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Hacking the AWS

Adding your own custom crafted ACP Web Services.


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The whole point of the ACP Web Services is that you don't have to wait for a vendor update to get more goodies - you add the new services yourself. And learning how to create your own new ACP web services is not at all difficult. It takes nine steps.

  1. Choose a website and try a search. Copy out the resulting URL. For example, searching at Google for 'Google' results in:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Google&btnG=Search

    Copy it out.

  2. Remove the http:// prefix. (HTTP is the default for the AWS.)

    www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Google&btnG=Search

  3. Find your search word in the URL and move it to the end of the URL.

    www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Google&btnG=Search
    www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&btnG=Search&q=Google


    Note: ampersands separate arguments; the question mark introduces them.

  4. Remove your search word. What's left is your AWS query string.

    www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&btnG=Search&q=

  5. Open your AWS Manager application. Go to Edit-Add (⌥⌘↩).

  6. Make up a name for the menu item and put it in the first box.

  7. Put your query string in the second box.

  8. Click OK to save and close the sheet.

  9. Update your Services menu with ASM-Update Services (⌘S) and exit.

Once Again

Adding a service once you have the query string is the easy part; crafting the query string is where you have to think and work.

HTTP is the default scheme for AWS, but AWS also recognises most common schemes - with the notable exception of FTP which could cause Finder to be launched (and we can't have that).

The actual query string for the above search disregarding the arguments is:

www.google.com/search

Arguments are introduced with a question mark and separated by ampersands.

Many arguments can be extraneous. In the above example all but one are extraneous (for most people) so the query string can be reduced to:

www.google.com/search?q=

The reason it can be so reduced is that:

  1. If English is your default language, hl=en can be removed as English is Google's default language too.
  2. lr has no value so it's not being used. (The default isn't being overridden.)
  3. You can find out by testing that btnG=Search is also a default.

Not all web resources use the same method. For example, Dogpile's web search simply wants a query string at the end of the following.

dogpile.com/info.dogpl/search/web/

Wikipedia is even easier.

wikipedia.org/wiki/

Some resources don't name the search key.

www.sdsc.edu/~hutton/cgi-bin/tracert.cgi?

Others use a slightly different syntax.

anon.free.anonymizer.com/
bugmenot.com/view.php?url=
google.com/search?q=define:
google.com/search?q=related:

By playing around with online search engines you can quickly add new services to your Services menu on your own. You don't have to wait for your vendor to make them for you. (Which is the whole point.)

But you can always wander over to the CLIX forum with your discoveries so others can benefit.

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