searching with item specifics

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United Kingdom United Kingdom
james3
Kudos: 40
Joined: Mar 7, 2009
searching with item specifics
7 Mar 2009
Does anyone know of any software that will do regular automated searches and alert you using the criteria in the "item specifics" fields?

Most software I've tried only lets me search by word after choosing a main category at best (such as Munnin). An example of what I want is to tell the software to search for cars that have a certain range of mileage and registration date. I can do this manually on ebay in the refine search section on the left (the product finder) but so far not automatically. A daily ebay "favourite search" email is too little too late.

I can't believe someone hasn't done this yet. Anyone?
Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
Kudos: 11,619
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Re: searching with item specifics
10 Mar 2009
Hi james3

I think Prospector will do this for you. It has a "Captured Search" feature which can be used for "Complex attribute, regional or international searches. You can set up a search on eBay with any settings, and save it for replay."

Let me know if it does what you want!

PS. I'm a little surprised that Munnin doesn't allow you to filter by item specifics, it may be worth contacting them for support.

[Last edited: 10 Mar 2009]
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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United Kingdom United Kingdom
james3
Kudos: 40
Joined: Mar 7, 2009
Re: searching with item specifics
11 Mar 2009
Hi Andy,

Ok. A short while after I posted about the item specifics I realised that I could actually get round that part of the problem. I remembered that JBidWatcher allows you to import an ebay search url. This is basically what the captured search in Prospector does that you mentioned (thanks for that). I had installed prospector but missed that feature when I was obsessed with my item specifics! It turns out that prospector can also do it another way by importing your favorite searches from "my ebay".

However as far as I can tell prospector (or jbidwatcher) can't alert me any time a new item in one of these searches appears. I basically want an on-screen alert that stays open until i close it. A sound alert won't do because I could easily miss that and would still have to check the software regularly which defeats the object of having an alert! I also need the feature for it to do the automatic searches at least every 10 minutes otherwise I could easily miss the buy-it-now items.

So far, these are the software I've found that can import search-urls but none of them have the on-screen alerts I'm looking for!

auction-chief
jbidwatcher
esr Auction Watcher
Auction Defender
prospector
auction watch google desktop
HarvEX

Any ideas? I've got nearly 40 pieces of ebay searching sotware on my computer! I'll have no room left soon.
Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
Kudos: 11,619
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Re: searching with item specifics
12 Mar 2009
OK, there are some tools specialising in finding new Buy It Nows:

SearchBasic
JustDeals
Auction Alert

The JustDeals website seems to have gone AWOL at the moment but you can get it from here: downloads.zdnet.co.uk/0,1000000375,39320821s,00.htm

There are no reviews yet of any of those - would be much appreciated if you could add one.
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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United Kingdom United Kingdom
james3
Kudos: 40
Joined: Mar 7, 2009
Re: searching with item specifics
29 Apr 2009
Hi Andy,

Thanks for the reply.

Prospector has been a mixed bag for me. It turns out that it can do email alerts for new listings. So with the right email program you could effectively get an on screen alert with each email.

However there is a different problem with its captured search. Basically ebay allows you 20000 api calls to its database using an ebay program like prospector. Prospector's standard search uses 1 api call per search but a captured search uses 2 api calls per "item found". For the searches I was doing I was reaching my api limit within a few hours and there was no way around this but to do searches less often which defeated the point.

Anyway I've concluded that a solution doesn't really exist at the moment. Maybe someone will find a solution in the future and add to this thread.

None of the software you mentioned do the job but I've noticed that SearchBasic seems exactly the same as searchdigger except for the name.
Herts, England United Kingdom
Andy
Kudos: 11,619
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Re: searching with item specifics
29 Apr 2009
Hi James.

That's a shame. It sounds like the Captured Search is downloading information for each item in the search results, which I wouldn't think is necessary for you. It might be worth getting in touch with Prospector (if you haven't already) to see if there's a way to turn that option off.

The 20,000 API call limit per User ID per day for desktop applications hasn't come up before, thanks for mentioning it. For anyone interested, there's a little more information here, under the question "What are API Rate Limits and why do we have them?": developer.ebay.com/businessbenefits/faq/

eBay Developers Program wrote:

For applications that are client based (i.e. given to users and run on the desktop) or have large distributions, it is likely that a User ID base rate limit will drive the optimal efficiency. In this case, every eBay User ID can make up to 20,000 calls per day. Note: this limit actually applies on a per-User ID basis, not on a per application basis. So, a person will be able to make up to 20,000 calls in aggregate from all the applications they are using that are User ID limited.
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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United Kingdom United Kingdom
james3
Kudos: 40
Joined: Mar 7, 2009
Re: searching with item specifics / prospector
3 Jun 2009
Hi Andy,

Yes, I was in contact with Cheng from Prospector about this issue a while ago. He was incredibly helpful but unfortunately there wasn't a solution that worked at the time. One suggestion was to reduce the number of items fetched to its minimum of 30 to reduce the api calls. At the time this didn't work for captured searches but I've just tested it again today with 8.1 and it's working now. So that may be a workable solution for now but the api calls could still pile up if you're not careful.

Anyway, I did discover that searching item specifics using the api is definitely possible and was told it might appear in Prospector if Cheng has time. I amassed a set of developer links about this issue if anybody else is interested.

Overall Prospector is very good but I think some other ways Prospector could improve are:

be able to order by total price (item plus shipping).
be able to view results at start-up without updating.
different updating rates for each search (would help reduce api calls)
have different tabs for watched and closed items from each search instead of a single "watch tab" / option to keep closed items in their original tab.
automatically updating prices in tabs/watch tab.

I did find one other application that can do visual and email alerts for url searches and that's AuctionSleuth through its "custom bin" searches.

But I'm still surprised that there aren't a few applications that do the initial things I mentioned. I guess the reason is that ebay discourage screen scraping and it's always open to breakage when the ebay web interface changes. Hopefully the fact that ebay has recently stopped paying for affiliate links in third party software won't affect the developer scene too badly and someone will implement item specifics using the api.

[Last edited: 13 Jun 2009]

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