What is OpenSearch and How Does It Work?

Table of Contents


OpenSearch is an open source technology that helps in discovering and presenting search results in a standard and structured way. It is an open format that helps in defining search engine parameters and allowing interoperability between search engines, web browsers, and other search-related applications. In this article, we will discuss the basics of OpenSearch, its functioning, and how it can be implemented with PHP clients.

What is OpenSearch?

OpenSearch is an open format specification that outlines how search engines and search-related applications should exchange search engine data or results. The primary purpose of OpenSearch is to enable the integration of search engines and other search-related applications with a common and standardized interface.

The OpenSearch specification is a set of XML elements and attributes that provide a framework for sites or applications to list search services, aggregate results, and customize their presentation. This way, developers can create search results in an open and interoperable manner, ensuring that they can be discovered by other applications.

How Does OpenSearch Work?

To understand how OpenSearch works, let us first look at its structure. The OpenSearch specification comprises a set of XML files or feeds, which are provided by the search engine or application. These feeds contain information about the search service, including the search engine parameters, such as the query, the results page, and the search engine’s base URL.

When a user initiates a search query, their web browser or search-related application reads the OpenSearch information file and retrieves the search service. This information is then used to direct the search engine request to the correct URL and request the appropriate data feed. The feed is then formatted into a readable format and presented to the user as a search result.

OpenSearch with PHP Clients

PHP client libraries are tools that allow developers to interact with the OpenSearch protocol in PHP code. One of the popular PHP clients for OpenSearch is php-open-search. This library provides a basic set of classes, functions, and HTTP communication routines to enable developers to create OpenSearch compliant client applications.

In this example, we will use the php-open-search library to search for ‘hello world’ on Bing and display its results.

$bing_plugin = new OpenSearch\Plugin\Bing();
$query = new OpenSearch\Query('hello world', $bing_plugin);
$results = $query->getResults();
foreach($results as $result) {
echo $result->getTitle();

This code first loads the OpenSearch library and then specifies that we want to use the Bing search plugin. Next, we create a new search query with ‘hello world’ as the query text and Bing as the search engine.

Finally, we use the `getResults()` function to request the results from Bing. The results are then displayed by iterating through each result and displaying its title.

How WPSOLR can Help

WPSOLR is a powerful WordPress plugin that can greatly simplify the implementation of OpenSearch with PHP clients. It provides an integrated search experience, allowing users to search multiple data sources in a single search query. Additionally, it has built-in support for OpenSearch and makes it straightforward to integrate new search engine services into your WordPress website using the OpenSearch standard.

WPSOLR also provides useful customizations and enhancements for search results, features like auto-suggest, advanced faceting and filtering, and improved relevancy algorithms. This makes it a great choice for anyone looking to elevate their website’s search experience with OpenSearch.


OpenSearch is a powerful and flexible technology that helps standardize the exchange of search engine data and results. It provides a standardized interface for search engines, web browsers, and other search-related applications, making it easier for developers to create open and interoperable search applications. By using PHP clients, like php-open-search, and integrating with WordPress plugins, like WPSOLR, developers can take advantage of OpenSearch to create powerful and intuitive search experiences.

Read more related content

Speed up Toolset Archive Views

WPSOLR will automatically speed up Toolset Archive Views You do not have to choose between flexibility and scalability anymore. Keep using Toolset Views plugin as your favourite

A/B Testing Apache Solr on WooCommerce

Introduction Apache Solr is a powerful open-source search platform built on Apache Lucene. It offers advanced search capabilities and has become a popular choice for