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I'd like to create a custom scope that searches and returns results from an online source for personal use.

Is this possible? And if so, how?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes it is absolutely possible and really easy to create new scopes. The Ubuntu App Developer site has lots of content to get you started writing scopes:

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For development in python:

Update for 12.04:

Unity lens development with singlet has been integrated into quickly:

quickly create unity-lens <lens-name>

For 11.10:

You might want to look at a very nice wrapper class developed by Michael Hall called singlet:

A simple hello world lens would look like this:

#! /usr/bin/python
from singlet.lens import SingleScopeLens, IconViewCategory
from singlet.utils import run_lens

class HelloWorldLens(SingleScopeLens):
    class Meta:
        name = 'helloworld'

    cat1 = IconViewCategory("Cat One", "stock_yet")

    def search(self, phrase, results):
        results.append('' % phrase,
                             phrase, phrase, '')
if __name__ == "__main__":
    import sys
    run_lens(HelloLens, sys.argv)

Which is a lot simpler and faster to write than the original library versions.

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The Ubuntu Wiki has a tutorial on how to write a Lens that uses Vala. Saravanan Thirumuruganathan wrote one for Python. The Unity Sample Place has some simple example lenses written in python and Vala.

As far as I know it's not (yet?) possible to write lenses in PHP.

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There are GObject bindings for PHP (, so it should be possible, although learning python might be easier than making them work. – cscarney Dec 10 '11 at 18:33
Please note that the linked python tutorial uses old API, the one on Ubuntu wiki is up-to-date. – mhr3 Dec 21 '11 at 16:44

There are a bunch of tutorials in the Ubuntu Lens wiki. The easiest I think is one I found on a blog here.

Here is the wiki.

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These are basically the links given in the question. How is this helping? – xubuntix May 11 '12 at 7:48
the blog link is not in the question – RobotHumans May 11 '12 at 13:11

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