UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

A New Search Interface for HERO

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 Sep 2007

I have been reading the September issue of the HERO Headlines magazine, which provides “the latest news from HERO Ltd, the company behind the UK’s official online gateway to higher education and research opportunities“.

An article in the magazine describes the release of a search tool which can be added to Internet Explorer and Firefox browser to enable the Web site to be searched directly from the browser, without first having to go to the HERO Web site. Use of this search facility to search for articles about UKOLN is shown in the diagram.

Search for 'UKOLN' on Hero Web site

At one stage there was a tendency in various Web development circles that browser-specific enhancements should be avoided, as they don’t necessarily provide universal solutions (in this case, users of the Opera browser may feel disenfranchised). I don’t go along with this argument – I feel that this provides a richer and easier-to-use solution for many users, whilst still allowing users of more specialist browsers (or old versions of Internet Explorer or Firefox) to search the Web site in the traditional way.

Congratulations to HERO for this development. Now how many institutions are configuring their browsers with similar search interfaces for their institutional Web site, I wonder?

6 Responses to “A New Search Interface for HERO”

  1. seb said


    This has just been done by adding an HTML Opensearch feed to their site.

    [link rel=”search” type=”application/opensearchdescription+xml” title=”HERO Search” href=””]

    it would have been even cooler if they added an RSS version. then OTHER sites could have plugged the Hero search in as well . . . .

    go to and then check the options in your Firefox search drop down . . . .


  2. As Seb says, this is a standard. If Opera wanted to support it, they could.

    FWIW Uni of Bath supports this on its internal homepage and has further instructions here: It really is zero work, if you don’t want to do it by hand you can just use

  3. Mike Nolan said

    I can confirm it’s really quite easy! Now what was it I was supposed to be doing…?

  4. Good grief… is this really a good thing? I don’t want a pull-down list of 500 search options thank you very much – in my browser or anywhere else!

    I already have a Hero search engine in my browser – it’s called Google.

  5. Hi Andy
    I don’t want a list of 500 options either – however since Phil pointed out this tool I’ve added search optiopns for JISC and Bath University. I’ve already found it useful – and when I do a Google search for ‘Hero’ the results aren’t so useful.

  6. Andy, it doesn’t auto-install them, you get to choose which ones you want. You only get 500 options if you install them.

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