Wikia Search Launches Intelligent Search Extensions API

Jordan Running
Oct. 16 2008, 01:44AM EDT

Wikia Search has announced a new feature called Wikia Intelligent Search Extensions, or WISE, which founder Jimmy Wales likens to "Facebook Apps for search results." The new platform allows third parties to build applications, called WISEApps, that Wikia Search users can enable in their accounts and which add additional functionality to relevant search results (more at our Wikia API profile). For example, the results for an ordinary search for "Chicago weather" will include a link to AccuWeather.com, but if the user enables the AccuWeather.com WISEApp, the search result will include a full graphical five-day weather forecast:

Google-watchers will note that this feature is very similar to Google Subscribed Links, also known as Search Add-ons, which launched a year ago but has gotten little press since. The WISE platform is very similar in concept to Subscribed Links, but the implementation is very different and should allow for much more flexibility and customization. Wikia also boasts that unlike Subscribed Links, WISEApps can be ranked and annotated by any user, just like all results on the fledgling search engine.

Behind the scenes, WISEApps are built entirely using JavaScript. A basic application needs only an application definition object, which is a simple JavaScript object that gives Wikia Search information about the application, including what kinds of search queries should "trigger" the app's appearance, the URL it fetches data from, and how to display that data. A more complex application can refer to a second JavaScript file which contains application code--at minimum a Fetch function to retrieve data from the third-party site and a Render function to tell the platform how to display the search result.

Example code for a basic application, which fetches and displays recent blog posts from (ironically) Google Blog Search, is shown in the blog announcement, and complete documentation for the WISE platform is available on the Wikia Search wiki. Wikia has built a Playground site where developers can test their application code, and the company is individually screening each WISEApp via email--though a more formal submission process should be in place soon--before making it available to end users. Wales told TechCrunch that all apps will be admitted as long as "they are not awful," and apps from a number of partner companies, including Digg, Twitter, Kayak, Reuters, Last.fm, and Yelp, are already on display in the Application Gallery.

Jordan Running I'm a serial tinkerer living in the midwest and dreaming of a totally machine-readable, interoperable future.

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