SharePoint 2010 : The Search User Interface - The Query Box

5/19/2013 7:31:21 PM

The query box, also referred to as the small search box, is generally the first place a user can go to interact with search. In a standard deployment, the query box can be found in the upper right quadrant on any site outside of a search center. Examples of where the query box can be found include the home page, site collections, sites, subsites, team sites, and lists. Depending on the customizations done, the search center may be found in other locations on a page or can be found worked into various Web Parts. Unless the design of a site has been customized, the query box can be found in the location shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1. The SP2010 query box

The query box provides a free text field for entering search queries. In SharePoint 2010, the query box can be used to enter search queries for documents, people, sites, lists, and any other items found in crawled content sources. By default it is set to search the site the user is currently on, but depending on the configuration of the query box, and whether the administrator has made the scope picker available, the query box can be set up to search against any available site or site collection.

These settings have been made to provide a thorough overview of the standard search features made available in SP2010. Although not automatically enabled with the deployment of a search center, these customizations are simple and standard to many deployments. They do not require any special custom development and can be easily enabled through the site settings.

The query box can accept the standard search syntax used throughout all search fields in SP2010. Unlike MOSS 2007, SP2010 supports advanced query syntax. Although not necessarily the most efficient place to build complex search queries, the query box can, in fact, execute all of the same search parameters as the Advanced Search page found on a search center.

When users enter search queries in the query box and execute the search, they are redirected to a search results page with items relevant to the executed search returned. The returned search results are provided based on the entered query, scope, and user permissions. The search center the query box routes to is established by the chosen scope. The user can then interact with the search results as if the search had been executed through a search center. As stated earlier, if the default scope is used, the search results will return results only from the site the user was on when he or she executed the query. To search against a broader range of sites, the user needs to select a different scope, navigate higher in the site hierarchy, or execute the query through the search center. Searches entered through a query box without a different site selected will return results similar to those shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. Site search results

Taking Advantage of the Scope Picker

To broaden or sharpen a search through the query box, the scope picker can be used. Scopes are set up by administrators and provide options for the application of pre-determined rules to a search. The most common application of scopes is to specify a target site or site collection, but scopes can also be used to select different search pages such as People search, as well as a combination of other parameters, such as those found on the Advanced Search page. Scopes are not generally created on the fly, but instead are created by the site administrator for the most commonly needed search parameters.

When available, scopes are accessed through a drop-down to the left of the query box as shown in Figure 3. By default, the site currently being accessed is chosen. To change the scope, click the drop-down and select the desired scope. When a scope for a different site or site collection is chosen, the executed query will return results outside of those available only through the current site.


Figure 3. Search scopes and the query box

When the search is executed, the target site or site collection will be listed next to the search query above the results (Figure 4).


Figure 4. Search scopes and the results page

After a result set is returned, the capability to change the selected scope or query is made available. By selecting a different scope and executing a different query, a new set of results will be returned. This provides the ability to change search parameters as needed without navigating back to the originating site or site collection.

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