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Google Instant Preview gets ever stranger

 7:34 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

So we've got the Search Engines forum and the Google forum. Where's the forum about Google-as-search-engine? Can never find it when I need it.

Just when you thought G### preview had hit the absolute limit... - - [07/Jan/2013:11:31:50 -0800] "GET /directory/directory/music/bandplayedon.midi HTTP/1.1" 200 1082 "http://www.example.com/directory/directory/strawberryblonde.html" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.4 (KHTML, like Gecko; Google Web Preview) Chrome/22.0.1229 Safari/537.4"

I accept that they have to download every last image, including the ones that their own calculations must tell them won't be visible in the preview. They have to download piwik.php-- or try to-- because who knows? I might have some vital user-visible process cleverly concealed behind the name of an analytics program. And they have to download midi files because ...

Uh ...

I tried it. (Which, incidentally, was not easy. At some time in the past I managed to disable Preview-- or maybe my browser did-- and now I can't figure out how to bring it back even on request. Had to go to another browser.) Preview does not play sound files. It does not offer a supplementary "listen to the music" option.

Does it place less strain on their computing resources to download absolutely everything than to provide Preview with a short list of extensions? If your page includes an embedded three-hour movie, would Preview download that too?

:: sigh ::

Has anyone ever met a file format or extension that Preview didn't try to load?



 8:52 pm on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just noticed that there's an instant preview "test'in the Webmaster Tools lab section. It shows three cases - on-demand, pre-render, and mobile.

I remember that when Google first introduced instant preview, it showed a kind of "Skewed" off-centered view of one of my site's pages, and I had to add a small top-centered image to every page to get it to come out right. But I don't remember the exact details.

Anyway, you might check out Webmaster Tools as part of your investigation.


 1:51 am on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Lucy, if another site is linking directly to the midi file from their page then Google Preview will load your file, even when previewing the other site's page. I have confirmed examples of this in my server logs.

So I have a choice - add the file type to robots.txt and end up with a lot of files indexed with the idiotic "we don't know what this is because it's blocked" description or live with the preview problem. I considered giving Google a 503 but then they start to doubt the quality of my site so... lose, lose, lose.

I've decided to return 503 anyway, it's best for my site and Google can work it out on their end, or not.


 7:25 am on Jan 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

if another site is linking directly to the midi file from their page then Google Preview will load your file, even when previewing the other site's page

Oh, it's not another site, it's my own: the midi belongs to the page being previewed. Twice, at that: as an embedded file and then again in the <noscript> version.

I just thought it was ridiculous for Preview to include something that cannot possibly affect the look of the page in any way whatsoever. That's why I threw in the rhetorical question about pages that happen to contain multi-megabyte movies.

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