Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Offline Search Tools: Best CD-ROM And DVD Indexers

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Searching off-line is a highly in demand feature when you need to distribute your Web site or online document library on a CD-ROM disc.

Photo credit: Tomasz Kowalczyk

The technology utilized by standard Web sites cannot be easily transferred to off-line media like CD-ROMs because it is based on the presence of a Web server. While it is not impossible to launch a small-footprint Web server on your local PC or Mac, the requirements and coding required to make this work are difficult to manage in most situations, making the results slow, not always compatible and quirky.

Most of the time developers resort to develop Java-based search engines that can also work off-line.

One commons solution that can be adopted in many cases is the use of Adobe Acrobat which allows speedy and effective indexing and searching across large number of documents. Problem is you must first convert all documents to the PDF Acrobat format and then index them appropriately with Acrobat Catalog or directly through the main Acrobat tool if you are using their latest version.

There are also some other possible and interesting alternatives that can be utilized in these situations, and that I am listing and documenting here below.

Find in this short review set off-line search engine technology capable of:

  • Indexing HTML content
  • Template customization - Look and feel integration with web site design
  • Off-line searching capability
  • Distribution on CD-ROM
  • On-line searching capability
  • Ease of use
  • Ease of maintenance

Photo credit: Peter Hamza

Find here below five selected technologies that can provide the functionalities described above:


  1. Search Maker Pro 3.2

    = worth knowing
    Software (Win)

    Search Maker Pro allows you to create a search engine for your Web site. The program lets you create a single HTML file that is a self-contained search engine, and place it on your Web site to provide your visitors with full search capability with sorting options and wildcard support.

    Search Maker Pro generates a professional looking search engine that is fully customizable and capable of handling frames. You can customize the font type, size, and color, background image and color, as well as all link type colors.

    In addition, your can build an offline search engine that can be utilized off a hard disk, CD-ROM, or DVD.

    Key features:

    • The generated client search HTML file will work on any website (no access to web server required).
    • Indexes web sites on the Internet or on local storage (hard disk, CD-ROM, DVD etc).
    • Search results can be displayed in the same window, a new window or a new frame.
    • Search result page format is fully configurable (font type, font size, font color, background image, background color, link color, active link color, followed link color).
    • Full control over which pages to include or exclude from the indexes.
    • Full control over editing of indexes.
    • Alter the default sort order and amount of information that each search generates.
    • Generated JavaScript compatible with most common browsers (Internet Explorer v3, 4, 5 & 6, Netscape Navigator v3, 4, 5 & 6, other browsers using JavaScript 1.1).
    • Generate relative links, absolute links or virtual links (on local storage for later use on the Internet).
    • Wildcard search provisions.
    • User friendly interface for ease of use.
    • Save and load search configurations for easy maintenance of search pages.
    • Scalable to 100s of pages (the only limit is the power of the client's machine).
  2. Price:

    Licenses 1 Cost Per Unit $ 59 Total Cost $ 59
    Licenses 5 Cost per unit $ 40 Total Cost $ 200
    Licenses 10 Cost per unit $ 30 Total cost $ 300

    Download and try out for free here


  3. NavSearch

    = interesting, promising
    Software (Win)

    NavSearch is a local index search engine that allows the user to index text and html files stored in specific directories, and then perform fast, powerful, Boolean supported keyword searches to easily locate documents.

    The program is completely self-contained and can be used and included as a CD-ROM search engine. It produces a nicely formatted search engine result page, including keyword highlighting and direct links to the local files.

    NavSearch is remarkably easy to use and setting up the search engine is as easy as selecting the directories to be included - everything else is done automatically and your search engine will be up and running in a matter of minutes. You can choose to use the Windows interface or have the program create a custom HTML search page.

    NavSearch 6.x has now evolved into AFSearch for which you can find more detailed information here below.

    Download NavSearch and try it out for free here


  5. AFSearch HTML Index Search Engine 8.70
    = must have
    Software (Win)

    AFSearch is basically NavSearch version 6. AFSearch is an index based local keyword search engine that indexes text and html files stored in specific directories.

    AFSearch enables users to perform fast, powerful, boolean supported keyword searches anytime to easily locate needed documents, with keywords highlighted.

    Key Features:

    • One Step Installation: AFSearch is very easy to install, you can have it up and running with minimal configuration. All you need is a single EXE file. There is no server needs to be configured.
    • AFSearch requires minimal amount of memory and disk space (< 1M full installation)
    • Runs very fast even on a 486 machine.

    • Easy integration and customizable interface.
    • AFSearch can either work as an application, or runs as a LOCAL-CGI; Which means you can call AFSearch directly from HTML files within your browser, and allow users to perform searches and output results just as popular online search engines.
    • Distribution Friendly: AFSearch is LAN and CD-ROM friendly - The searchable database created by AFSearch can be easily distributed to other users on CD-ROM or via LAN access.
  6. Price:
    Single user $55
    250 users $380
    500 users $580
    1000 users $995

    Download AFSearch here


  7. SiteSearch Indexer 2.0
    = worth knowing
    Software (Win)

    SiteSearch Indexer is a program that any Webmaster can adopt to generate a searchable index of their Web site.

    This searchable index is in the form of a Javascript file that gets utilized by the search results page and that supports the files included with SiteSearch Indexer.

    As SiteSearch Indexer queries are executed via client-side Javascript, there is no load placed on the Web server and searching will work either over the Web or even in server-less environments like CD-ROM, hard disk or floppy disk.

    SiteSearch Indexer requires minimal html knowledge to implement and no scripting is necessary to implement this technology.

    Price: USD $ 30

    Download it here


  9. LIKSE
    = breakthrough tool
    Software (Win)

    LIKSE is an off-line HTML browser, with a built-in full text search engine that retrieves pages in hypertext format. The search engine supports boolean operators (AND, OR, PHRASE), and will even list the first few lines of the document as a quick summary.

    LIKSE is a 100% standalone application, and as such it does not require pre-installation of Microsoft Internet Explorer for viewing HTML files (like many other products need to).

    Installation size is 1 MB. LIKSE is compact, runs like the wind and can even run off a floppy. It will run on any machine that has Windows installed.

    CD-ROM publishers and authors can provide this tool to their readers to enable HTML reading, browsing and searching functions all in one.

    LIKSE can ensure your reader can see your HTML files without you having to worry about different browser versions, and whether the users have a browser installed. With LIKSE you provide the browser with the content and therefore you can maintain full control on how things are displayed and handled on the client machine.

    LIKSE is very easy to install, all you need is a single EXE file. There is no server that needs to be configured. LIKSE requires minimal amount of memory and disk space. LIKSE runs very fast even on a 386 machine.

    Key features:

    • Compact. HTML Browser + Search Engine in less than 1MB. Runs off a floppy / CD-ROM directly. No pre-installed MSIE required.
    • Scans full text or META tags for keywords, and returns results in hyper-text format.
    • The first few lines of the article, or META descriptions are extracted for quick summaries.
    • May also search and sort results on file age, file type, and file size.
    • Customizable Directory Buttons.
    • Support Boolean operators.
    • Color change for visited links or mouse covered links.
    • Supports Client Side Image Maps (CSIM) .
    • Supports GIF animations.
    • Browser and Search Engine are fully integrated. You may use an hyperlink in your HTML document to start the search engine.
    • Easy toggle between search engine / browser.
    • Customizable Interface, switch on/off individual menu options, display your own logo and customized messages.
    • Built-in WAV player.
    • Easy association with external viewers, in order for LIKSE to work also with non-HTML type files. (e.g. files created by your word-processor, text files, etc.).
  10. Price:
    Single User $ 55
    Site Licensing $ 380
    Royalty-Free Licensing $ 580


    • Single User Licensing: For personal use. Only 1 user will be using LIKSE.
    • Site Licensing: Grants the license holder the right to install LIKSE on any number of computers within ONE building. Or install LIKSE on one computer but shared by many users. For in-house distribution purposes.
    • Royalty-Free Licensing: Grants the license holder the right to distribute the software to a maximum of 500 users, as a viewer for files own by the license holder, on a royalty-free basis. If more than 500 copies is required for distribution, please contact

    Download LIKSE here

More tools that can be used to index and search CD-ROMs and DVDs are listed here:

If you know of other solutions/tools or would like to suggest alternative approaches to achieve effective searchability of CD-ROm content feel free to contribute with your info through the comments area here below.


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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, December 16 2004, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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