the meantime I thought I would give you some instructions on how to put a search engine on your blog. As many of you have already found out, the search tool that comes with Movable Type is woefully inadequate. In fact, it is just pathetic, especially when you are searching a database of the size that is UThink (as of 4/25/06 over 36,000 individual entries). It is for this reason that I have removed the search box from all new blogs and their corresponding templates. Searches were taking upwards of a minute to complete. Obviously, this is unacceptable.

There is an answer to our problem, however. Google actually does a very good job of indexing UThink content (a phenomenal job, truth be told) and it is possible to use Google to put a search box back on your blog. In fact, we can even use the U of M Google Search Appliance as our search engine, and you can even limit your search to the contents of your blog only. How do you do it?!?!? Well, just read on!

  1. Login to UThink and enter the blog you want to add a search box to.
  2. Click on "Templates" in the left hand menu and then click on the "Main Index" template.
  3. Look for the line that starts "<div id="beta">". It may be a little difficult to find, but it should be towards the middle of the template. When you find that line, add these lines right underneath it:

    <div id="beta-inner" class="pkg">
    <div class="module-search module">
    <h2 class="module-header">Search</h2>
    <div class="module-content">
    <form method="get" action="">
    <input id="search" name="q" size="20" /><br />
    <input type="hidden" name="domains" value="<$MTBlogURL$>" />
    <input type="hidden" name="sitesearch" value="<$MTBlogURL$>" />
    <input type="submit" value="Search" />

Save the template and rebuild it. Then try a search. It should be able to find entries that have been indexed by the U of M Google Search Appliance. Of course, it will not be able to find entries that you have just written, but that should be OK since those entries are probably still on your blog home page.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. If this works well I may just put this in the default templates for all new blogs. Happy searching!

(PS -- These instructions apply to blogs created with MT 3.2 templates (all new blogs). If you have a blog older than November 2005, I can provide you with alternate instructions. Just let me know!)

Posted by snackeru at 03:00 PM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2006

Technical FAQ

Hello everyone. I've been getting a lot of the same questions and comments recently concerning the more technical side of Movable Type and our implementation of it on UThink. So, I've been preparing a "Technical FAQ" that will hopefully highlight some of the more frequently asked questions and provide an easier way for users to find the answers. So far, I am planning on answering these questions:

  • How do I get hit statistics for my blog?
  • How do I use a departmental Internet ID to create a UThink blog?
  • How do I add a list of links or a "blogroll" to my blog home page?
  • How do I increase or decrease the number of entries that appear on my home page?
  • How do I customize the look of my blog? How do I change its appearance?
  • How do I delete an existing blog?
  • How do I add students to my class blog? How do I add a new Internet ID to my blog?
  • How do I password protect my blog?
  • Is XML-RPC available on UThink? If so, what are the connection parameters?
  • What is an RSS feed and how might I use one?

These are just a few of the questions I would like to tackle. Are there any that I am missing? If you can think of any, please put them in the comments!

Also, I am thinking that an FAQ of this sort may be perfect in Wiki format. That way it would give all of us a chance to spread our wisdom. I may contact the UMWiki people and discuss the possibilities.

• Also, if you'd like to learn a little more about the project, there is a Breeze presentation concerning UThink that is available online for you to view. The Breeze file also includes presentations concerning other Web 2.0 technologies and how you could try to use them in a classroom setting. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Posted by snackeru at 09:17 AM | Comments (4)