Google Search Appliance: Design Your Front End
Your front end design determines how your Web visitors see their search results. You are encouraged to design your front end to look different from the general University web search. This will make it clear to visitors to your site that they are only searching within your collection and not over the entire University. This does not need to involve major changes: uploading a banner image can be sufficient. If you do not want to create your own front end, the default front end may be used.
You have two ways to edit the appearance of your front end. You may use the Page Layout Helper to control basic features, or you may fine-tune all features manually using the XSLT Stylesheet Editor. The Page Layout Helper is the default design mode on a new front end. To use the default front end, no action is needed in these tools - it is already included.
These design modes are mutually exclusive; you must use one or the other but not both. If you try the XSLT Stylesheet Editor and later decide to revert to the Page Layout Helper, you must also revert to the default stylesheet, so remember to export a backup of your current configuration first.
The front end is served from the Search Appliance, not from your Web site. Remember to provide full URLs for images, CSS files, and other files that browsers will load when they visit your front end.
Use the Page Layout Helper
This tool is mostly self-explanatory. Many of the options, when changed, provide a live preview of the search results page. You must submit the changes before they will actually take effect.
When you insert HTML code into the header and footer fields, remember that these pieces will appear inside the rendered document's BODY element. You should not supply your own HTML, HEAD, or BODY tags. If you are integrating the front end into the look and feel of an existing Web site, you probably want to copy the header HTML code from the source code of a page on the site: copy the code between the opening BODY tag and the beginning of the page's unique content. For the footer, copy between the end of the content and the closing BODY tag. You may want to reference your site's style sheet (CSS) file from the header to maintain consistency between the front end and pages on your site.
Use the XSLT Stylesheet Editor
You can edit the underlying XSLT stylesheet directly to gain access to options not provided through the Page Layout Helper. For example, you can add extra input controls to the search form. You should have a basic understanding of XML syntax before editing the XSLT code. A small typing error, such as omitting an angle bracket, will prevent you applying your upated stylesheet until you fix the error. Embedded HTML code for the header and footer must have its angle brackets <> escaped as "<" and ">" respectively, or else it will invalidate the XML syntax of the stylesheet.
Many of the common customizable options are documented in the built-in Help pages of the Search Appliance. For more detailed explanations of the XSLT stylesheet and search form parameters, please consult the Google Search Protocol Reference.