The EASY way to search craigslist
Likelihood of change = difficulty level * (users helped – users annoyed) / total usersDifficulty factors in because it’s better to do a bunch of things that each help 10 people and take a day than one thing that helps 20 but takes a week. Second, when I’m contemplating any change, I think on how I can minimize the annoyance factor. Mainly, this involves making things optional. For example, the SearchTempest results originally showed just one craigslist city per page, with Previous and Next links to switch between them. Nowadays the default mode shows 20 cities per page, which lets you flip through them more quickly. The original mode is still available though – just click the Display Options tab on the results page. About 10% of searchers still use it, so clearly it’s worth keeping around. That’s not always the case. In theory, making everything optional sounds perfect. Everyone gets exactly what they want! There are two significant drawbacks though. First, each additional option means additional development and maintenance time. And every minute I spend keeping a legacy feature working is a minute I’m not spending on a cool new feature, or even a cool new site, like MovieTempest.com. Second, every additional option makes the site incrementally more complex, which makes it appear harder to use. Even if all these extra options can be safely ignored (which they can due to intelligent defaults), a new user doesn’t know that. And losing new users to other sites because they have less features is an irony I prefer to avoid! 🙂 So in the end it’s all about balance. I will always keep innovating, because if I didn’t, we’d still be stuck with craigslist. I’ll make changes optional whenever possible, because I want the sites to be useful for as many people as possible. But occasionally I will likely do things you don’t like. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. 😉 And if not, I at least hope your email’s funny.
HP E-350 laptop site:bestbuy.comThen, I opened the cached version of that page. Generally Google’s cache has a couple of days’ delay, so there was the sale page. All my sister had to do was print off that page and take it in, and they gave her the sale price, no problem. Got me thinking, you could take this a step further. Before buying any new electronics, why not head over to the wayback machine and see if it’s been on sale recently? Even if they won’t give you the sale price, you might get some bargaining room, and at the very least, you’ll know whether it might be worthwhile to wait for the price to drop again. Related tip: before buying a common product on eBay, be sure to search for it in ‘completed listings’ (under their advanced search). You’ll see what prices they’ve sold for recently, which can help you make a smart bid!
Before starting this blog, I had a page listing all the cool SearchTempest developments in good old HTML. Here it is for posterity:
Improved search history, results layout improvements
- SearchTempest now lets you easily pull up recent or favorite searches to search again.
- You can now easily flip between the two most popular results formats without even reloading the page. See the tabs near the top of the results page, right under the search bar.
- Updated the documentation. May not seem like much, but it tends to get overlooked with other, more fun work to do!
More improvements on the new design
- A small section on the results page has been added to show any additional search options, like price or ‘has picture’. Keeps you from forgetting about them and allows them to be easily changed or removed.
- The stacked results mode now works on Android.
- Even fixed some stuff in IE6 (but do yourself a favor and don’t use it…) 🙂
Aug. 4, 2010
Several initial tweaks and improvements to the new design
- Cities with no results are now automatically closed! (Relies on craigslist allowing Yahoo Pipes access to their feeds; hopefully that will continue to be the case!)
- Greatly improved keyboard-browsing of the main search form and the site in general.
- Added a notification to let users know about the new craigslist image preview option, and how best to use it.
- Increased the default city size (which is nice for the craigslist image previews), and added a feature that auto-shrinks cities if the browser window is small. (All controllable via the Display Options results tab.)
June 20, 2010
All new site design!
An all-new version of SearchTempest rolled out today.
The new design is greatly streamlined, reducing clutter and complexity. It will hopefully make things much easier for new users. It will retains all the power of the current site, while allowing us to add even more features in the future.
December 30, 2009
Another new results format!
This is for those of you willing to look far and wide for long distances. I know it’s a struggle slogging through all 400 odd craigslist cities, so I’ve enlisted the help of google to build a new results format. It shows all results in the US and/or Canada in a single list, sorted by date or relevance.
December 15, 2009
Brand New Server
You may have notice SearchTempest lagging out a bit around dinnertime lately. Well, I’ve just upgraded to a brand new server with dual quad-core cpus, and other such fanciness, so lag should be a thing of the past!
September 28, 2009
Through a combination of code optimizations, compression, caching, etc, I’ve managed to cut the amount of traffic between SearchTempest and your browser by more than half. I’ve also added smart pre-fetching, so the results page (particularly searches with multiple pages of results) should be much snappier. The end result: SearchTempest.com should now be 2-3 times faster! I imagine this will be especially beneficial for mobile and dial-up browsers, but regardless of your connection speed, faster is always better, right?
September 1, 2009
Added about 140 new craigslist cities today. Also removed a few duplicates where craiglist lists the same city under two states.
If you are selecting states manually though, don’t worry – you’ll still be able to find the cities in either location.
July 29, 2009
After you’ve run a few searches, you’ll notice that the keywords entry is now a combobox. You can use it to type in keywords as usual, or you can select one of your recent searches from a dropdown! It loads all the options from the selected search too, like category and price.
Of course, if you don’t like this option or don’t want your searches saved, you can turn it off under the ‘Other’ tab of the Options menu.
Aaand more performance improvements
Made more changes to improve the load times of the site, and there are even more to come…
July 9, 2009
Made some changes to the results page to speed up load times. With my test setup, the page now loads about 33% faster!
I added an Amazon section similar to the eBay section. I hope people find it useful, especially since it took a bit of doing to cobble something decent together with their tools! (I think it turned out fairly well. 🙂 ) Either way though, I learned a fair bit from doing it, which helped with the speed improvements mentioned above.
Naturally, if you don’t want the Amazon results, it’s easy to get rid of them. Just uncheck the ‘Include Amazon.com results’ checkbox on the main page. (If you already said no to eBay results, I’ve unchecked it for you by default.)
May 17, 2009
You’ll notice the ‘car search’ link on the main page is now active! I believe the car search site is now at a point where it surpasses SearchTempest when searching for vehicles – and it’ll only get better from here! So check it out!
I’ve made a bunch of small improvements focused on making the site easier to use.
Particularly, all the additional options have been consolidated into a single (much) simpler pop-up box, accessible by clicking the ‘Options’ link at the top-right of either the search or results page.
I’ve also made a number of improvements behind the scenes to hopefully make things even faster and more stable.
November 12, 2008
Search by Zip and Distance!
It’s now much easier to enter your search into SearchTempest! Instead of manually choosing states and cities to search, all you have to do is type in your zip code, and you’re good to go!
Also, cities in the results page can now be sorted by distance from you and by size, as well as alphabetically.
You could always do this by bookmarking the results page. Now it’s even easier, using the “Add to Favorites” button on the results page. When you open the page from your favorites/bookmarks, you get the newest results for that search!
October 30, 2008
I’ve heard from a number of you that you like to use RSS feeds for searches you run often. (That way you only get the newest results, and don’t have to keep coming and checking back.) However, it’s a pain to manually go to each craigslist city to grab the feed. Now SearchTempest does it for you! Just look for the RSS icon () on the results page!
September 24, 2008
Search from Results Page
I’ve had a few people ask for this, and I agree it definitely has value. You can now change the parameters of your search and re-run it right from the results page!
July Something, 2008
Through my ongoing, industrious research, I’ve discovered even more hidden craigslist keyword functions. These are all now organized under an ‘Advanced Keywords’ mode. Click the little [?] beside it on the main page for more info…
SearchTempest now provides eBay results as well as Craigslist, with no added effort required. Many people tend to search both Craigslist and eBay, so hopefully this’ll save you some time.
Of course, if it doesn’t, feel free to turn it off; SearchTempest will remember your choice and won’t show it again. Just uncheck the ‘show eBay’ box on the main page, or press the big red ‘X’ above the eBay results!
June 15, 2008
Multiple cities, all on the same page! Should speed up browsing nicely, especially for those searching for rare items. Learn more here!
June 7, 2008
Rather than clicking the ‘Next City’ and ‘Previous City’ buttons, you can now use the ‘N’ and ‘P’ keys on your keyboard (or in Firefox, the left and right arrows) to switch between cities. Should speed things up a bit! Thanks to Jim for suggesting this one.
Firefox 3.0 fixed
Since it looks like Firefox isn’t going to bother fixing their broken object element before releasing v3, I went ahead and coded a work-around. SOoo the site should now work just fine in Firefox 3 as well as 2. 🙂
Hopefully it’s obvious, but SearchTempest’s looking a little cooler now! Thanks to web designer Jason, and Steve from the Craigslist Handbook, we now have a whole new look. Hopefully it’ll be even easier to use too!
Mar. 14, 2008
Improved keyword functionality
I had planned to introduce this along with the new site design, but… it was done, and I couldn’t make you wait.
You can now choose whether to search for ads with ALL your keywords, ANY of the keywords, or a complete phrase.
Mar. 8, 2008
CLH Kijiji.. Canada
I can’t believe how many requests I got for this! OK.. now you can search Kijiji Canada too. 🙂
Jan.? Something, 2008
Now Search Kijiji, in the friendly, SearchTempest fashion! CLH Kijiji
Works in IE!
Finally figured out a way around IE stupidness to get the site working in everyone’s favourite built-into-windows browser! Of course, everyone should still use Firefox, but if you can’t, now you CAN use SearchTempest.com!
Oct. 13, 2007
Added a version of the ‘U.S. Regions’ dropdown for the rest of the world.
‘Major Cities Only’ Checkbox
You can now choose to only show results from the largest cities in your search region. Could be handy when you just want to take a quick look, or to keep craigslist happy if you do a Lot of searching…
Added a fancy AJAX poll to the results page. Sometimes change the poll question too… heh.. 🙂
The results page now features a refresh button to bring you back to the list of results for the currently viewed city. (That way you don’t have to back-back-back out of the ads. Also helpful if the internet breaks and the page for that city doesn’t load.
March 25, 2007
Just added the new ‘Regions’ dropdown box for US Regions! Please let me know a) if it’s useful, b) if I messed anything up, and c) if any of the regions need tweaking, if there’re too many, too few, etc.
Dec. 3, 2006
Added New Cities
Added all the new Craigslist cities! Looks like there’s quite a few. Managed to delete all the biggest cities in the process, but got it fixed quickly, thanks to a heads-up from Terry and Ken.
Nov. something, 2006
Horizontal Add/Remove Layout
Changed the default layout for the main search page to something (hopefully) more user-friendly. I kinda prefer the more compact nature of the old, vertical layout though, so if you feel the same, you can switch back using the link at the top-right of the main page.
Oct. 16, 2006
Added ‘Has Picture’ and ‘Search Titles’, plus other options
Craigslist recently added these two vital options, so I’ve incorporated them as well. Also added was the “By Dealer/By Owner” option for the cars & trucks for sale category. If I’ve missed any options that you can find on Craigslist (or if you notice that they’ve added more), please let me know – I promise to get them up here asap.
Also while I was doing some preliminary work for this yesterday, it turns out I broke the results page rather badly.. so a big thanks to Steve E. for pointing that out!
Oct. 12, 2006
To be honest, as useful as I think this service is, I was pretty surpised that people would be kind enough to donate for my time. Thanks to Terry for sending me an email to *ask for a way to donate*! I must say, that was some pretty cool recognition. So as requested, there’s now a paypal link like this one at the bottom of the main page. Please don’t feel any pressure to donate. (But I won’t discourage you either 😉 )
Sept. 30, 2006
Improved <Back> Button
Improved/fixed how the back button works in the results page. Now lets you back through the cities you have viewed.
Thanks to SearchTempest user Bob for getting me thinking on this.
Added Tips and Help
I actually put the ‘tips’ up on the results page a few days ago, but added a few more today. Added a couple of new help pages too.
Canada and Worldwide
Search is now available for every craigslist city everywhere. New cities will be adopted as they are added to craigslist (but if we miss one, feel free to let us know).
Saved Search Info
Your most recent search will now be saved by searchtempest.com. When you return, your search cities and other info will be ready for you. To start fresh, simply click the “clear all” button.
The Results page has been overhauled! I’m actually quite pleased with it – it fits into the craigslist colour scheme nicely, and should make viewing results much more efficient. However, if you liked it better the old way, just click the “View results in whole window” link in the top corner to switch back.
Even more old news from the ancient days of pre-blog:
Update: April 4, 2008
ALL NEW CRAIGSHELPER!
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but SearchTempest has been completely redesigned. Functionality is largely the same, with a few added tidbits (like the new keywords functions) and some stuff under the hood.
Hopefully the most obvious difference, though, is the all-new, streamlined, slick, hopefully-user-friendly interface! It’s been fully tested on Firefox 2 (Mac and Windows) and IE 6 and 7, as well as visually checked on a number of other browsers. However, if you notice anything hinky (or janky), please let me know – I’ll get it fixed right quick. 🙂
Now go forth! Search Craigslist!
Update: Feb. 6, 2008
Craig’s Helper KIJIJI!!
You asked, and I … finally… delivered! The beta version of Craig’s Helper Kijiji is here!
For those who don’t know what Kijiji is, it’s basically a Craigslist clone, made by eBay (who own 1/4 of Craigslist. Heh..) You can check them out here. Anyway, it shares Craigslist’s fatal flaw (I’m sure you know what I mean.. ), hence the site.
Keep in mind it’s still in Beta, so I haven’t prettied it up yet, but it should be working, so if it isn’t, please let me know!
SearchTempest.com will soon be getting a facelift! Nothing too drastic – want to keep everything nice and functional (want to improve it a bit actually), but it would be nice to pretty-up the main page a bit. That’s all I’ll say for now.. 🙂
Also, this isn’t really upcoming, but the switch over to JTLNet is complete. A few stumbling-blocks, but nothing too bad, and their support’s been good. Plus, according to the poll, it’s faster too! Also, I’ve switched all my domains over to NameCheap, so I now have no connection to GoDaddy.
Update: Jan. 5, 2008
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who uses the site and recommends it to their friends. I love reading forums where the conversation goes something like…
- Does anybody know how to search more than one craigslist city at once?
- Try www.SearchTempest.com
- Thanks dude!
- You rule man!
- Whoa, that’s helpful.
It’s rewarding, I guess you could say. Special thanks to WarDriver, whoever you are. WarDriver’s signature in forums across the interweb reads
The ONLY way to search Craig’s List.
That’s just cool.
HanksHelper Vehicle Search going strong
It’s still in beta, but it’s quickly becoming cool.
Go check it out!
Hosting Problems Resolved
I’ve decided to switch to JTLNet. I’ll let you know how it goes. There may be a brief outage during the switchover, but I don’t expect so. Will keep you posted.
Update: Dec. 9, 2007
As some of you noticed, the site has been down for a period of several hours today. Allegedly the results script suddenly put a huge strain on GoDaddy.com’s servers, causing them to shut down Craig’s Helper with absolutely no advance warning.
I am not showing any increase in traffic today, so I can only conclude that GoDaddy.com is ahem mistaken. I currently have the site on a lifeline, running some of it off my home server, until I find alternate hosting. If you appreciate Craig’s Helper, and don’t appreciate this wanton abuse of power by GoDaddy.com, it might be appropriate to write to them to express your (entirely justifiable) outrage. 😉
You should be able to continue using the site as normal, and I will make every effort to find a permanent solution asap. Oh, and if you did happen to hammer the site with thousands of requests yesterday… kindly let me know. 😉
Another update: The site is working in Firefox now, but not yet in IE. I hope to have both operational again very soon.
Update: Nov. 26, 2007
The new site is now up in beta form! It’s not yet perfect by any means, and I’m still actively working on it, but I expect it’s useful in its current form. Therefore.. I present it to you! Go find your next car at…
Most important of all my news, Craig’s Little Helper now works with Internet Explorer! Firefox is still far superior, and will run faster, but since many people are unable to install Firefox (at work, etc), this should be a big help!
Go tell all your friends! 😉
Next thing is, in response to the frequent requests I get for a tool to manage Craigslist ad campaigns, and also admittedly because ads=money (although the first thing’s true too! :-)), I’ve decided to put up a couple of banners for AdsOnCraigs.com. It’s not free, but if you do a lot of business on craigslist, it may be what you’re looking for.
Thing the third! It seems a lot of people use my site here to search for cars. That got me thinking… Much like there are 14,000 different craigslist cities, you’ll find at least 14,000 (or maybe 5-10..) sites online with used car listings. (AutoTrader, Cars.com, CarsDirect, etc.) That’s no good.
So.. I am well on the way to rectifying that problem. I won’t say too much now, but check back here occasionally – I hope to have it up in beta form soon.
CraigsHelper is changing its name (and website domain) to SearchTempest.com.
But I like the old name!
And so do I! However, there were a number of good reasons for this change. It boils down to two main ones though:
- SearchTempest.com offers more than just basic craigslist searches. Of course I will absolutely continue to focus on the making craigslist searches easier. But at the same time I will keep working on making all aspects of your online shopping experience better, and it makes sense for the name to reflect that.
- This is the big one. Craigslist doesn’t like related sites that use their ‘Craig’ name. And that’s only fair. As always, I try to do everything possible not to irritate the big guy. The site hasn’t drawn his wrath yet, and this change is an important step to keep it that way.
So I hope that clears things up a bit. I know you’ll miss the old name, and so will I. But SearchTempest will continue to offer everything that made CraigsHelper great, so I’m confident you’ll grow to like it just as much.
If you have any other thoughts or questions, I always welcome your feedback!