We have to face facts: Google rules free searching (at least in the US). And why shouldn’t we love Google? It offers a clean, easy search interface for a wide range of content types (including patents), and users can access additional free resources on Google, like Gmail and Google+, simply by creating an account. Google is king of search, but there are definitely competitors for the throne. Enter Exalead.
Exalead has been called “Google on Steroids” and the “French Google.” According to an article from TechCrunch Europe, the Exalead company was founded in 2000 in France, and it was acquired by Dassault Systemes in June 2010. Through the free search platform on the Exalead website, users can search for web results, images, videos, and Wikipedia articles. An Exalead Desktop feature for searching through personal files is also available. How do Exalead search features rival Google? And how useful is Exalead in locating prior art?
Read on to discover four unique features of Exalead, and see how these features compare with Google’s. Then decide for yourself which search engine is king!
1. Advanced Search Options Entered Directly into Search Form
Google takes the user to a separate advanced search form for each search type (Web, Images, Videos, etc). Exalead Advanced Search options appear as a drop-down menu below the search form, where users select the search criteria that will be entered directly into the search form. A different set of advanced search options is available for each search type in Exalead. This format of entering the criteria directly into the search form through a drop-down menu produces a simpler interface than Google’s multiple advanced search forms. Exalead’s advanced search format provides the benefits of a command line interface, with the full query accessible in one form and all search syntax visible, and the drop-down menu options simplify the query creation. Prior art searchers will have an easier time saving their queries through this command-line-like format, since the query can simply be copied from the search form and pasted in a Word document for the purpose of documenting your search history.
2. Filters, Related Terms, and Thumbnails in Search Results
Google does offer some filtering tools in the search results, such as the option to filter by document type and the “more search tools” option where users can filter by time range (along with other additional limiters). Users can select to view a preview of search results in Google, although previews aren’t available for some results. No “related terms” options are available in Google.
Within the search results for Exalead, a different set of filtering options is available for each search type:
- Web – Filter by site type, file type, related terms, language, or country of origin.
- Image – Filter by size, content (face), realism (graphic or photo), file type, orientation (landscape or portrait), and color.
- Video – Filter by source and category.
- Wikipedia – View related terms in a tag cloud, organized into four types: Category, People, Location, and Organization.
A thumbnail image of the website, picture, or video is shown for each search result, although the preview images for websites are much smaller on Exalead than they are on Google. Related search terms are listed directly beneath the search form on the results page, and additional related terms and categories are listed in the filtering options for Web and Wikipedia filters. Prior art searchers can use these filters to narrow their search queries to focus on more relevant content, or they can use the related terms to broaden their query. The thumbnail images allow for quicker browsing for prior art searchers sifting through large numbers of search results, since the user often only needs to glance at the thumbnail view to judge the site’s relevance.
3. Thumbnail Bookmarks
On Google, users can choose the “+1″ option to recommend a page directly from the search results, but no bookmarking option are available on the search results list. On Exalead, registered users can select the “Bookmark” option below any search result to add the result to a list of saved sites, accessible on the Exalead homepage as a collection of image thumbnails. One unusual glitch I encountered was that the image thumbnails, which appeared normally in the search results, became the default “?” symbol in the bookmarked results. It is unclear whether this is a permanent or temporary issue.
4. Exalead Desktop
Google has been cleaning house, and the Google Desktop feature was recently discontinued. The Google Desktop Blog states that “as of September 14, Google Desktop will no longer be available for download, and existing installations will not be updated to include new features or fixes.” Luckily, an alternative is available. Exalead Desktop is a free download that offers:
- One-click tabbing between Desktop, Web, Image, Video and Wikipedia search. (See the above image. The “My PC” tab is the search option for Exalead Desktop through the main search form.)
- Optional tag cloud display for related terms.
- Customization of the “Narrow your search” navigation tools.
Exalead is a free search platform that has existed for nearly a decade, and it has developed a range of search features that rival, and sometimes exceed, the features of Google search. The format of advanced search options on Exalead offers a simpler interface than Google’s multiple advanced search forms. The filtering and related terms features on Exalead offer searchers a useful set of tools for refining or expanding their search query, and the image thumbnails allow users to quickly judge the relevance of a results without having to actually click through to the website. Google does offer a larger preview option of websites than Exalead’s small thumbnails, which makes it easier to judge website relevance through the Google results page.
Exalead also has a desktop search feature and a bookmarking option directly from the results page, both features which Google now lacks. The thumbnail images don’t display correctly on the bookmark section for Exalead, but this glitch may be a temporary issue. Exalead isn’t a replacement for Google (or any subscription non-patent literature database), but the search platform does possess search features that complement Google’s.
Have you used Exalead? How do you think it compares to Google? Let us know in the comments!
This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.