WordPress Custom Search Plugin 0.1 beta

Front End ScreenshotThis is a search plugin with which you can build a customised search form.  It allows you to search custom fields, choose multiple search parameters and choose HTML form elements to represent them.

I originally developed this plugin for a client project.  Basically the problem they had was that they were storing structured data (real estate properties) but the default wordpress search didn’t allow them to search it in a structured way (by price and location).  The plugin I’ve built allows you to configure multiple search input fields, configure the behaviour of each field (eg what options appear in a dropdown) and configure what database fields each input corresponds to (eg post title, post content, a custom field called price).

The plugin is now at point where I think it could be useful to other people although I’m aware that there are a lot of improvements that could be made.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions or complaints and I will do my best to get them resolved.

You can download the plugin here.

System Requirements

Tested with:

  • PHP Versions 4.4.9 and 5.2.6
  • WordPress 2.7

Quick Start Guide

I will try to put more complete documentation together at some point but for now this is a quick start guide to building a search form.

  1. Install the plugin.  Download it here unzip it in your wp-content/plugins folder, then activate it in the plugins page of your wordpress admin site.
  2. Add the widget to the sidebar on which you want it to appear.
  3. Click edit and set-up the fields for your form. (More Info Below)

Setting up the fields

Each field has a number of settings which control the way the input appears to the user and the way the search is performed.

Back End Screenshot

Label sets the label displayed next to the field, you can set this to whatever you want.

Data Type controls what type of data is being searched (i.e. what database table is being used).  The standard options are “Post Field” for data such as post title and post content, from the standard wordpress post data,  “Custom Field” for data from the custom fields, and “Category” to search on the categories a post is in.

Data Field makes a more specific selection from the data available.  The drop down list should give some sensible options, or if you know the name of the database field you want to query you can type this in manually.

Widget controls what type of HTML input is created for the front end of the site.  It should be fairly obvious what these do.  The inputs called “Auto Values” will automatically create options based on what is in the database.

Some widgets will require extra options in the Widget Options field.  At the moment this is just the drop down and radio button widgets (not the auto values ones) which require you to specify a list of values for the user to choose from.  You can specify this as a comma separated list of values, ‘a,b,c’ for three options with values ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ respectively, or if you want to give ‘friendly’ labels to the user you can separate the value from the label using a colon as follows ‘a:Group A,b:Group B,c:Group C’.

The Compare field controls the way that the user input is compared to the data in the database.  I would expect the most commonly used of these to be “equals” which requires an exact match between the user data and the database field (useful for category searches) and the “Words in” or “Phrase In” types which will search to see if the user input is a part of the data, rather than a full match, this is useful for things like searching the text of a post.  The difference between ‘words’ and ‘phrase’ is that ‘words’ splits the input into a series of words and searches for these individually whereas ‘Phrase’ searches for all the words in sequence.

The “Less Than” and “More Than” comparisons ensure that the data is less than or more than the user input respectively.  This is probably only relevant for numeric input but it can be used for strings as well and will search alphabetically.  For numeric input it can help to also tick the “Numeric” checkbox as sometimes the database will be set up to compare numbers alphabetically (so that 10 is less than 2).

The “Range” comparison is a little more complicated and requires the user input to be of the form A-B to return results that are between A and B.  This is primarily intended to be used for Drop-downs and radio buttons where the values can be set by the site administrator.  If you specify the values for the dropdown like the following: “-10:Less Than 10,10-20:Between 10 and 20,20-:More than 20”, then the user will be presented with the options “Less Than 10”, “Betwen 10 and 20” and “More than 20” but the search will be done with the values “-10″,”10-20” and “20-“.  Again the numeric checkbox should be used for numeric data.

I hope that helps, please let me know if you have any trouble (or joy) with the plugin or if any of my instructions don’t make sense.

Further Development

For developers, I’ve tried to build this in a modular way to allow extensions to be added, I will try to document this at some point in the future but if you can’t wait then the best places to get started would be to look at the filter ‘custom_search_get_classes’ in custom-search/custom-search.php and the Great Real Estate bridging code in custom-search/bridges/greatrealestate.php.

Category: Wordpress Plugins | Tags: , , , 47 comments »

47 Responses to “WordPress Custom Search Plugin 0.1 beta”

  1. Pedro

    Hey this looks like it could be EXACTLY what i’m looking for.

    Just a quick question; is it possible to exclude categories from the drop down list and display only specific ones?

  2. Don

    A few people have asked for this functionality, so I’m considering putting in a better interface for it.

    For now though, if you write the categories you want to include as a comma separated list into the “DropDown Options” field then only these categories will be displayed.

  3. Pedro

    Exactly the news i was hoping to hear! i don’t mind old skooling it as long as it works i’m extatic 🙂 thanks

  4. ash

    hey, great plugin. Anyway to get it to search custom tables (ie tables outside of standard wordpress ones) in your mysql database?

    thanks for your work!

  5. Don

    Hi Ash,

    Out of the box, it will not support non-standard tables as the db structure for each will be different so they will each require some custom coding.

    I have though designed the plugin for extensibility to allow people to add in the code for non-standard tables. If you are familiar with php you could try to integrate the new tables yourself. I keep meaning to write documentation for the extensibility API but in brief you would need to:

    * Look at the great-real-estate.php file in the bridges directory.
    * Copy this file into a new file “my-other-wp-plugin.php” and change the class and function names as appropriate.
    * Re-write the various functions of the Joiner class to represent the new table.
    * Send a copy to me for inclusion in forthcoming releases.

    If you are not familiar with PHP you could post a feature request in the bug-tracker and I may try to implement some of the most requested ones myself in future when I have time.

    Thanks for your interest,

  6. Michael Montgomery

    Hi Ash,

    This is a great plugin and it has huge potential.
    I’m testing it but I’m unable to change or add a value in the “Data Type” field. When I select “Data Type = Custom Field”

    Any Help will be appreciated.

    Thank You

  7. Don

    Hi Michael,

    If the plugin is behaving correctly then when you select “Data Type” = “Custom Field” it should populate the “Data Field” dropdown with a list of all the different custom fields which have been applied to posts in your blog.

    Are there custom fields currently applied to posts?

    If there are then there must be some kind of incompatibility between the plugin and your blog setup. Do you see any javascript errors when you are managing the plugin? How did you add the custom fields?


  8. Michael Montgomery

    Hi Don,

    I must admit I’m using the Custom Fields Plugin, on the site I’m testing your Custom Search. I’ll setup a conventional Custom field then test it.

    No theres no Java script errors on my live setup but I did experience some on localhost (Lampp) .

    Will give some feedback, after I remove the Custom Field Plugin.

    Thank You Kindly.

  9. jeff

    is this plugin compatible with v 2.8? i was able to activate and set up the search form. when testing it on the live site, page redirects to a long URL that looks like


    and the page is blank

    I must be missing something obvious.

  10. jeff

    looks to be a great plugin by the way. so far, it seems to be the only (therefore the best) of its kind that I have seen… only if i could make it work on *my* site.. thanks!

  11. icecubejackal

    how to make the seach box into 1 line only..

    horizontal line.

    [ text box ] [dropdown category] [search]

  12. chike

    thanks alot for this!!

  13. rethlota

    супер статья, спасибо

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  16. TJ

    How would I get this to show for instance, in the range section, a week of future posts?

    I would like to allow users just select one week of future posts starting with the current day ( I already tried to and that failed).

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    We really love this site. Wewish I could come here all the time.

  19. Sonia

    how add 1 o more Drop Down Options? thanks!

  20. tech

    very nice plugin!

  21. Mikou

    Hello there and many thanks for sharing this !!

    Does it feature multi custom value check box selection within one particular custom field key?


  22. Ramesh

    Thanks for the great plug in, You are really genius.

    I have a small doubt regarding this plug in, can i use this plug in for database search(i am using csv to post plug in to create my posts) i want o create a search form to show data from csv files. How can i do this. If this feature is not included…do you have any thought to add this feature?


  23. mahmud

    can i use this plugin for a result sheet database search? i mean if i make a database with 2 or 3 columns with title ID, roll no , result then how can i search the specific database? I could not express everything. please solve it.

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  25. Ranga

    This is so good. I was looking for this for few days. I tested this, works fine for me. I need one more thing, can i use check-boxes also as drop-down, input-box and radio buttons.

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  29. Wes

    Unless I’m mistaken, this doesn’t seem to work for Custom Post Types. Is there an easy fix I could make to have it search them?


  30. dfad

    your plugin doesnt work :p

  31. Saad Amin

    it can possible when someone comes to my site and they search for example “tigers”. it will show no results,because do not have any tiger images,So when this happens, and we have no search results for a user search, then i want to show images from these search results on graphicriver – http://graphicriver.net/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&term=tigers

  32. isk

    Hi Don Benjamin,
    first thanks for your great plugin.

    it is important for me that this plugin don’t show (don’t return) any results when search terms (search field) is empty or blank.

    do you know?

  33. don


    That’s not possible with the plugin as it is currently designed. I’ll keep this requirement in mind though for future versions.

    If it’s important to you to get this functionality soon then I could produce a bespoke version of the plugin for a small fee.


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    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    Hello friend

    I am looking for a plugin for searh routing bus (tranport public)

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    Out of the box, it will not support non-standard tables as the db structure for each will be different so they will each require some custom coding.

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