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Minerva
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posticon Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


After trying out the Freefind search at Runboard Extra, I decided to set one up for Illusia and love it! You can pick and choose which forums it indexes, how many pages of each forum, even how many pages of each thread if you want. On top of all this, you can even customize it to look like your board. What can I say? That customizability gets me every time!

Please read everything carefully and do it slowly, step by step, because I don't know if I can explain it any better than I already have here. Of course, I can always try if you still don't understand after you've already tried to follow directions exactly as I have explained them here.

Pace yourself, because this is long. But if you're determined enough to do this, proceed...


Step 1: Register at Freefind

Ok, so first you have to go to Freefind and register an account, and your account info will be emailed to you. If you don't receive it, check your spam folder to make sure it didn't end up there, then put freefind.com on your email's safe list to prevent that from happening again.


Step 2: Log in to Freefind

Get your login info from the email they sent you and log in at http://www.freefind.com/control.html


Step 3: Check your board url

Your board url will be listed at the very top of the page after you log in. Double-check it and make sure you have entered it exactly as you need to, as Freefind is very particular about this.

I had a little trouble getting it to index my board at first, but it finally indexed the main page after I changed my board url to include a slash at the end. I'll tell you how to get the rest of your board indexed, but for right now, make sure your board's url follows this format:

http://com5.runboard.com/billusia/

Do NOT use the shortened billusia.runboard.com url.
DO make sure you are using the correct com# that your board is on.
DO make sure you put the slash at the end. I could not get Freefind to index my site without it.


Step 4: If it's wrong, fix it now

If your board url already looks exactly right, then skip forward to step #5.

To fix your url:

1) Click on the yellow "Admin" tab at the top of the page
2) Click on the link that says "Change url"
3) Make the appropriate change, then click on the "Submit button"


Step 5: Set your starting points

If you don't do this, Freefind will only find your forum listing (main) page.

1) Click on the yellow "Build Index" tab at the top of the page
2) Click on the link that says "Starting points"
3) Put in the urls of the forums you want to index.

Examples:

http://com5.runboard.com/billusia.f2
http://com5.runboard.com/billusia.f3
http://com5.runboard.com/billusia.f5
http://com5.runboard.com/billusia.f7

4) Once you have entered the urls of all the forums you want to index, click on the "Finish" button.

Step 6: Exclude pages you don't want to index

You can use wildcards here for partial matches, which comes in handy if you want to exclude member profiles, PM links, etc. Also, since Freefind will think any board on your com# is part of your site, you might want to use wildcards to exclude those as well, so it doesn't follow people's signatures and other posted links to other boards.

Excluding other boards:

Since all board urls have ...runboard.com/b... in it, you can use the asterisk wildcard like so:

*/ba*
*/bb*
*/bc*
*/bd*

...etc, all the way to */bz* — but you should only have 25 listings like this, NOT 26. Why?...

IMPORTANT: DO NOT EXCLUDE YOUR OWN BOARD!!!

Since my board id here at Runboard is /billusia, I could NOT put */bi* into the filter, because doing so would tell it to exclude my entire board. Likewise, if your board id is /bmymessageboard, you need to leave */bm* out of this list.

I will tell you how to exclude other boards that start with the same letter as yours later on in this tutorial, since this is easier to do after it's already been indexed.

Old forum names:

Chances are, Freefind will come across a few links in posts that use the old Runboard format, such as http://com5.runboard.com/billusia.fdesign. For this reason, you may want to exclude all forum ids that existed before the conversion that occurred at the beginning of October, 2006. DO NOT EXCLUDE FORUM IDs THAT CURRENTLY EXIST, unless you specifically do not want Freefind to index it.

The following three are only examples, as you will have to use the actual outdated forum IDs your board used to have.

*/fgeneral*
*/fmovies*
*/fmusic*

Other urls you may want to block:

*/control_panel*
*/create*
*hoh*
*/login*
*/logout*
*/linktous*
*pleasedo*
*/pm*
*/sup*

Since you are limited as to how much info can be indexed per account, and also to keep more than one link from showing up for each thread, you may want to add these to your exclude list:

*.t??offset*
*.t???offset*
*.t????offset*
*.t?????offset*
*.t??????offset*
*.t???????offset*
*.t????????offset*

Each ? is a wildcard for one character, while * works for an undetermined number of characters. I tried using *.t*offset* for this at first, but that didn't work.


Step 7: Index your board

Now it's time to let Freefind's spider do its job!

1) Click on the yellow "Build Index" tab at the top of the page, if you're not already there. It will be black if you're already there.
2) Click on the link that says "Index Now"
3) Click the "Finish" button


Step 8: Be patient

The more pages Freefind needs to index, the longer it will take to index. This could take 10 minutes, it could take an hour, or it might even take longer (who knows?). Just go about your normal business and forget about it for a while.

When Freefind is finished indexing your board, you will receive an email to let you know it's finished and how many pages were indexed.

You can test the search engine before ever putting it up on your board by pasting this in your browser window and changing the XXXXXXXX to your Freefind site ID, which is displayed at the top of your Freefind control center pages (this is NOT the same as your board ID):

http://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=XXXXXXXX

Alternately, you may set up a form on a test board, or even on an html page stored on your computer. Which brings us to the HTML:


Step 9: Get the HTML code for your search form

1) Click on the yellow "HTML" tab at the top of the page.
2) Highlight the code in the box, right-click on the highlighted text, and choose "Copy" from the resulting menu.
3) When you're ready to put it on your board (or you may put it on a test board), go into the custom HTML area for that board and paste the code where you want the form to appear, whether it be in the Header or Footer.

If you're not ready to put it on a board but want to save the form offline on your computer, (1) open an empty Notepad, paste the code in there, save as filename searchform.html, and open your new file in Internet Explorer.


Step 10: See if you need to exclude more pages

1) Here are two choices for bringing up the page you need to view:

If you have made a form, use it to do a search. Then, click on the "site map" link at the right side of the results page, just underneath the sponsored ads.

~~OR~~

You may paste this
http://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=XXXXXXXX&map=0&page=0&ics=1
into your browser, changing the XXXXXXXX to your site ID, which is displayed at the top of your Freefind control center pages (this is NOT the same as your board id).

2) Look through the site map, seeing if there are any links you don't want in there. If you see an url instead of a page title, that means the link does not work and should be excluded. This will happen when Freefind finds a link in a post that is no longer valid.

Also look to see if other boards are listed, so you can exclude them as well. We already took care of boards that don't start with the same letters as your board, but here is where you look to see if there are any showing up that do. There was one other board showing up in Illusia's search (ID: /bitsthebible), so I excluded it like this:

*/bit*

Remember, if I simply put */bi*, it would exclude MY board, and that defeats the whole purpose of setting up the search engine.


That's it!

Well, not really, but now you should have a functional search engine for your board that searches as much or as little as you want it to.

Freefind also gives you access to logs that can tell you what the most popular keywords are at your board, how many searches are done, etc. To access them, click on the yellow "Reports" tab at the top of the page.

And of course the clincher for me was the ability to make my own custom template for my search results, letting me make it look like the board itself. To use their "easy" customization, click on the yellow "Customize" tab at the top of the page, then use the 1st two links to make those customizations. I hesitate to explain the template method, because if you don't have enough coding experience for it to be self-explanatory, I'll probably go bald trying to explain it to you. emoticon

Last revised by Lesigner Girl, 11/19/2006, 4:28 pm


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10/6/2006, 8:02 am Link to this post PM Lesigner Girl Read Blog
 
jalalski Profile
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Registered: 02-2004
Province: SUTHERLAND, SYDNEY
Posts: 3
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


Hi Lesigner Girl,

Thanks for a super informative and very detailed tutorial for Freefind.

I have just tested it step by step and my site has been indexed.

The number of indexed pages has considerably dropped when I implemented the exclusions as you suggested.

Once thing I noticed though is that not all threads in the Main Chat area of my board have been included in the indexing process and I was wondering if it is because of the Freefind page limit (only 910 pages have been indexed in total for the whole board)


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10/6/2006, 10:03 am Link to this post PM jalalski MSN Read Blog
 
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Minerva
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Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 9597
Karma: 132 (+147/-15)
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


You're welcome, Jalalski, and welcome to Illusia! emoticon

You're right, I just searched for phrases from your 2nd page of topics in the general discussion area and nothing turned up, but it worked fine for page 2 of your Events forum.

I see that multiple pages of each topic are being indexed, so it's possible it could be due to the limit on the amount of data you can index.

If you're already excluding multiple pages of each topic, try adding a couple more lines with question marks, since I see that some of the topics on your board have topic numbers with 6-digit numbers, and the last ? in this exclusion takes the place of the vertical bar in the url. I'll edit these lines into my initial post as well, since others might run into this problem.

*.t???????offset*
*.t????????offset*

If you want to see how close you are to your limit:

Go to your logs
(Reports tab > View log list)
Choose the first "view" link listed
Press (ctrl)+(F) on your keyboard to search for total bytes


Q. How many pages can be indexed?
A. We index sites of all sizes. Many of our sites have in excess of twenty thousand pages.

Free accounts start with an initial limit of 32MB of HTML and/or text (about 3,000 average sized pages). This limit can be increased, and large sites are welcome.

The stat log for Illusia's last spider says:
total bytes: 13,748,231

That is roughly 13MB, but if you want to get more exact, take 13,748,231 and divide that by 1048576
(13,748,231 / 1024 / 1024) = 13.11133...

Last revised by Lesigner Girl, 10/6/2006, 5:53 pm


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10/6/2006, 5:53 pm Link to this post PM Lesigner Girl Read Blog
 
jalalski Profile
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Registered: 02-2004
Province: SUTHERLAND, SYDNEY
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


Hi Lesigner Girl,

I have implemented the exclusion as yuo suggested, this time more pages got indexed, but still not everything in the Main Chat discussion area.

I am way over the limit, sitting at over 48MB.

I wonder what else I can excluse.

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10/7/2006, 11:09 pm Link to this post PM jalalski MSN Read Blog
 
Lesigner Girl Profile
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Minerva
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Registered: 11-2005
Posts: 9597
Karma: 132 (+147/-15)
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


Unless you have an entire forum or two that you are willing to exclude, I can't think of anything else.

You could ask them if they will increase your limit, though.

Free accounts start with an initial limit of 32MB of HTML and/or text (about 3,000 average sized pages). This limit can be increased, and large sites are welcome.

I don't know if you would have to pay for a bigger limit or not, but it can't hurt to ask! emoticon

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10/8/2006, 1:00 am Link to this post PM Lesigner Girl Read Blog
 
jalalski Profile
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Registered: 02-2004
Province: SUTHERLAND, SYDNEY
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


I have now excluded the "Introductions" forum and will see what happens emoticon

Will nicely ask for an increase as well emoticon

Thanks for your help.

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10/8/2006, 2:33 am Link to this post PM jalalski MSN Read Blog
 
Lesigner Girl Profile
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Minerva
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Registered: 11-2005
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


You're very welcome, and good luck! emoticon
Please let me know how it turns out. emoticon

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10/8/2006, 7:16 am Link to this post PM Lesigner Girl Read Blog
 
Pastor Rick Profile
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Citizen

Registered: 07-2005
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


Hi Lesigner Girl,

I put my link for this in my HTML footer until I get it right.

Currently there are some things a search is doing that I don't like:

The searches show up left justified but I would really like to have them in a centered box so it looks more like my own boards layout... (there was more but apparently the spider wasn't finished when I started this post emoticon).

What do I do now that the site is indexed to get it more like what I am wanting?

Last revised by Pastor Rick, 11/19/2006, 6:08 am


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11/19/2006, 4:01 am Link to this post PM Pastor Rick Read Blog
 
Lesigner Girl Profile
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Minerva
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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


Hi Pastor Rick. emoticon

In order to get your Freefind search results looking more like your board, you'll need to use their custom template option.

This may seem daunting to some people, but I think you can handle it. emoticon If anyone reading this has trouble, read and follow each step slowly and carefully, one step at a time, to make sure you're not missing/misinterpreting something, then ask here if you still can't figure it out.

First, open a blank Notepad and paste this in. You will only need to change the parts in red, and the instructions for that will follow the code:

Edit for clarification (Nov 2, 2007): Change only the parts in red, and leave everything else exactly as you see it.

-------------------------

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en">
<head><title>::title::</title>
<style type="text/css">

/* SEE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW FOR CSS */

</style>
</head>
<body>

<!-- HTML HEADER -->

::content::

<!-- HTML FOOTER -->

</body>
</html>

--------------------------

Save the file as freefindtemplate.html or whatever you want to name it, but make sure it ends in .html

Go to the Custom HTML page of your board's control panel, copy the header, and replace <!-- HTML HEADER --> with that. Then copy the HTML footer and replace <!-- HTML FOOTER --> with that. You can save the file again at this point (I like to save often, to prevent losing a lot of changes due to computer freezes, freak power outages, etc).

Now for the CSS. Instead of going to your Custom CSS page to grab your CSS from, you should view the source code at your board, because there will be body and link definitions there that are not in your Custom CSS. You can do this by clicking on "View" in your browser's toolbar, or right-clicking on the page (NOT on an image), then select "View Page Source" or "Page Source," depending on which method and browser you are using.

Then, rather than looking through all that code, let your computer search for it by using the hotkeys [ctrl][f] on your keyboard and typing in "<style" without the quotes.

Copy all the generic stuff between <style type="text/css"> and </style> that is NOT Runboard-specific, and replace /* SEE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW FOR CSS */ with that. For example, .ak_msg_master_table is a class name used at Runboard but not Freefind, so it does no good to add it to your Freefind template. As a general rule, leave out anything that has a dot or # before it (omit: .ak_msg_master_table, .ak_miscoptbar_table, #logged_in, etc), unless it is a name you have created for your board's custom layout (keep: #content, #sidebar, #header, #footer, etc).

CSS that you do want to keep (from your board): I added font definitions since those are in Runboard's default CSS and many people will not have them in their custom CSS. Change them to your liking. I also left out the background-repeat for your body, since "repeat" (both ways) is the default and doesn't need to be defined.

--------------------------

body { background-color: #ffffee; background-image: url(http://www.itsthebible.com/images/RicePaper7.jpg);
 font: 12px verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;
}
form {margin:2px}
blockquote {background-image: url(http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j212/pelinor/quoteleft.gif); background-repeat:no-repeat}
a:link, a:active { color: #770000;text-decoration: underline;
}a:visited { color: #aa2200; text-decoration: underline;
}a:hover { color: #770000; text-decoration: underline overline;
}

--------------------------

There may be other things there that you want to keep, but I went through your CSS quickly and grabbed the most obvious ones. Now, you may save the file again if you wish.

Finally, there are Freefind-specific classes that you may want to add to your CSS. Here is what I have in my template for Illusia:

--------------------------

.search-headline { margin-top: 1.5em; font:bold 110% verdana; display:block;
  
background:#ddd url(http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/4557/marblebg2hu.jpg);
  
border: 1px solid #bbb; color:#444; padding: 0 0.25em; }
.search-headline img { display:none; }
.search-count small { display:block; width: 300px; font-size:11px; padding:5px; }
.search-sitemap form { border: 1px solid #ccc;
  
background:#ddd url(http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/4557/marblebg2hu.jpg); }
.search-footer-table { width:600px; margin:0 auto; }

---------------------------

I put the class names in bold. Define them (or not) as you like. You can also find other class names by viewing the source code of your Freefind results or sitemap pages, following the same steps to view the source code of your board, and using [ctrl][f] to find the text that is affected by any given class name.

Save the file again. If all goes well, this might be the last time you'll need to save it.

You can preview your template at any time before uploading it, by opening the file in Explorer or any of your other browsers. You should see ::title:: in the blue title bar, and ::content:: where the content will be. This will end up being converted to an actual title and content (search results) on your actual search pages.

If you like what you see, then log into Freefind and click on "Upload Custom Template," click on the Browse button, select freefindtemplate.html or whatever you named it, and either use the Preview button to preview it, or Finish if you're ready to upload it.

After uploading your template, do a search and also look at your sitemap, to make sure everything looks the way you want it to look.

You can tweak your template and re-upload it at any time. emoticon

Last revised by Lesigner Girl, 11/3/2007, 3:26 am


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11/19/2006, 4:14 pm Link to this post PM Lesigner Girl Read Blog
 
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Citizen

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Re: Freefind Search for your board (a 3rd party service)


Hi Lesigner Girl,

When looking at the search results generated by FreeFind I noticed names and dates showing in the link description but try as I might and can not seem to get FreeFind to show results when searching for dates! Is there some advanced boolen search trick to make this work?

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11/21/2006, 3:39 am Link to this post PM Pastor Rick Read Blog
 


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