Direct Search for iPad

1. Introduction

When you use a search engine, such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google or Yahoo, the search results are pages and pages of links you need to comb through. It is not uncommon to click on lots of links with interesting descriptions until your find the most relevant ones. After checking out 4-5 pages of links you give up. Then you may refine the search criteria and do the whole process all over again.

Now you can search a set of URLs directly using the same search criteria. The search results are not links, but a set of mini-browsers for each URL. Now you can easily examine each, delete the irrelevant ones and decide which ones to concentrate on. Each mini-browser can be displayed full screen or in Safari where you have full conrol over it, e.g., printing it, bookmarking it, adding it to your reading list or viewing the webpage ad free.

Direct search is a great way to do comparative shopping. Say you find an item in a Brick & Mortar business and want to compare its price with other online retailers. Or you want to take in a movie and want to simultaneously check out the next showing at multiple movie theaters nearby. Or you need to find an apartment and want to examine multiple apartment sites for the best deal. Or you are planning a vacation, say a cruise, and want to check out prices on multiple cruise lines for the near same same route. Or you are trying to find a job and want to check out available positions on multiple job sites.

Not only are you presented with a large number of search categories, each with numerous associated URLs, but you can manage the list, deleting categories and URLs not of interest and adding your own categories and URLs for your favorite websites.

2. Overview

When the app is launched, the following initial view is displayed:

Initial View

The screen is split into 2 panels. The left panel is where category actions are made while the right panel is where the search results are displayed. The right panel is also used to display documentation and input dialogs.

When the app is launched the very first time, a set of predefined categories and their associated URLs are loaded and saved to the device. Subsequent launches automatically restore the category list saved on the device. During a session each category and/or its URLs can easily be modified at any time and saved to the device by tapping the Save icon ( Save Icon ); see below.

Above the list of categories is a Navigation bar:

  • Tips button: Depending on what app feature is currently in use, there are tips to guide and clarify actions to take. Tap the Tips icon ( Tips Icon ) to display the tips popover. Tap anywhere outside the popover to close it. For example, here is the Tips popover when the category list is displayed:
    Category Tips
  • Title: The center of the navigation bar is a description of the content displayed below.
  • Save button: Tap the Save icon ( Save Icon ) at any time to save category changes to your device. They will be automatically restored in another session. The Save icon turns black when any changes have been made to the category list and its URLs. This serves as a reminder changes were made that should be saved; otherwise, they will be lost if the app is shut down.
    Save Categories

    If the category changes are successfully saved, the Save icon is turned back to orange.

    WARNING: If you delete the app, all data associated with it is deleted, namely, your saved categories and their URLs.

  • Menu button: Tap the menu icon ( Menu Icon ) to display the menu popover from which you can access the User Guide, take a quick tour of the app, send e-mail feedback to the developer or rate the app in the App Store, for example.
    Menu

Below the Navigation bar is a search text field for entering a search criteria followed by a list of categories in alphabetical order. Each category has an icon to the left of its name that helps visually identify the category. Each category has a set of related URLs, the number given in parentheses. Tap the category to expose its URLs. The category list is scrollable. Note: The content of the search field always contains what can be searched – the category list itself for a named URL, a selected category or a selected category URL.

3. App Features

  • Initially provides a predefined set of 145+ search categories each with a set of associated URLs to search – 1,170+ curated URLs overall.
  • Search a category’s related URLs directly and display each URL’s webpage showing its search results for the specified search criteria. A category’s URL can be excluded from the search.
  • A category’s URL can be searched separately.
  • The category list can be searched for a URL by name.
  • Ability to go directly to a URL’s website without a search criteria.
  • A category can be deleted and a new one added.
  • A category’s URL can be repositioned within the category and included/excluded in a category search.
  • A URL can be deleted from a category or a new one added to the category.
  • Deleted categories and URLs can be reinstated.
  • Ability to change the name of a category.
  • Ability to change the name of a URL, and copy and/or move it to another category.
  • Category changes can be saved to the device at any time and automatically restored in another session.
  • User Guide documents how to use the app and its features. Includes a section of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
  • Quick Tour of the app, available on demand, that enumerates its features.
  • Ability to rate the app in the App Store.
  • Ability to send e-mail to the developer to report issues, make improvement suggestions or ask questions.

4. Search Alternatives

4A. Search for a URL

Without a category selected, enter the domain name of a category’s URL in the search field and then tap the keyboard Search key. The name is case insensitive. If the URL exists, the first category containing it will be opened.

For example, if the URL is http://www.wolframalpha.com, the search criteria “wolfram” or “wolframalpha” would find it. The http, www and .com are not necessary.

Search For Url

If the named URL does not exist, a warning dialog will be displayed:
No Named Url

4B. Search a Category

Search Category

In the category list, tap a category to expose its URLs. If the category has no URLs the tap is ignored. To exclude a category’s URL from being searched, tap the URL’s name. Its ✓ will be changed to an X. Tap the name again and the X will be changed back to a ✓.

Tap the search field and enter the search criteria, which is converted to lower case Tap the keyboard’s Search key and the search results will be displayed in the right panel. The search results is a list of Safari mini-browsers each containing a URL’s search results. The list is scrollable and in the order of the URLs.

Search Category Results

Webpages load at different rates, so give them some time to load before scrolling the mini-browsers. If a webpage doesn’t completely load, tap its refresh button.

Some webpages may be overlayed with an advertisement or a form to sign up/login and you cannot see it in its entirety; you cannot scroll these webpages. In these cases, tap the Safari button to show the webpage full screen.

To remove a search result, tap its X. To reload a search result, tap its refresh icon. To display a search result full screen in Safari, tap its Safari icon. Tap its Done button to close it. The app’s orientation may be upside down, but will automatically be rotated to correct the orientation. To avoid this hold the iPad with the Home button on the right side.

Note: When the webpage is scrolled in Safari, the Done button will be obscured. Tap the navigation bar to expose it or scroll back to the top of the webpage.

Each webpage can be navigated within its mini-browser. Use its < button to navigate Back and > button to navigate Forward. Tap on the webpage’s title to display its main webpage. Its search results are scrollable. Some webpages may have a fixed width and have to be scrolled left to see all of it.

Tap the Clear button to remove all search results.

4C. Search a URL

Search Category Url

In the category list, tap a category to expose its URLs. Tap one of its URL’s icon to select it for singular search; its background color is changed. Tap the icon again to unselect the URL.

A URL marked with a Onsite Search means the search criteria must be entered on the webpage. Tap it to go directly to the website.

Swipe a URL right to go directly to the website with no search criteria.

Tap the search field and enter the search criteria, which is converted to lower case. Tap the keyboard’s Search key and the search results will be displayed full screen.

Search Category Url Results

To reload the search result, tap its refresh icon. Tap the Safari button to display the search result full screen in Safari.

The webpage can be navigated within its mini-browser. Its search results are scrollable. Use its < button to navigate Back and > button to navigate Forward. Tap on the webpage’s title to display its main webpage. Its search results are scrollable. Some webpages may have a fixed width and have to be scrolled left to see all of it.

Tap the Done button when finished. The app’s orientation may be upside down, but will automatically be rotated to correct the orientation. To avoid this hold the iPad with the Home button on the right side.

Note: When the webpage is scrolled, the Done button will be obscured. Tap the navigation bar to expose it or scroll back to the top of the webpage.

5. Manage Category List

If a category is not relevant to you, it can be deleted. With no category selected, tap the Edit button.

Edit Category List

Tap a category’s Delete Icon and Delete is displayed. Tap Delete to remove the category. Tap anywhere else to cancel the delete.

Tap Done when finished.

The Save icon ( Save Icon ) will turn black reminding you to save the changes to your device.

Alternatively, swipe a category left and tap the displayed Delete.

6. Manage Category’s URLs

If a category’s URL is not relevant to you, it can be deleted. Tap a category to expose its URLs; there may be none.  The name of the category will be displayed in the search input field. Tap the Edit button to manage the URL list.

Edit Category URLs

Tap a URL’s Delete Icon and Delete is displayed. Tap Delete to delete the URL. Tap anywhere else to cancel the delete.

Note: An alternate way to delete a category’s URL is to simply swipe it left, which displays Delete and tap it.

To reposition a URL in the list, press its move grabber ( ☰ ), then drag&drop it to the desired position. Moving the URL outside its category will reposition it at the top/bottom.

Tap Done when finished.

The Save icon ( Save Icon ) will turn black reminding you to save the changes to your device.

If all URLs in a category are deleted, the category is no longer selected. Tap Edit if you want to delete the empty category (see above)

7. Add New Category

Add Category

With no category selected, tap the + button to add a new category. An add dialog is displayed in the right panel. Text fields that need to be entered are marked with an *.

The name of the new category must be entered first, after which 1 or more URLs can be added to it. Once the name of the new category is entered, tap Add to add it to the category list. The category’s name must be unique to the category list. If not a warning message is displayed. Change its name and Add again.

Duplicate Category Name

Then enter the information for a new URL:

  • Enter the name of the URL
  • Enter the URL’s main address, e.g., amazon.com or http://amazon.com or http://www.amazon.com. Its icon will be determined and displayed to the left. Trying to finding the icon can take up to 10+ seconds, especially if the URL is bogus and its server cannot be found. The keyboard will retract when it is (not) found. For a URL that does not have an icon the WWW icon ( WWW Icon ) is used.

    Note: If the URL ends in a special character, e.g., a slash ( / ), you MUST include it.

    If the entered URL is invalid, i.e., has incorrect syntax or the website doesn’t exist, a warning is displayed:

    Invalid URL

    Instead of a warning message, it is possible in finding the URL’s icon the URL was directed to a domain seller and their icon will be displayed. If you don’t recognize the icon, check the spelling of the URL and enter it again.
  • If the URL’s main address can be searched, search the website and cut&paste the search URL in Safari’s address field to the Search URL field or type it in. Note: If you are providing a search URL, use at least a 2 word search criteria.
  • Tap the Add URL button to append the URL to the category’s URL list. The URL’s name must be unique to the category. If not a a warning message is displayed. Change its name and Add again.
    Duplicate Url Name
  • Add another URL as just described.

Tap Close when finished. If you tap Close without entering any URLs, you can do it later by adding a URL to a category. See the next section “Add New URL”.

The Save icon ( Save Icon ) will turn black reminding you to save the changes to your device.

See below for an example of how to add a URL to a category.

8. Add New URL

Add URL

Tap the category you want to add a new URL to even if it is empty. The name of the category will be displayed in the search input field. Then tap the + button to add a new URL to the category. Text fields that need to be entered are marked with an *.

  • Enter the name of a URL.
  • Enter the URL’s main address, e.g., amazon.com or http://amazon.com or http://www.amazon.com. Its icon will be determined and displayed to the left. Trying to finding the icon can take up to 10+ seconds, especially if the URL is bogus and its server cannot be found. The keyboard will retract when it is (not) found. For a URL that does not have an icon the WWW icon ( WWW Icon ) is used.

    Note: If the URL ends in a special character, e.g., a slash ( / ), you MUST include it.

    If the entered URL is invalid, i.e., has incorrect syntax or the website doesn’t exist, a warning is displayed:

    Invalid URL

    Instead of a warning message, it is possible in finding the URL’s icon the URL was directed to a domain seller and their icon will be displayed. If you don’t recognize the icon, check the spelling of the URL and enter it again.
  • If the URL’s main address can be searched, search the website and cut&paste the search URL in Safari’s address field to the Search URL field or type it in. Note: If you are providing a search URL, use at least a 2 word search criteria.
  • Tap the Add button to append the URL to the category’s URL list. The URL’s name must be unique to the category. If not a a warning message is displayed. Change its name and Add again.
    Duplicate Url Name
  • Add another URL as just described.

Tap Close when finished.

The Save icon ( Save Icon ) will turn black reminding you to save the changes to your device.

Example: Suppose you want to add LG smartphones to the Mobile Phones category.

  • Enter the name of the URL: LG
  • Enter the base URL: lg.com/us/cell-phones. The app will find the LG icon.
  • In Safari, enter the URL and in the webpage search for “mobile deals”. In the address field, press on the URL, then select Copy.
    Copy Search URL
  • Press in the Search URL text field and select Paste.
    Paste Search RUL

    Pasted Search URL
  • Tap Add to append the LG URL to the end of the category’s URL list.
    Add URL

Afterwards test the new URL using the same search criteria used in the Search URL. Also, swipe the URL right to check it’s base URL is directly accessed.

Note: If analysis of the Search URL cannot determine from the search URL how to directly search the website, a Onsite Search will be displayed next to the URL name. It will also be displayed if no Search URL is entered.

9. Edit a Category

If the name of a category is not meaningful enough to you, its name can be changed. To edit a category, press and hold on its name. The edit dialog will be displayed in the right pane.

Edit Category

Modify or change the name of the category. Then tap the Apply button. The dialog will close. The renamed category will appear in alphabetical order within the category list. The Save icon ( Save Icon ) will turn black reminding you to save the changes to your device.

If a category already exists with the changed name, an error message dialog is displayed.

Tap the Cancel button to cancel the edit changes.

10. Edit a Category URL

With a category selected, press and hold on one of its URLs to edit it. The edit dialog will appear in the right pane.

Edit Category URL

The following changes can be made to a URL:

  • Modify or change the name of the URL.
  • The URL can be moved to another category. Tap the Move To button and the category list will be displayed. Tap the category to move to. To cancel making a selection, tap outside the list popover.
  • The URL can be copied to another category. Tap the Copy To button and the category list will be displayed. Tap the category to copy to. To cancel making a selection, tap outside the list popover.
  • To remove the selected category to move/copy to, tap its Undo button.
  • A URL can be Moved and Copied to different categories. An error message dialog is displayed if the URL already exists in the target category.
  • When finished with the edit changes, tap the Apply button. The dialog will close.

Tap the Cancel button to cancel the edit changes.

The Save icon ( Save Icon ) will turn black reminding you to save the changes to your device.

11. Reinstate Delete Categories & URLs

Deleted categories and URLs can be reinstated any time. Tap the menu icon ( Menu Icon ) to display the menu popover; select Reinstate Deleted Items. A list of deleted items will be displayed in the right pane. The names of the categories and their URLs are their original names. If a category or URL were renamed before being deleted, they will be reinstated under that name. Regardless of when the categories were deleted, they are presented in alphabetical order.

Deleted Items

  • To reinstate a category, press and hold on the category. Tap OK in the confirmation dialog or Cancel to cancel the reinstatement.
    Reinstate Category

    The reinstated category will appear expanded in the main category list and it will be removed from the Deleted Items list.
  • Reinstated Category

  • To reinstate selected URLs in a category, tap the category to expand it exposing its deleted URLs. Tap a URL to remove it from being reinstated when the category is reinstated. Restore the category as just described.
    Reinstate URLs

    Tap the category in the main category list and those URLs selected to be reinstated will appear at the end of its list of URLs. Those URLs selected to not be reinstated will be removed from the category’s list of URLs in the Deleted Items.
  • Reinstated URLs

  • To reinstate a single URL in a deleted category, tap the category to expose its deleted URLs. Press and hold the URL to be reinstated. In the confirmation dialog, tap OK to reinstate the URL and Cancel to cancel the reinstatement.
    Reinstate URL

    If the URL already exists in the target category, an error message is displayed stating it couldn’t be reinstated and why. Otherwise the URL’s category will be displayed expanded in the main category list with the reinstated URL. The URL will be deleted from the category in the Deleted Items list.
  • Reinstated URL

12. Import New Categories & URLs

There are no new items to import in v1. This section will describe how to to the import in subsequent releases of the app.

13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How do I save my changes to the category list? Answer
  2. How do I restore my saved list of category changes? Answer
  3. How do I add a new URL to a category, especially with a search URL? Answer
  4. Can I move and/or copy a URL to another category? Answer
  5. Can I delete a category or URLs in a category? Answer
  6. Can I reorder URLs in a category? Answer
  7. Can I rename a category or URL? Answer
  8. How do I know if a URL is in the category list? Answer
  9. Can I reinstate categories and URLs I deleted? Answer

Answers:

1. How do I save my changes to the category list?

The first time the app is launched, the search categories are populated with a predefined set of categories and their associated URLs. The list is immediately saved to your device. If you make any changes to the categories or their URLs, you need to tap the Save icon ( Save Icon ) to save the changes; otherwise, they will be lost if you exit the app. The Save icon will turn black when changes are made. Once saved the icon will turn orange.

2. How do I restore my saved list of category changes?

The list of categories and their associated URLs are automatically restored when you launch the app another time. The state of the list is exactly the same as when the changes were saved.

3. How do I add a new URL to a category, especially with a search URL?

See here for explicit instructions on adding a URL. Note: If you are providing a search URL, use at least a 2 word search criteria.

4. Can I move and/or copy a URL to another category?

You can do both as long as they are to different categories.

  • Select a category, then press and hold on one of its URLs to edit it.
  • In the Edit URL dialog, tap the Move/Copy To button and the category list will be displayed. Tap the category to move/copy to.
  • When finished editing, tap Apply.

5. Can I delete a category or URLs in a category?

You can do both, but the deletions can be reinstated at any time. One reason you may choose to do this is because the category or URLs are not relevant to your interests.

  • With no selected category, tap Edit. All categories will have a delete icon ( Delete Icon ) to the left of its name. Tap it and a red Delete button will appear to the right of its name.Tap it to remove the category.
  • Or, with a category selected, tap Edit. All of the category’s URLs will have a delete icon ( Delete Icon ) to the left of its name. Tap it and a red Delete button will appear to the right of its name.Tap it to remove the URL.

6. Can I reorder URLs in a category?

Yes. One reason is to put more relevant URLs near the top for the order of the URLs is the order of the search results.

  • With a category selected, tap Edit. A move grabber ( ☰ ) is displayed to the far right of each URL’s name.
  • Press a URL’s move grabber ( ☰ ), then drag&drop it to the desired position.

7. Can I rename a category or URL?

Yes. One reason is to change the name to something more meaningful and identifiable to you.

  • Press and hold on the name of the category/URL you want to change. An edit dialog will be displayed.
  • In the edit dialog, change the name of the category/URL and tap Apply. The renamed category will appear in alphabetical order within the category list. The position of the URL does not change.

8. How do I know if a URL is in the category list?

With no category selected, enter the domain name of a URL. For example, amazon.com. If the URL is in the list, the first category containing it will be opened exposing the URL. Otherwise, a dialog will be displayed stating the URL does not exist in the list.

9. Can I reinstate categories and URLs I deleted?

Yes. A list of deleted items is maintained by the app.

  • Tap the menu icon ( Menu Icon ) to display the menu popover. Select Reinstate Deleted Items.
  • To reinstate a category: In the displayed categories, press and hold on the category. Tap OK in the confirmation dialog.
  • To only reinstate some of the category’s deleted URLs, tap the category and then tap the URLs to exclude.
  • To reinstate a URL: Tap a category to expand it exposing its deleted URLs. Press and hold on the URL. Tap OK in the confirmation dialog.

See above for more detailed instructions.