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Search Blog

March
28

Build Your Own Search Engine

Ever wanted to create your own search engine?  Or use a search engine that’s tailored to the specific topic you’re interested in?  Last Friday we released a new Live Search feature called Search Macros that enables you to do this!

What are Search Macros?
Search Macros are a feature of Live Search that make results more relevant for a given search topic.  This is done by easily using, creating and sharing customized sets of search engine rules.

Technically speaking, a Search Macros are custom, user-created groups of search operators built with the Live Search query language (see ‘Symbol reference’ and ‘Keyword reference’ in our help section). Macros are stored on our servers and are available to any user on live.com.  All macros can be used by anyone completely anonymously.

How do I use them?
There are two main ways to use macros:
A. Try an existing macro
B. Create and share your own

I’ll cover both below:

A. Try an existing macro
Let’s say you’re looking for a macaroni and cheese recipe.  The top search results for ‘macaroni and cheese’ are from macaroni and cheese makers.  Good results, but not the recipes you’re looking for.

Now let’s try the same query with a macro called livesearch.recipes.  This time the top results are all recipes—the macaroni and cheese maker pages are no longer there.  This is definitely content that is more relevant for my recipe search.  

You can easily save this macro clicking on livesearch.recipes in the yellow “Click to install” box. 

 Your macro will be added to the search bar at the top of the page (we call this the scope bar).  You can now easily switch back and forth from it to Web, News and all of the other scopes.

 If you look for recipes often, using a macro that returns great results for recipe searches is helpful…being able to put that macro your scope bar so it’s 1 click away is awesome!

So far there are over 60 macros shared on MicrosoftGadgets.com. You can install any macro there by clicking on it and then on the +Live.com icon.

B. Create your own macro
To create a macro click “Create Macros” in the dropdown menu on the far right side of the scope bar.  (You’ll need to be signed in with your Passport.  You‘ll automatically be asked to sign in if you aren’t already.)

1. Pick a namespace
The first time you create a macro you will see the namespace creation screen.  You only get one macro namespace and it will be tied to your Passport.  Your namespace will be in the name of all macros you create.
 
For example, “livesearch” is the namespace and “recipes” is the name of the macro.  Pick your namespace carefully as we don’t plan on allowing you to change it!  It’s also important to note that we do not associate macro searches with your Passport.

2. Make a macro
Next is the macro creation screen. Macros have several components: a name, the default scope (Web results vs. News results), a description and a definition.  The definition is where you define the advanced operators for your macro. For example, livesearch.recipes that we’ve been talking about has the following definition:

 (-site:toeatgoodfood.com -linkdomain:googlesyndication.com intitle:recipe prefer:cup prefer:serve prefer:cook prefer:food prefer:menu prefer:cookbook prefer:site:www.epicurious.com prefer:site:www.recipesource.com prefer:site:allrecipes.com prefer:site:www.foodtv.com prefer:site:www.recipesource.com)

It uses the following operators to find good recipe sites:

site: restrict results to a single domain
prefer: reorder the results preferring this term
linkdomain: finds results that link to a page on a domain
"-" exclude pages that meet this criteria

The Search Macros team will posting more in the near future. In the meantime, feel free to give macros a try, claim your namespace and let us know what you think…

Zachary Gutt
Program Manager
Windows Live Search Macros

 

Comments

  • Can we please have more than one namespace and/or manage our namespace(s)? I saw the new feature pop and decided to try it out. Naturally, I named my first namespace "test1". Now, it seems all of my future macros will be in the "test1" namespace? That sucks.
  • Please advertise. This is an awesome feature and I did not find it reported in any news source (or Did I miss it?). Let us advertise more and let people know what we are doing

    In other words, let our innovations flash before people's eyes and ears, clear and loud.
  • Why the -linkdomain:googlesyndication.com ?
  • Any limit to the number of sites you can include in "site:"?
  • I rarely perform the same search over and over again.  Also there is no mention as to what web browser is required ?
  • > Why the -linkdomain:googlesyndication.com ?

    That's to eliminate any page that has Adsense on it of course so that you're only looking at pages that don't support AdSense... such as MSN's new beta Publisher program and also Yahoo!'s Publisher Network ads that compete with Google.

    I'm not sure if that's autogenerated by MSN or not.  If so, that's pretty crappy.
  • Hi Herman - We've tested macros in IE6, IE7 and Firefox.  Also, macros aren't for performing the same search over and over again, but for performing multiple searches across the same set of content.  Maybe you look for recipes often, so you want your content scoped to great recipe sites.  Maybe you only want to search the group of blogs you read frequently, or sports sites, or...

    thanks for your comment!
    zach

  • This is too complicated and is definately not intuitive.

    Why would I want to build their own search engine to search for recipes???????? Couldn't someone have thought of a better use?? But then again what use is there for this thing at this point in time??

    Why does Microsoft think that everyone will jump on the their bandwagon just because they like to use pretentious and "trendy" keywords. Good products would attract people, not stupid products with pompous and high flown descriptions.

    Who uses MS to search anyways apart from the people that do no know how to remove it as the default search for IE ?

    Sorry MS people but I think you are wasting your time with this. Non-idiots use Google to search the web, not MSN.
  • Overall, this is helpful for Advanced Searchers

    But signing in with a Passport Account should not be the only option.  For those who prefer privacy, why not make this a Cookie or AJAX optional technology.

    Could you also define programmatically what you are calling a MACRO???
  • It is a good idea.
    but Live Search do not support Chinese。
  • We are currently unable to serve your request
    We apologize, but an error occurred and your request could not be completed.

    This error has been logged. If you have additional information that you believe may have caused this error please report the problem here.
  • GREAT!

    now i'm stuck with a stupid namespace :(
  • Awesome feature for advanced users - *so* many times i wanted to search 4-5 of the sties for one keyword - this makes life easy for advanced searchers, though its just too complicated for common folk(namespaces? which non-CS majors has even a clue what that means?)

    oh also, is there any site/blog or any information on the MSN Mobile search team? are they a part of the MSN search tem?(I may be joining that team soon!)
  • Hey,

    I just tried it with a test macro namespace, just to realise you haven't provided a way to change it. Why????

    "This namespace is unique and will be associated with your Macros. Your macros can be used by others, but they will not be able to associate those macros with you"

    This tells me that the namespace is used to group and identify my macros - NOT that it remains permanent, is singular, and can't be chanegd!

    Surely you MUST provide an option to change the namespace, or provide more than one.

    When initially creating the namespace, there was no warning or any hint to suggest that you can't chnge the namespace!

    "...is unique..." does not necessarily mean that it is like a passport, does it?

    If you insist on not having the ability to change the namespace, at least provide a warning!

    C'mon, the only way to change my name space is to sign up for a dummy passport - solely for the purpose of a macro!

    What is the point of testing the macro to be punished for being an early adopter!

    Is that to much to ask?

  • I have introduce this to the chinese user, but I am worry about someone will use the Macros Namespace to do some evil things. If the namespace "Kids" points to the pedophilia web site result, that's evil!
    How can Microsoft to control them?