Client-side searching proposal

Rob Hartill (
Wed, 25 Jan 1995 17:33:06 +0100

[sorry if this gets repeated, the mail failed twice before]

Hi all,

I had an idea the other day to improve searching on the web.
There are many search engines on the web which will return a
list of links to documents containing a search keyword. The
search engine then either

1) expects you to find the keyword after following the link
2) processes the document, highlighting and anchoring the keyword
to make it visible to the user. i.e. they create a new
document on the fly.

Both these methods have drawbacks. 1) is obvious; the user has
to do another search within the document to find the keyword. 2)
has the drawback of requiring some nifty programming to highlight
and anchor any part of a HTML document (I've tried this - there are
lots of annoying special cases to catch you out). It also adds
to the load of the server.

The idea I propose is to allow URLs to contain a search keyword for
client-side searching. Most browsers allow you to search a document
for strings.

So here's how it could work..

would have the browser load the URL,
look for an anchor named "/jump"
(for backwards compatibilty)
else search for "jump", scroll to it and highlight it

If the use of "/" is undesirable, simply find another notation.

As well as providing a neat way for providers to enhance or simplfy their
search engines, Joe Public will be able to setup links to other people's
pages and define 'virtual anchors'. How often do you connect to a page
then always scroll down to the link or info you want ? - doing the
search visually.

Being a client side feature, the extra work is performed (where it should
be) on the users machine. Most browsers are already capable of searching
for and displaying search strings, so implementation should be very

Browsers which don't support this feature would continue to work as
normal - they would just ignore an anchor name they cannot find.

So, is anyone from the HTML standards committee out there ?
If not where should I send this proposal ?


Robert Hartill                 
Los Alamos National Laboratory                    Phone: (505) 665 2280
Theoretical Division, T-8, MS B285                  Fax: (505) 667 5585
P.O. Box 1663
Los Alamos, NM 87545, U.S.A.