Evri Toolbar: add in-text related information and media to your browsing experience

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Evri is a service that indexes the web and delivers a different kind of search based on discovering relationships between entities. The Evri toolbar brings an Evri search box in your browser toolbars area. It also introduces Evri term highlighting, which enables you to hover over a highlighted term in your browser and get a floating.

tabbed window containing a definition of the keyword, some connections it has to other entities, and the latest news articles, images, and videos that relate to it.The Evri toolbar introduces two different (albeit related) functionalities into your browser experience. I will discuss each in turn below:

Evri Search: if you’re wondering why you would need Evri search in your toolbar when you’ve already got Google, I can report that Evri is a slightly different kind of search. Without going into the technology of it (which I’d written about here), you can think of Evri as search for the long term, a place where you would go if you’re following something on a periodic basis (say your favorite band, a book you’ve read, your favorite politician, etc) in order to keep abreast of the latest buzz (news/videos/relationships) that is developing around your topic of interest. For example, I have found Evri Search to be a great way to keep informed about developments relating to a couple of companies that I’ve invested in, whereby Evri search brings most of what is published about these to a single page.

Evri Term Highlighting: Imagine reading a news article with a section or paragraph about something that you’re interested in. Now imagine hovering over the keyword for that subject in the text that you’re reading to instantly bring up related news articles, images and videos, (and a definition from Wikipedia). This is exactly what the Evri toolbar sets out to do, and it does it for a wide range of general interest topics/entities that you may encounter

If you’re a developer and you think you could utilize this type of information in your own application, you should take a look at Evri’s new developer API. Everything needed to make this toolbar application, as well as the Evri topic pages, and many of their widgets is all in this simple REST based API. Its free to use for 10,000 requests per day, and it sounds like with some nice link back love, they’ll probably let you go a lot higher in volume.

What I like about Evri term highlighting:

  • The ability to browse related news items or media related to the topic I am interested in on the spot, simply by hovering over a term.
  • The results: there are a number of services that attempt to deliver contextual related content, but Evri’s related results seem to be generally of higher quality than others that attempt to do the same thing. (Which is not to say there isn’t room for improvement still).
  • The related news and video tabs are my two favorites. Note that videos play without leaving the page, straight in the popup window.
  • Can be quickly enabled/disabled by simply clicking a button on the toolbar. In case you did not feel like seeing any highlighted terms.
  • Does not display highlighted results on secure sites. Which means your webmail and online transactions will be free of keyword highlighting.
  • Only loads content once you click on the highlighted term. And then after that loads the content for each tab you click when you actually click it, preserving bandwidth.
  • Works on IE and Firefox both (which is refreshing, since this sort of service is frequently limited to Firefox users).

What I do not like so much:

  • Highlighted terms can glut your page with information. This, of course, is why they made it so easy to switch them off. But the question remains whether the value added outweighs the cost in sheer informational overload.
  • Provides a good number of highlighted words for most news, entertainment, and general interest topics, and most keywords that have a Wikipedia entry. When surfing other sites or topics, however (such as Freewaregenius), the highlights will be few and far between and limited to entities that are fairly well known.
  • Too many tabs? Currently, there are five (Overview, News/web, Connections, Images, Videos), with Overview always pre-selected. I’ve found that I mostly care for two, News and Videos.
  • Performance: on slow connections it can take a bit of time for the highlighted terms to populate.

Wish list: or how this software can be made even better

  • The ability to select a default tab rather than the current “overview”. I’d prefer the “News/Web” link to open as default personally.
  • The ability for the user to set some sort of intelligent filtering. For example, if a user is on a page that contains 20 links, the software might present, say, only the ten that it rates as being the most value added. The rating can be as simple as opting for the specific or niche rather than the general and/or well known.
  • The ability to choose from different styles of text highlighting; such as a little star next to the words rather than the aggressive yellow-marker style of highlighting, or even highlighting that only shows up when the mouse cursor is within a certain distance from it.
  • Sticking to the main article: currently the text highlighting includes the text of the article itself as well as the navigation, sidebar(s), header, footer, and even some of the ads. It would look and feel better if it focused on the article in my opinion, as it is safe to assume that that’s where the user’s interest lies.
  • Limiting duplicates: if an article mentions Barack Obama 10 times, highlighting each and every one of them will likely send users reaching for the “stop highlighting” button. Might be better to highlight just one or to limit the frequency to the two or three that are furthest apart.

The verdict: an interesting software that delivers fairly good results. If you haven’t tried Evri search then I suggest you check it out. What’s cool about Evri Toolbar’s keyword highlighting is that the related links and results are generally of very high quality, especially when compared to other similar services (e.g. Headup for Firefox).

My impression is that while this can contribute towards a richer browsing experience on some sites (e.g. news, entertainment, financial, and general news sites), for most other sites you might surf the keywords that light up on the screen will be general entities that are not very value added and may seem like added clutter alongside the in-text ads and links and whatever else may be inserted in the body of the text of an average article.

The Evri Toolbar is still in its beginning stages and has the potential to get a lot better. In the meanwhile check it out for yourself right now; you will find it quite interesting.

Version Tested: 1.2.0.2

Compatibility: Windows (XP/2000/Vista), Mac, Linux. Runs on Internet Explorer 6+ or Firefox 2/3.

The program page no longer exists, but you can download ver. 1.4.2.0 of the program here.