26. January 2012 08:52
When we looked at buying seeds this year, we had a bunch of catalogs and seed companies to choose from. It would be really great to be able to quickly determine who has what variety, the cost and whether it is still in stock. Certain popular seeds tend to sell out quickly.
When I started looking into this, it seems like a task that would be difficult to accomplish without some direct assistance and interaction from the seed companies. And I’m not sure they would be that interested. I still think there might be a way to do this with some sort of screen scraping app, but it would take some doing. And it might not make the seed companies happy, even though my goal is to support those who are selling organic and open-pollinated seeds.
Still might be a fun project to try. The problem is not everyone uses a distinctive enough url structure to make this easy. It’s also not trivial to compare prices, since some companies sell by the number, some by the ounce and it also depends how large a quantity you are buying. If you could find the price, I guess you could just display it.
In the meantime I created a Google custom search that searches all of my favorite companies. I tried to filter down the urls to be as specific as possible (e.g. use the item detail page, not every url in the site). You can do this with some of the sites, but not all. Makes me wish everyone was using MVC/friendly urls. Mother Earth News already has a custom search like this, but it’s hidden in their site and they search several hundred companies. So the signal to noise is pretty bad if you ask me.
You can check out mine and see if it’s helpful. I will likely add some additional companies into the mix, but trying to keep it a bit more curated.