Link: Exalead Beta. I've been playing around with the new beta version of Exalead recently. I have to say that I like it. It's undergone quite radical changes from the ground up. The home page is cleaner, with the (new) logo centre stage. A lot of the options that were on the old home page (language, advanced search, preferences, help and download) have now been shifted out, leaving Advanced search and Preferences as options, together with the usual options for short cut links to favourite pages.
The other major difference is that there is now an option for image searching. Image searching is ok, giving total number of results and displays of images 4x6. Titles, pixel size, file size and URL are given. Clicking on an image takes users to a preview page at Exalead with the original page in a frame - nothing odd there. A nice option is that you can then click to scroll to the next image and that will then be displayed in the same way inside a frame, so users are essentially quickly scrolling through pages. Image search can be refined by size, wallpapers, colour/greyscale, layout or filetype, with a 'search within results' option.
Web searching also looks rather different now, and much less cluttered. On the left hand side we are presented with page thumbnails (inside of the right hand side with the current version). The options such as related terms, related categories, website location and so are now contained in a small 'Refine your search' dialogue box. The options now given include rich content (audio/RSS/video), geographic location, file type, categories, languages and related terms. Disappointingly the Modify query by phonetic search or approximate search has gone.
Advanced search is now offered in a small popup box, rather than a fresh webpage. The user is prompted with a search box and options called What? (including exact phrase, forbidden terms, truncation, phonetic search (Ah, that's where it's gone!), approximate spelling, proximity, logical/Boolean searches and regular expressions. Other options include Where? for country based pages (although confusingly while I can limit by Europe in the easy search interface that doesn't seem an option in the advanced interface) and language. I can also limit to a given site, file format, title, URL or link. Clicking on any of these options gives me my original search term plus the option I've chosen with a prompt in (brackets) to type words here.
There is going to be confusion here, because a search for phil bradley intitle:(library) gives me 1,542 results while a search for phil bradley intitle:library give me 1,569 results, which is really bad news. I don't want to have to remember which version to use, and I want to get the same result with either syntax version.
The last search option When? allows me to limit to pages modified before or after a given date, so no change there.
In conclusion at this stage in the beta test I'd say that the most promising thing is an easier layout - far neater and much less confusing and busy. Pretty much the same options are offered to me as previously, though in a slightly different (and marginally better) way. The image function is a good and welcome addition, but isn't particularly exciting.
I was disappointed not to see an RSS option for my searches though - I think that's probably the biggest ommission from the update. I'd also like to see other search functions such as blogs, news and so on. However, this is only a beta version, so I'm keeping my criticism mild at the moment and playing up the good stuff, and on the whole it's not that difficult to be positive.