Google Custom Search Business Edition

Google launched a new hosted search product this week: Google Custom Search Business Edition.

This will give you a Google-based search engine for your site, running on Google’s servers, without advertising or Google logos on it. You can also get search results as XML, which makes it possible to create a completely custom results page or to embed search results in parts of your site as related content.

However, you cannot index any content behind a login, which will rule it out for most membership-based web sites. Searching secured content will still require one of their appliances.

It costs $100 a year for up to 500 pages and $500 for up to 50,000 pages.

Draft Standard from ASAE Data Standards Committee

If you need some reading for beach this weekend, have I got a draft standards document for you!

Seriously, the draft standard described in the announcement below is the first step in an overall effort to improve the ability of association systems to integrate more effectively and efficiently. If you are an association IT exec or a technology vendor serving this market, please take the time to review and comment upon the draft.

The ASAE Data Standards Task Force is pleased to announce the release of
a draft standard for expressing constituent records in XML. This
standard will serve as a core for expanding into other data
representations. Therefore, it is especially critical to gather feedback
on the draft standard from the association technology community.

Please go to this page on the ASAE web site in order to download the
standards documents:

Please review the draft standard and consider how well it serves your
needs as an association or those of your customers if you are a
technology vendor. Once you have reviewed the standard, please provide
your comments.

You will need to register with the site in order to submit a comment,
but you do not have to be a member of ASAE. Go to the same page from
which you downloaded the documents
( and follow the
instructions on providing comments.

Non-IE browser (Firefox, Safari) users: Before logging in, you will
receive an error message “Website Certified by an Unknown Authority”.
Accept the certificate permanently and you’ll be able to continue.

Please share this message with your database experts on staff or with
supporting vendor companies. Their input as experts in implementing your
technology is highly valuable to the standards development process.

We thank you in advance for your critical review of the draft standard
and the feedback you provide.

Google Deprecates SOAP Search API

Google has deprecated their SOAP Search API. This means that people who already have keys to use the system can continue to do so but no new ones will be issued. Ongoing support of the SOAP API is questionable as well. Google suggests that people now use their AJAX Search API. Here is a good discussion (read comments and follow links) of concerns about how the AJAX API is not a complete replacement for everything that was available in the SOAP API.

Update: Here is another interesting post, Beginning of the end of for open web APIs?, that is worth checking out on this issue.

RSS for Associations, AMS-CMS Integration Event

I have posted the full text of the RSS for Associations article that was published in Association Forum of Chicagoland‘s Forum Magazine this month.

Also, I wanted to remind you that the Understanding the Potential (and Pitfalls) of Integrating CMS and AMS Systems event is being held next Thursday. This is one of the few places to learn about the somewhat tricky topic of creating value for your association by integrating your data and content management systems. Register today!


Microsoft just released some sample code with which to create RSS feeds from Microsoft CRM. I think this is a great development and provides a lot of value to users of the product. Being able to subscribe to a feed for a particular person, or class of persons, in a CRM database allows you to track them within your existing tools rather than having to remember to login to a portal page or application.

In fact, I talk about RSS for association management systems in an article I wrote for Forum Magazine that should be out in the April issue. Below is an excerpt of the bit about adding RSS to AMS:

I believe that the potential of RSS as a communication and productivity tool is just beginning to be fully explored. In addition to continuing to use it share and raise awareness of web-based content, I believe that RSS can be put to use in strengthening the relationship between a member and her association.

One use specific to the association market is around increasing member awareness. Take the common scenario of an association staffer who manages a committee or board and serves as an ex officio member of the group. What if your association management system provided an RSS feed for each member, providing updates every time something new happens with that member. You could then subscribe to the feed of each member on the committee and be immediately updated when they register for a conference, renew their membership, buy a product or miss an important continuing education deadline. Imagine the value of being fully aware of your committee members’ individual interactions with the association in a way that comes directly to your desktop rather than you having to mine your AMS on a daily basis to find the same information.

The same kind of feed could be exposed to your members, secured with their user name and password. This feed could alert them when a product they purchased from you ships, deadlines to renew membership or continuing education credits, etc. This would allow them to be much more aware of what your association is doing for them on a daily basis without having to take overt steps to find it out.

This kind of awareness raising could improve the experience for everyone in the association by making better use of the data that flows through your systems on a daily basis to strengthen the relationship between members and the association.

(Via Scoble.)


Shawn Lea has posted a list of innovations that hotels are probably going to implement over the next few years.

One thing not on the list that they could do pretty much immediately for meetings is to create an RSS Channel that displays recent entries from an RSS feed designated by the meeting organizers.

If you’ve gone to enough meetings you are probably familiar with the hotel tv channel that provides information about the day’s events, which is usually out-of-date and/or redundant to material you already have in print sitting on your bedside table. Not very useful. A TV channel that scrolled RSS entries created by the organizers would be much more compelling and timely and might even be watched. You could even have a podcast voice-over if you wanted to take it a step further.

It should be incredibly simple to manage something like this. Just point the system at the RSS feed for the event blog (you are event blogging your meetings, right?). Boom, all set.

To whatever industry that provides hotel tv systems, get on the RSS bandwagon!

Lean XHTML and Precise CSS

For those of you employing or exploring standards-based designs using CSS (and this should be all of you!), check out this post on Lean XHTML and Precise CSS. Looks like a good method for organizing your stylesheets. CSS files can get pretty complex as your site develops, so having some organizational method will make life easier down the road. The article also reviews the benefits of keeping presentation code in CSS and out of your page markup.

(Via 456 Bereas Street blog.)