4sysops-federated-search Windows 7 Federated Search is a new feature that allows users to search remote repositories using Windows Explorer. In earlier Windows versions, the repository has to run Windows Search, but thanks to the support of OpenSearch in Windows 7, you can now integrate any website or web service into your desktop search environment.

To demonstrate how easy it is, I have created an OpenSearch connector for 4sysops. After you have downloaded the OSDX file (right click to save the file), you have to double click it. Windows will ask you if you want to add this search connector. Of course ! Windows Explorer will then display a new shortcut named "4sysops"in the Favorites section in the navigation pane. To search 4sysops, you can now use the Windows Explorer if you click on this icon.

The search results page looks better than in Vista. The search term is highlighted in the title and the excerpt. On the right hand pane, you can see the author's name, the publication date, and the tags. Double clicking on a search result will open the corresponding page in your default web browser.

Just in case you want to delete the 4sysops search connector (which I don't believe you will), you'll find all installed connectors in the user profile (c:\users\[user name]\searches). The shortcut in the Windows Explorer Favorites has to be removed as well.

Creating a search connector is fairly simply. The OSDX file for 4sysops looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<OpenSearchDescription xmlns="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/"> <ShortName>4sysops</ShortName>
<Description>4sysops - For Windows Administrators</Description>
<Url type="application/rss+xml" template="https://4sysops.com/index.php?feed=rss2&amp;s={searchTerms}"/>

I think, the XML file is mostly self-explanatory. The interesting parameter is the template variable. OpenSearch uses RSS or Atom XML for providing search results. In WordPress (the blog engine on which 4sysops runs), a query URL that produces RSS as output looks like this: https://4sysops.com/ ?feed=rss2&s=applocker. In this example, I searched for "applocker". Notice that you have to replace "&" with "&amp;" in the OSDX file.

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As you can see, it is quite simple to create your own search connectors for Windows 7. Of course, things will get more complicated if your CMS or repository does not support RSS or Atom-based search results. Also note that my example is very simple. More information about Windows 7 Federated Search can be found here.