image provider

Image Finder : Search the Web For A Given File


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This project is no longer so pressing with the advent of Google image searching. You give this program the name of some file, e.g. elephant.png. It then submits it to the AltaVista search engine. Then it scans all the pages AltaVista provides looking for references to that file. It then downloads all the matches and puts them in a results directory. It does not display the files. You can then later examine the files with JASC PaintShop Pro, or something similar to see which elephant.png is the best for your purposes. You could also use it to find *.HTML files etc.

Since the images are flat files and there is no index to them, you can be viewing and deleting the files with another program even while the search is in progress.

Once you get the basic version working you can add some fancy features:

There are many commercial programs that claim to do this function, but I could not get any of them to work. These include:
Canto Cumulus
Extensis Portfolio

After I wrote this, Google introduced their image finder which works quite well especially if you used the advanced searched options to specify the rough size of image you want and how colourful. Unfortunately, the technology is not there yet to eliminate duplicates or near duplicates. It does not let you filter out spam images from sites that put up zillions of useless images. Firefox CoolIris builds on Google images and other similar features now available in other search engines.

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