Interview With Oliver – Creator Of WPSeek.com

What was your inspiration for creating WPSeek?
The first idea of wpseek wasn’t actually to create a public search engine for WordPress developers. When I finished creating a little Firefox add-on called “WordPress Helper” [1] some years back, I was using wpseek as a kind of search result page for requests made with the “WordPress Helper” add-on. The idea was that users can highlight functions, template tags or whatever on any page they browse and a mouse click would bring them to a wpseek result page with all of the information that was related to the search term. Having dynamic result pages for various WordPress-related search queries was basically the birth of wpseek as it is now.

WPseek.com Frontpage

How many times have you found yourself using the site for reference?
Well, I find myself using it quite often along with the official Codex and core files while writing plugins. For easy use, I added wpseek to Firefox’ search engines on the upper right so I can look up any function without getting too distracted from writing the actual plugin. Personally I find it pretty handy, and so I hope it is for the majority of users. I think the most useful information for me is the compatibility info (when has a function been introduced and deprecated in WP core). That saved me quite some time I guess. Oh well, where’s the non-narcissistic smilie?

Behind the scenes, can you tell us a little bit about how the site works?
Basically it is a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. The only difference is that you cannot search porn. And it’s a bit more specific and niche business. Apart from that the usage is like with any other search engine: enter a search term (a function, template tag or hook) and the site gives you all the information it has that is related to your search term. This includes general information about the function, code snippets, version info, external links to the Codex, user discussions on the wp.org forums and user notes posted on wpseek.com. There are 8 crawlers doing their job for the site, running periodically from hourly to monthly. Some of them are collecting WP code data from local copies and repositories, others are posting on Twitter occasionally notifying my followers of new WP releases or new functions added to the wpseek database. Recently I wrote a blog post about some of the (publicly visible) bots running on wpseek for those who are interested: http://wpseek.com/blog/2011/twitter-and-the-wpseek-bot/105/

In terms of updating the site with functions, is it automatic or do you have to add everything regarding the function to the site yourself?
Everyone knows that coders (like I am) are lazy folks so everything wpseek does is automated. Means that the foundation of wpseek is – as stated above already – several crawlers and tasks that run periodically in order to catch information related to WordPress code. wpseek currently holds a database of about WP 5,000 functions and 1,500 hooks. It would be impossible for me to keep this data up-to-date on an hourly basis. I do review all the stuff, though. Just to keep track of bugs and inaccurate data.

Search Result Page For A Function On WPSeek

I noticed that WPSeek has an API. What can interested parties do with your API?
The API allows everyone to get all the data that’s stored on the wpseek databases and that can be found on the result pages. Which means function info, code snippets, similar functions etc. The goal was to be able to make wpseek available for any platform. You could set up an iPhone/iPad code lookup app or a web app to lookup function version compatibility including auto-complete. You could actually fork wpseek.com and make your own. Luckily seekwp.com is already taken. For anyone who’s interested, you can find the API (along with a jQuery plugin) here: http://wpseek.com/api/ Feel free to play and do whatever you like with it!

Codex Links In WPSeek Search Results

Do you think WPSeek.com is a better reference to use for help rather than the Codex or do they work hand in hand with each other?
wpseek.com is definitely just one of the MANY WordPress resources out there! And I’m not just saying this because I don’t have another non-narcissistic smilie at hand. The great advantage of the official Codex is that it’s community-driven. wpseek is basically a one-man-show. I usually search the Codex for usage examples. They have a lot in there. More than that, the Codex is like a huge manual for WordPress users while wpseek is just a code search engine. So, yeah, they go hand in hand with each other, just like all WordPress resources out there. I wouldn’t mind a catchall-codex.wordpressp.org-to-wpseek.com redirect, though.

Any last thoughts you wanted to share?
Two things:
1. Good to see you back posting on WPTavern, Jeff!
2. Thanks Andreas Petermann for the regex-o-rama!

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/wordpress-helper/

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