However, I would go even further and suggest that the search industry (enterprise search as well as internet search engines) would also benefit if it were to define and adopt a standard response syntax for results (at least a response syntax that could be provided as an option). Obviously, for most users a straightforward HTML presentation is desirable as when they interact with an engine through their browser, they want to be able to view the results in their browser.
However, an ability to request results from an arbitrary engine in a standard format would be a great step forward – it would vastly simplify aggregation of results for federated search and more generally it could present the ability to programmatically interact with multiple engines for a variety of other purposes.
I know of one attempt that seems to drive to this – OpenSearch (which is associated with A9 – Amazon’s search engine) – a set of elements that can be used as extensions to an RSS format. Are there others? How widely known (and adopted?) is OpenSearch as a format?