One of my all-time favorite bloggers, Long Zheng of istartedsomething.com, has just introduced a new search connector he programmed himself for integration into the Windows 7 search service. The connector is a combination of the OpenSearch Description File generator (aka the “Search Connector” in Windows 7) and the Flickr web service. This new software takes advantage of one of the less-discussed features in the upcoming OS – federated search.
In case you’re not familiar with that term, it means the simultaneous search of multiple online databases or web resources. Zheng notes that the feature may not have gotten the attention it deserves because it was marketed as a way to search SharePoint sites from within Windows 7. While that is sure to get some I.T. admins to sit up and take notice, consumers won’t care as much unless you do something “cool” – like make a tool that searches Flickr.
This feature of Windows 7 is easy for developers to code for as it uses open standards OpenSearch and RSS2. Yes, open standards to interact with something implemented natively in the Windows shell. (You can close your mouth now, it’s not that shocking.)
Anyway, as far as what the tool can do, it’s simple: you can search flickr photos right from within the Windows shell. To the end user, it doesn’t appear any different than a search for photos actually saved on the PC itself. Talk about blurring the lines between PC and web!
Other possibilities Zheng suggests for this feature are searching files on your remote Windows Home Server, searching music on Pandora, searching for videos on Soapbox, etc. (Oh, please please build me those too!)
Anyone who’s running one of the pre-beta versions of Windows 7 can go ahead and start playing with this feature now. It’s a free download from here: http://www.istartedsomething.com/flickrsearch.