They say you learn something new every day.

Yesterday I was looking for something I’d learnt before (about adding a new table in SQL, I believe), so I thought I’d search my Tumblr for it. Wrong. It turns out the Tumblr search box doesn’t work. What on Earth? Did I break my theme when I pimped my Tumblr?

It turns out I didn’t. This is quite a common problem. The search on Tumblr just doesn’t work. I genuinely found this hard to believe at first. “It must work”, I thought to myself, “they wouldn’t just leave a broken feature there”. But, it doesn’t.

I was left really stumped that a Web 2.0 project which seems to care so much about usability, would make such a mistake. I suppose the themes are made by individuals so Tumblr can’t get rid of the search box. But it must have worked at some point for people to add it in. Maybe it causes too much load on the system. Whatever the reason, we have to deal with the problems that we’re dealt. The Tumblr search just does not work.

It’s a problem to which some people have come up with some innovative solutions.

The standard solution seems to be to use a tag search:

You put this bit of code in the HTML head of your theme:

<!—
function handleThis(formElm)
{
window.location=”http://yourtumblrURLhere.tumblr.com/tagged/”+formElm.number.value+”“;
return false;
}
// —>

And then edit your search box:

It’s quite a nifty bit of code – and a bit like the code that I hacked together (and didn’t really understand) years ago to make my own custom search page:

Looking at this code, I understand it completely, which is a really nice feeling.

It takes “this” (the value from the form) and adds it to the string to get a new page location. It then uses “window.location” to load the new page created. Technically you could create any page with this. And hence, point to any form that uses GET variables.

The problem of course is that all it’s doing is loading tag pages, which isn’t really a proper search.

One option would be to add it into a Google search using the “site:” feature, like this:

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=SEARCH TERM+site%3Alessstupidthanyesterday.tumblr.com

But the problem with this is that it takes you to Google and away from Tumblr, which is a bit jarring. It’s like opening the fridge door and finding yourself in Tesco. It’s great and thanks for all the choice and that, but I only wanted the milk.

Added to this is the fact Google’s crawling may be a few days out of date. It’ll be fine for the old pages, but given I update this every day, that might be a bit annoying for me when searching.

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