Update: This isn’t something it’s easy to stop tinkering with. Now it will give you “x” and “Journal of x” listings (e.g. try typing “academic”), and it can handle ISSNs (try typing 0039). The latter still gives you a list of titles, but the ISSN is appended so you can see what you’re getting.

I’ve been playing with the Ajax-based autocompletion features of the latest eXist release. The code is simple, and all it needs is a dynamic page it can hit, which generates an HTML ul with a bunch of li’s containing the search terms. Simple to do from any database, such as an ejournal title list. So, here’s an experimental implementation. Start typing a journal title; once you’ve got a few characters, pause to get a drop-down of titles you can select.

The CSS needs work, and the search page that this points to needs to be updated to accomodate exact title searching, and no doubt there are issues around accented characters, but it’s still very nifty.

A couple of other Ajax implementations to investigate are Flexac and momche. The code I took from eXist lacks a couple of features, such as the ability to select from the drop-down using the arrow keys instead of the mouse.

There are obvious questions around scalability; but of course, the db that serves the Ajax requests doesn’t have to be the same one that serves actual searches; it just has to be in sync. If performance turns out to be an issue with this interface, we could have a separate db containing nothing but journal titles, for optimum performance.

Now, which ILS vendor will be the first to offer this in their OPAC?