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Create a search engine for your Dreamweaver website

Every website needs a search engine these days. You may have noticed that users have become increasingly demanding in recent years - people are expecting to find exactly what they're looking for at the click of a button. If they don't find it within two or three clicks, they will instinctively reach for the dreaded 'Close window' button or wander off to another website.

Zoom is a software package that allows you to create a powerful custom search engine to your website. It is unlike other search solutions in that it gives you full control over its indexing capabilities, and there is no advertising or annual fees. It is also easy to use and install - you can literally have your new search engine up and running in minutes.

What you will need

  • The Zoom Dreamweaver Extension (free download - see below)
  • A Windows (98 or later) computer from which to run the Zoom Indexer software
  • A web server or hosting plan which supports either PHP, ASP, or CGI is preferred but you can also use the more limited Javascript version of Zoom if they are not available.

Note: Zoom is compatible with MS Vista

Download the Zoom Dreamweaver Extension

The Zoom Search Engine is available as a Dreamweaver Extension which can be installed and integrated with your Macromedia Dreamweaver web development environment. Zoom is also available as a stand-alone package for searching other websites, Intranet and even CD-ROMs (see the Zoom website for details).

Download the Zoom Dreamweaver Extension now (3.3 MB)
(compatible with Dreamweaver 4.01 through CS3)

This is a MXP file and must be installed with the Macromedia/Adobe Extension Manager. See the Installation instructions below. Note that this Extension includes the full Zoom Search Engine package, and you do not need to install the "normal" release for this to work (nor will it interfere if you do).

Zoom is free for small websites of up to 50 pages. For larger sites, commercial editions are available. For most people, the Professional Edition is suitable, which indexes up to 200,000 pages and costs only US$99. A detailed comparison of the different editions available can be found here.


After downloading the MXP file, start up Dreamweaver, click on the the "Help" menu, and select "Manage Extensions..."

This will open the Extension Manager window. Click on "File" and select "Install Extension...". Now locate the MXP file you have downloaded and click "Install". Proceed with the following steps that appear. When the installation has completed, you should see something like the following screenshot.

You will have to restart Dreamweaver for the installation to complete.

Using the Zoom Dreamweaver Extension

Under the "Commands" menu in Dreamweaver, there are two new options: "Index site with Zoom Search Engine" and "How to create a Search Page for your site".

Selecting "Index Site with Zoom Search Engine" will start the Zoom Indexer. You use this to scan through the contents of your site to create the files required for the search engine. You also use this to update your search engine when you make changes in your website.

The Indexer lets you select from Offline mode or Spider mode.

  • Spider mode is used to index your online site, and the content of the files already uploaded to your web site. Here you will have to enter a Start Spider URL for it to begin, usually this is the front page of your site (eg. http://www.mysite.com/index.html). The output directory is defaulted to your Dreamweaver Site settings.
  • Offline mode is used to index the local files of your site, sitting on your computer's hard disk. This includes pages and files you have not yet uploaded to your web site. The start and output directories are defaulted to your Dreamweaver Site settings.

You will also have to select the appropriate script/platform for your site - depending on what your web server supports. The choices available are PHP, ASP, JavaScript or CGI. If you are not sure what to select, please visit the support page on Platform Choices for more information.

Once properly configured, Zoom will be able to scan through all the pages of your site and create a set of index files for your search engine.

Spider indexing - scans an online hosted website by spider crawling the links it finds


Zoom can FTP upload files to your web server. It will remember your settings and can be configured to automatically upload after every indexing.

These files will then need to be uploaded to your web server. Zoom has built-in FTP functionality so it can do this for you.

We recommend you use Zoom's FTP functionality because some FTP clients (such as Dreamweaver's) may incorrectly upload the files in Text mode. All files should be uploaded in Binary mode.

Once the files are correctly uploaded, you will be able to access your new search engine by entering in the URL to the search page in your web browser. For example, if you selected the PHP version, and uploaded your files to a sub-folder named "search", your new search page will be at http://www.mysite.com/search/search.php

Enter in some search words and give it a try!

As you will notice, the default search page has not yet been customized to suit the look and feel of your website. To do this, open the "search_template.html" file (or "search.html" file if you are using the Javascript option) in Dreamweaver. Modify this page to match the rest of your site (add your headers and footers, etc.). Note however, that the <!--ZOOMSEARCH--> comment must remain. Do not remove this tag because it marks the place where the search form and search results will be injected into the template.

This is just the tip of the iceberg! There is a myriad of options you can choose from to enable highlighting, sorting by dates, categories, and much more. Now that you have a working search page however, you can pry deeper into Zoom's settings. Everything from colours, fonts and page layout, to the text messages that appear can be changed to your liking. More comprehensive information about using and configuring your Zoom Search Engine can be found in the Users Guide which is available as a free download. The file is in PDF format. Right-click the link below and use your browser's context menu to save the file to your local computer.

ZoomSearch Users Guide (2.5MB PDF)



If you have problems with using or installing the Dreamweaver Extension, please check the FAQ page for Dreamweaver here.

There is also an extensive online support section and a Discussion Forum for seeking and sharing tips and advice.