Friday, August 19, 2011

SharePoint 2010 Search–An FAQ

Jeremy Williams, Sr. Director, Modern Workplace

A little while back I had a conversation with one of my coworkers on SharePoint Search…  After a few minutes, it became quite clear that (no offense to Microsoft) tracking search features and capabilities between various SharePoint licensed versions is tricky!  As such, my post today will (start) an FAQ on SharePoint 2010 Search…This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, I (rather) intend for this list to grow over time with additional questions that come up about search with the various projects we’re involved on. 

Also, Microsoft has constructed a good primer on search features as well, it can be downloaded here:

Alright, enough of my pedantic-introductions, on to the questions!

What does it take for SP2010 to have term store meta data tags as facets?

The result set to have similar metadata tags; facets are auto-selected by SharePoint so I’m hesitant to guarantee that a particular metadata tag will appear; I always spin it that the facets (refinement panel) will have tag-values that are relevant to the entirety of the site.  [Don’t worry, more to come on this soon]

Do I need a search center?

Only if you want to use any scopes that aren’t the default contextual scopes (This Site, This List, This Library)…Short answer: any enterprise-grade deployment should be using a Search Center unless there’s extenuating circumstances around not using one.  The standard out of the box search results page is really only good for searching one site collection.

Can you manipulate the facets if you want to?

Not as easily w/SharePoint Search, you’d need FAST to do that easily; you can hard-code some of the refinement panel, but you’d need to customize that refinement panel web part (hence, search center) and it’s all going to be XML-based and reliant upon managed properties being set up for the correct taxonomy fields.  Here’s a resource on doing that, [And if you need help with this, feel free to ask in our contact us form. ]

Is there a way to create a search scope for “search all sites” from any page on the site without a search center

Nope – That would be considered a custom search scope, and requires the use of a Search Center.  The screenshot below illustrates the correlation between the use of search scopes and a Search Center.


How do we add items from a list as searchable and facets?

List items are searchable by default; there are additional controls on a list to prevent it from showing up in search (disabled by default).  Additionally, you can enable SharePoint to crawl complex URLs if you need that level of searching [9 times out of 10, you won’t need complex URLs turned on if you’re crawling SharePoint as a SharePoint-source (vs. crawling as a web site)]

Do we need search center for advanced search


Can we change what information is returned on the search results (i.e. instead of author return custom field content owner, or just remove the field)

Absolutely, you will need to customize the XSLT for that particular results page, which will require a search center. 

Is there a way to have sorting on search results?

You get two sort methods out of the box with SharePoint 2010; FAST allows for additional sorting options.  Sorts are somewhat tricky given how SharePoint’s search algorithm works…So if you search for ‘test’, the highest hitting results are returned very quickly (according to the sort), that is built into the query engine to optimize results as per the sort; the trick is that (at that point in time) search doesn’t actually know the full corpus of results, it only knows the ‘best’.  Search is a fickle-beast; just because something seems ‘simple’ in concept, there’s so many back-end optimizations going on that the implementation of it may not be easy.  If heavy sorting of results is important, I highly recommend you check out FAST search; it' will help you take your Enterprise Search experience to the next level.


That’s all the FAQs I can get through for today; be sure to check back soon for new FAQs and some updates.