Google launches two new tools

'Instant Previews' provides a graphic overview of search results; 'Refine' is 'a power tool for data wranglers'

Google has announced the launch of two new tools, one aimed at the general searcher and one designed for heavy users of complex data sets.

Instant Previews

'Instant Previews' allows users to see what a website is like from within the search engine results page, before clicking through to the site itself. To use it, click once on the magnifying glass next to the title of any search result and a visual overview of the page will appear on the right. From there, hover your cursor over any other result to see a preview. For some previews, relevant parts of the page will be highlighted in text call out boxes, making it easier to pinpoint relevant text.  

Google claims that the initial preview image is usually served within one-tenth of a second, with previews for the other results on the page loading in the background so they can be accessed immediately.

According to Google, testing suggests that people who use Instant Previews are about 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click.

The new feature should be available in more than 40 languages soon after launch. 

Google Refine 2.0

Google Refine is described as a power tool for working with messy data sets, enabling users to transform them from one format to another, extend them with new data from external web services or other databases, and clean up inconsistencies.

Refine is an open source project. Originally called Freebase Gridworks, it was acquired by Google as part of the acquisition of Metaweb earlier this year. Now renamed, Refine version 2.0 includes a new extensions architecture, a reconciliation framework for linking records to other databases, and new transformational commands and expressions.

If you'd like to find out more, a step-by-step case study showing how to use Freebase Gridworks to generate linked data using UK local government data can be found here.