SharePoint 2010 : The Search User Interface - The Search Center

5/19/2013 7:33:56 PM

The search center is the second location users can leverage to execute searches and return results. Search centers are SharePoint sites dedicated to the function of search that hold all the search pieces, tabs, Web Parts, search pages, results pages, etc. They provide the end-to-end ability to enter advanced queries, select preferences, and retrieve, filter, and action search results.

SharePoint 2010 is not restricted to one search scope per search center. Depending on the needs of an organization, many scopes may be made available. The most common are “All Sites” and “People” search pages. In addition to these, specialized search pages may be created for different user groups, departments, sites, and federated environments, to name a few. Each search tab is designed around a fixed scope, so when the “People” search tab is accessed, it automatically applies the “People” scope.

Access to various search pages can be provided through a few paths. When a site-specific search is executed through the query box, the user is navigated to a search page for the target site. When a search is performed through the query box to a collection of sites or all sites, the user is directed to the corresponding search results page. When a user navigates to the All Sites center tab, the option can be made available to choose several search pages other than All Sites.

Note When queries are executed through the query box, the user is directed to a search center. In an out-of-the-box configuration, the difference between manually navigating to a search center and entering a site search through a query box is the availability of the Advanced Search page and the Preferences page. It is important to understand, however, that the query box can be directed to a site search results page or the same search center a user can manually navigate to.

The search center can be accessed just like any other site. Once the search center is selected, the landing page shown in Figure 1 will appear.


Figure 1. Enterprise Search Center home page

From this page, there are a few more options made available. Users can change the scope of their query through tabs above the query field, navigate to the Advanced Search page, navigate to the Preferences page, or enter a search query. The various tabs available here are generally set to different search scopes. They may be configured to execute queries against different content sets, and the search results page each tab returns can be configured for a customized look and feel. In the default SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Search Center shown in Figure 1, users can execute queries against content in the entire site collection, or select the People tab to execute a query against the people scope. The format of the search results page that returns for queries executed through each of these tabs is different. More customized deployments may offer search tabs that are specialized to the needs of a particular department or may direct queries to specific content sources.

Queries entered through the search center will function in the same manner as those entered in the search query box. By default, the standard search center home page is set to “All Sites” (Figure 2). “All Sites” is the broadest search scope available and includes all available content sources, items, and sites, with the exception of people. When a query is entered through the “All Sites” tab, the user will be navigated to the corresponding search results page.


Figure 2. Standard All Sites results page

In addition to the All Sites search tab, the People search page can be accessed by selecting the People tab above the search field. By doing so, the scope of the search is redirected to the People search results page. Figure 3 shows a standard SPS2010 People search results page. Most of the functionality on the People search results page is similar to that of the All Sites results page.


Figure 3. Standard People search results page

On both the All Sites and People search results pages, there is the option to tab between the available search scopes. In a fully developed SharePoint 2010 deployment, other search tabs may be made available.

In global companies with more than one SharePoint farm, it is common to provide access to search against federated environments through search center tabs. Federated searches may include content pulled from global search engines or other SharePoint deployments within a global company. With federated search, a query can be entered through one farm and passed to a different content source, where it is then processed by that respository's search engine.

Access to federated search is commonly provided through tabs on the search center. This allows users to search their own farms by default, but select to search against other content repositories as needed. An example of search tabs set up for federation is shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4. Federated search tabs

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