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I'm trying to allow the author of an entry to be searchable using expression engine's simple search form. Is this possible?

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It should be possible.

Using EE's stock advanced search form you can include a "member name" as a free text search field, see http://ellislab.com/expressionengine/user-guide/modules/search/advanced.html

If you wanted to pull in precise names you could look at using a plugin to pull a list into the search form, eg https://exp-resso.com/freemember - there may be other plugins you could use at http://devot-ee.com - failing that a simple SQL query should do the trick.

Failing that Solspace's Super search modile - http://www.solspace.com/docs/super_search/search/ - has the ability to include author information in searches.

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