New Rich Text Editor for MSN Spaces includes Search Hyperlinks Tool

Scott Isaacs, architect for MSN Web Experience, writes about the text editor upgrade for MSN Spaces.


Spaces releases a new rich text editor

6 years ago (in my first round in MSN), I created a rich text editor for MSN Groups, Hotmail, and on Spaces. That editor has served us well and perhaps is the oldest javascript code still on the web in wide-spread production.  Today, I am proud to announce that we have retired the old RTE in Spaces.

The new and improved RTE offers all the existing functionality plus:

  1. Better WYSIWYG in Internet Explorer. You are now editing your message in the theme of your space.  Try using a theme with the semi-translucent background images and see how it bleeds through the toolbar
  2. Support for fonts, paragraph style, and font sizes
  3. Default to single-spacing for new blog entries
  4. Background (IE only) and foreground color
  5. Search hyperlinks – Select some terms, click the magnifying-glass like toolbar button and a search link is created for those terms
  6. You can specify "No Follow" when inserting hyperlinks (IE Only).  No Follow is very useful when you want to link to another site but do not want that link followed and indexed by search engines.
  7. Cut, copy, and paste on the toolbar (no need to remember those keyboard short-cuts)
  8. Complete toolbar customization.  You can modify the toolbar options and they will be saved for the next time you edit (same machine only)
  9. HTML Mode – I am also proud to announce the official retirement of the Edit It.  You can now switch the editor in HTML mode and type HTML directly
  10. And, drum-roll please – FireFox support! You now get the RTE functionality in FireFox (minus the true "theme-ing")

For you HTML-ers out there, we also updated the HTML filters to support many more tags. You can now create Tables, <H>eaders, and more when in HTML mode. 

Enjoy! and keep the feedback coming.

The Search hyperlinks option automatically runs an MSN search for the text selected. An RSS/blog search would be nice for Spaces users and hopefully this will be implemented in the future ( However there is a way to search RSS feeds using the advanced search commands.


Using Advanced Search Commands

MSN Search’s new query operators make it easier to target things using MSN search. The experimental operator –  "Contains:" allows you to search for pages containing links to a specific file extension.

For example: 

  1. classical contains:mid will search for pages with links to classical MIDI files.
  2. drum samples contains:wav will search for pages with links to drum samples in audio WAV format.
  3. mp3 blog contains:mp3 will search for mp3 blogs with links to mp3 files.
  4. music contains:wmv will search for pages with links to music videos.

You can experiment with Data Formats and their File Extensions. Using contains:exe is great for finding software applications.

Here’s a trick for searching news and blogs RSS feeds:


Blog search in 4 lines of code

One of the tricks to use with Contains: is searching for blogs. As it turns out, most blogs, at least most blogs that are nowadays worth reading, have a RSS feed somewhere on them. Contains: is a great way to find pages that have RSS feeds, which is usually just a RSS, XML, RDF, or ATOM document type. Interested in finding blogs on African Cichlids? Try: African cichlids contains:(rss xml rdf atom). Or perhaps you’re a Steelers fan. It’s a quick hack, but we’ve found that it works surprisingly well!

To search for legal music podcasts to download you could use:

podsafe podcast contains:mp3 (rss) which will search RSS feeds mentioning podsafe podcast with links to mp3 files. Simply omitting "mp3" will search RSS feeds only for text mentioning "podsafe podcast".


MSN searches will vary according to region for example produces different results to


To add a search hyperlink in a Spaces blog you simply do the following:

  1. Highlight text for the search
  2. Select magnifying glass button to create the search hyperlink
  3. Select link button to change url domain name to region required ie .com or if neccessary.

MSN Spaces bloggers now have a tempting new tool in their blog editor that looks likely to recieve frequent use not least because it’s so convenient.


For info on the  "No Follow" option see MSN Search’s Weblog : Working Together Against Blog Spam and Robert Scoble’s The "no nofollow" religion.


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