Leading Edge / Paradigm shift: LookAhead is much more than a type-ahead feature. It represents the next generation of search -- a paradigm shift away from the search box and button to the new paradigm of semantic or lexically-related search. SurfWax Inc. has spent the past five years developing leading-edge Practical Tools for finding and using information on the Internet. LookAhead is based on award winning technology: SearchEngineWatch March, 2005.
Zero footprint: LookAhead installs with a zero footprint on your website and seamlessly appears on your web pages without any changes to your design. Secure web-based Admin access makes it easy to setup and maintain. You have complete control over the custom look of the fonts, spacing, actions of the content in the LookAhead SearchPal drop-down, along with the size of the drop-down and its left or right positioning relative to your search box.
Industrial strength: SurfWax started with developing controlled vocabulary (lexical) tools in 1998 and LookAhead represents the culmination of our pioneering work in helping users find, summarize, and use content on a website. We have a robust series of LookAhead features ready for 2006 that will ensure our clients' sites continue to provide the best search experience for their users.
Search Options: You can: 1) specify that a click on a drop-down item directly loads a page, or 2) the item clicked is sent to your site's search box as the query string. For either option and at any time, the user can click on your Go/Search button to conduct a normal site search based on the query string in the search box.
Lexicon flexibility: You can use a variety of sources for your lexicon: your site's A-Z index, keywords, FAQs, product catalog, directory items or headings, CRM topics, titles, or thesaurus. Five Import formats and direct CSS control provide a flexible basis for customizing LookAhead to your site.
Lexicon auto-generation: LookAhead LexIt can automatically generate a list of the terms, keywords, concepts, names, and products on your site, along with the associated URLs. You can edit this LexIt output to more easily develop a meaningful lexicon to represent your site. LexIt can process up to 6,000 of your documents/web pages per hour via the Web (depending on your server bandwidth and latency). Product names, entities, concepts, titles, etc. are automatically extracted along with links (URL) to their respective page (source document) as part of the LexIt lexicon. LexIt can extract from multiple document types such as HTML pages, PDF files, Word files, etc.
Lexicon size: From a practical standpoint, LookAhead is most helpful on lexicons of at least 250 terms. There is no absolute upper limit to the number of terms to be imported into LookAhead, but 3 million terms is probably a practical limit. The time to import a lexicon will vary: there is the time to upload your lexicon.txt file (which depends on your bandwidth), and once your file is uploaded, LookAhead imports and rotates about 175 terms per second. You can continuously monitor the status of your import, including rate of import and errors encountered. You can re-import changes or updates to your lexicon at any time.
Zero downtime: SurfWax servers are fully redundant, are located in a high-security data center, and have a solid record of 100.00% uptime (power) and 99.98% (hardware and network). However, in the unlikely event that LookAhead servers do go down, the LookAhead drop-down is designed to appear as a single line beneath your search box stating "Temporarily unavailable; please use the Search button".
Perfection? While no text extraction tool is 760 perfect, what is amazing about LexIt output is the great starting point it provides for developing your site's lexicon! LexIt does 95% of the work, you do the 5% tuning. Tuning includes de-duplicating terms due to spelling errors or case, combining terms due to singular -vs- plural, etc. A site such as WebMD might ultimately have 200,000 terms/concepts in its lexicon, which would be daunting to put into and access via a traditional hierarchy. That is why such sites often don't have a comprehensive lexicon. But the ease of using LookAhead's "type and see" approach makes accessing large lexicons very easy without the need to create and maintain a complex hierarchy of terms. Why? Because the user comes to the lexicon thinking "flat" (wants to know about a specific term or topic) -- the navigation to that information should also be flat (as it is via LookAhead) without the "drill-down" required in traditional hierarchies and directories.