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On ACP Web Services 2.0.0.2

They're brilliant - as long as you understand them.


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The documentation for the ACP Web Services is pure crap. That's just a fact. The concept is admirably simple. But trying to convey that concept seems a high hurdle. Those who use them love them. But a lot of people don't have a FC what's going on.

Searching the Old Way

This is about about searches. About getting information. The question is how easy it is, how fast it is, how efficient it is.

The old way goes something like this.

  1. Decide what you want to search for. This can be a term in a mail message, something you see on a web page, something you find in a text file - anything. You make up your mind and you're ready to proceed to the next step.
  2. Fire up your favourite search tool. This can be a Dashboard widget, a website, a Konfabulator widget - whatever you want. Find it, launch it, and proceed to the next step.
  3. Enter your search key. You'll have to type this in. Yes what a bother.

Searching the New Way

The new way goes something like this.

  1. Decide what you want to search for. Double-click it.
  2. Select your search tool from the Services menu. You've arrived.

There's less typing - there's no typing at all. All you have to do is double-click. Once.

Why Two Googles?

There are two Google menu items in the image on the right. Why?

Simple. The one - 'Search With Google ⇧⌘L' - comes from Safari.



That menu item's in Safari's Info.plist.

<dict>
    <key>NSKeyEquivalent</key>
    <dict>
        <key>default</key>
        <string>L</string>
    </dict>
    <key>NSMenuItem</key>
    <dict>
        <key>default</key>
        <string>Search With Google</string>
    </dict>
    <key>NSMessage</key>
    <string>searchWithGoogle</string>
    <key>NSPortName</key>
    <string>Safari</string>
    <key>NSSendTypes</key>
    <array>
        <string>NSStringPboardType</string>
    </array>
</dict>

And that Info.plist is protected by the code signing on the application bundle. As Safari is a web app it's going to need to be untampered with to operate properly. Muck with Info.plist and Safari will refuse to use your keychain file. Bummer.

So you settle for having 'Search With Google ⇧⌘L'. (Maybe you file a bug report to Apple.)

The other 'Google' comes from the ACP Web Services - and predates Safari's by a lot. That menu item is arbitrary. You can remove it at any time. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to it too if you want.



But you can assign anything you want to that menu item. Or any other. You can search through Google 搜尋 (Google Hong Kong) if you want. You name it. Safari can't do that.



You can search through Japanese ウィキペディア (Wikipedia) if you want.



You can put the menu items anywhere you want - on the main menu or on a submenu of your own. It's up to you.

All you do is find something you want to know more about (or it finds you). Then you double-click and away you go. Widgets can't compete.

Next: Setting It Up ›

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