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Sharepoint 2010 : Making Search Work - Using Search

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1/19/2014 6:44:36 PM

1. Search as a Business Capability

Search is an important capability for business productivity. Throughout the course of a day, business users spend a significant amount of time retrieving documents and looking for information that can make their jobs easier. In some cases, browsing Web sites or navigating file shares for information can be effective; however, with search users can quickly access information from multiple sources and discover or recover information with less effort.

From a portal perspective, search is something that is often taken for granted. With the abundance of powerful search tools on the Web such as Google or Bing, people expect to find things very easily. Because of this, business users often expect their company search to “just work.” The satisfaction standards are very high, and the tolerance for poor results is low. Fortunately, SharePoint provides many search features that make it possible to deliver a rich and complete search experience. But be forewarned: no tool is magic—you need to plan and execute in order to make it work effectively.

As with the other aspects of the SharePoint platform, search can be used for a wide range of business purposes. In the case of an intranet solution, search may be one of many features used to drive efficiency and consistency. In the case of an enterprise search portal solution, search just might be the primary purpose for a SharePoint deployment.

While planning, it is important to clearly define what the role of search is in your SharePoint project. This definition should be explained in a scope statement of the project plan for the portal or search project. The project plan should include an executive overview, value proposition, and some boundaries around the scope of the project and the approach to be taken in designing search. The project plan should describe the search solution in terms of the value it adds to the business. The effectiveness of the search solution depends on the quality of the resulting search solution as well as proper integration and adoption by the business. For these reasons, it is vital that that executive sponsors support concepts in the project plan. With backing from the executives and enough creative space to progressively elaborate during the search implementation process, the project team will be able to fully leverage the native functionality of SharePoint 2010.

2. Using Search

Search may be implemented as feature of a Web portal, or in the case of an enterprise search portal, it can be deployed as a stand-alone tool. In any event, SharePoint provides a familiar keyword search as is available on the Web. As a user, you can type in a word or phrase, press a button, and view results. Beyond using a search box, you may also experience search, contextually, without even knowing it. Search results Web Parts can be configured on portal pages with predefined queries. As you navigate to a page that has a search results Web Part preconfigured, you can view security trimmed links (search results) to relevant documents, people, and other information.

SharePoint 2010 search results contain several elements of information. Each result includes a URL link, a teaser (brief description of result), author name, date, and the size of document. If the desired search result is not immediately visible in the result set, there are refiners available to further drill and filter the results set. By default, refiners appear within a navigation panel on the left side of the search results page and provide a structured view of results, grouped by Result Type, Site, Author, and Modified Date. An example search results page is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. SharePoint automatically collapses duplicate results. When two nearly identical documents appear on a results page, only one will display. This result will contain a View duplicates link. By clicking the link, you may view all duplicates for this result.

Keywords

Keywords are the terms that a user enters in the search box to issue a search request. A keyword can actually be a simple term, which is a single word. For example, issuing a search on contract may yield a specific set of results. This is the most common way to search.

Keywords can also be issued as a phrase. A phrase includes two or more words separated by spaces and enclosed in quotation marks. If you don’t include the words in quotation marks, SharePoint will search for either the first term or the second term. For example, a search for statement of work (without quotation marks) would return all results with the word statement or work in them. On the other hand, a search for “statement of work” would only return results containing that exact phrase in full.

Property Filters

Property filters allow a user to reduce the result set based on criteria defined in metadata properties. Common properties that are leveraged for this type of query include content source, author, and file type.

To retrieve a result set filtered by location, users can use the site keyword, which lets you filter results to those from a specific URL address. For example, to request results from only https://inside.mycompany.com, you could issue a search query including the term, site:https//inside.mycompany.com. Here are some other examples:

Author

author:Scott

author:“Scott Jamison”

author:“DOMAIN\sjamison”

Scope

scope:Discussions

scope:“Healthcare Documents”

File extension

filetype:xlsx

filetype:docx

filetype:pdf

Prefix Matching

Prefix matching allows you to search using only a partial beginning of a word or phrase. For example, a search for “door*” would return documents containing doorway. Because this method of using an asterisk in a keyword search only works for prefixes, a search for “*way” would not yield doorway results. Prefixes do work with property queries. For example, author:mic would return documents authored by people with the first names beginning with Mic, including Michael, Michelle, Michaela, and Mickey.

Inclusions and Exclusions

SharePoint keyword syntax allows you to specifically include or exclude search results having a particular word or phrase. Included terms allow you specify that you require certain terms to be in the result set; this is denoted by a plus sign (+). For example, if you are searching for information about Nevada laws but only want items that include the phrase “speed limit,” you could issue a search for Nevada + “speed limit”. Similarly, you can exclude search results that contain a particular word or phrase using the minus sign (). (Be sure to put phrases in quotation marks so that SharePoint knows that the words need to be found together.)

Boolean Expressions

SharePoint 2010 supports the use of Boolean expressions such as AND and OR. If you are searching your personal site for a spaghetti sauce recipe you uploaded, you might search for tomato AND garlic AND oregano.

Numeric Values

When you are searching for numeric values, you may be interested in providing an operator to limit the result set. SharePoint does support various formats for crawled properties, such as text, integer, date and time, binary data, and Yes/No. Supported search operators on numeric properties include <, >, and =. If you are searching customer order documents in a library that has a numeric Order Amount Column, you might try Order Amount > 1000. This will return results that have a number greater than 1000 in the Order Amount Column. Keep in mind that Managed Properties must be created and mapped to Crawled Properties prior to a full crawl before you can search for values in a custom document library Column or custom site Column.

URL Searches

When a user submits a search, the search box Web Part routes the user to a corresponding search results page. Included in the URL redirection is the query information. You can actually reproduce any keyword search that is produced from a search box Web Part simply by encoding the query in a URL. This technique is used primarily for development purposes, but it also has some practical uses for end users. For example, if you wanted to e-mail a hyperlink to a colleague so that he could view a search result, you could send him the complete URL containing the encoded search query. Note that the results may be different for that user because of security trimming.

To build a URL that contains a search query in it, first identify the URL of the search results page. It typically follows the following format: http://<server>/SearchCenter/Pages/results.aspx. If that does not match your environment, work with your search administrator to determine the correct URL.

Next, you can append the various search parameters.

Entering k lets you specify the keyword, which can be a single word, phrase, or prefix. For example, to search for amaretto, you would issue a request of http://Portal/SearchCenter/Pages/results.aspx?k=amaretto.

Entering s lets you specify the search scope. You can specify multiple scopes if necessary. Here is an example: http://Portal/SearchCenter/Pages/results.aspx?k=stethoscope&s=HealthcareSites%2cMedicalJournals.

Alerts

Users can subscribe to search result sets. By default, search results pages contain action links called Alert Me and RSS. These action links allow the user to subscribe to the result set in using her preferred method. Figure 2 shows a subscription for a specific search term.

Figure 2. Alerts subscriptions can be configured for individuals or groups

Using Advanced Search

In a default Search Center site, you may click an advanced search link to bring you to a search page containing a more sophisticated search box. An advanced search box not only provides support for keywords, but also provides other options to specify a search query more granularly. Figure 3 shows an advanced search box.

Figure 3. The advanced search box can be configured to include custom property filters

Searching from Within Office

It is also possible to issue searches from within Microsoft Office applications. This assists with searching a company intranet, for example, for documents and other content without leaving the work you currently have open. To perform a search right from within Word, right-click a word and choose Look Up .... Office will then open the research pane, providing the option to look in a number of sources.

To search from Microsoft Word, you may need to add your SharePoint search as one of the search providers. To do this, you can begin by selecting the Research Options link at the bottom of the research pane. Next, click Add Services button and enter the URL of your intranet search Web service. The default name is http://<server>/_vti_bin/search.asmx. Microsoft Word should find your search service and present you with a confirmation. Click Install to add the service to the research pane.

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