What's new in enterprise search (SharePoint Server 2010)
Published: May 12, 2010
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 offers all of the enterprise search features and functionality that are in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and provides many new enterprise search capabilities. This article summarizes the new enterprise search features and functionality in SharePoint Server 2010. With these new capabilities, search administrators can configure an optimal, secure search infrastructure that enables end users to find information in the enterprise quickly and efficiently.
In this article:
New features and functionality for end users
For end users, SharePoint Server 2010 provides each of the following:
New search query capabilities
SharePoint Server 2010 enables end users to create and run more effective search queries. It also enables users to search the enterprise from the Windows 7 desktop.
Boolean query syntax for free-text queries and for property queries
SharePoint Server 2010 supports use of the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT in search queries. For example, a user can execute a query such as the following:
("SharePoint Search" OR "Live Search") AND (title:"Keyword Syntax" OR title:"Query Syntax")
Prefix matching for search keywords and document properties
Search queries can use the * character as a wildcard at the end of a text string. For example, the search query "micro*" would find documents that contain "Microsoft" or "microchip," and the query "author:bi*" would find documents that contain "Bill" or "Bing." Therefore, the query "micro* author:bi*" would find documents that contain both "Microsoft" and "Bill Gates."
Suggestions while typing search queries
As a user types keywords in the Search box, the Search Center provides suggestions to help complete the query. These suggestions are based on past queries from other users.
Suggestions after users run queries
The Search Center provides improved "did you mean" suggestions in case keywords in a search query appear not to be what the user intended. In addition, when the search system returns results for a query, the Search Center provides suggestions for related searches.
Federated search connectors for searching the enterprise from Windows 7
After SharePoint Server 2010 returns results for a search query, a Windows 7 user can create a federated search connector shortcut for that search scope in Windows Explorer. This enables the user to search that scope at any time from Windows 7. The search results and associated metadata are displayed in Windows Explorer, where the user can take advantage of Windows features such as file preview and drag-and-drop. For any given search query, the search results that are displayed in Windows 7 are exactly the same as those that are displayed in the Search Core Results Web Part when the search is conducted directly in SharePoint Server 2010.
Improvements for search results
SharePoint Server 2010 provides many improvements for getting and viewing search results.
The search results page includes a refinement panel, which provides a summary of search results and enables users to quickly browse and understand the results. For example, for a particular search query, the summary in the refinement panel might show that there are many Web pages in the search results and many documents by a particular author. A summary might also indicate that there are primarily Microsoft Word documents in the top 50 search results, followed by a particular number of Microsoft Excel documents.
The refinement panel also enables users to filter results — for example by kind of content (document, spreadsheet, presentation, Web page, and so on), content location (such as SharePoint sites), content author, or date last modified. A user can also filter by category based on managed properties and enterprise content management (ECM) taxonomy nodes that an administrator configures.
People search enables users to find other people in the organization not only by name, but also by many other categories, such as department, job title, projects, expertise, and location.
Improved relevance in people search results
Results relevance for people search is improved, especially for searches on names and expertise.
To test the people search feature, users sometimes search for themselves. The search system recognizes this as a "self search" and displays related metadata. The metadata can include information such as the number of times the My Site profile was viewed and the terms that other people typed that returned the user’s name. This can encourage users to add information to their profile pages to help other users when they search. As users update their My Site profiles, other users can more easily find them in subsequent searches. This increases productivity by helping to connect people who have common business interests and responsibilities.
Phonetic name matching and nickname matching
Users can search for a person in the organization by name without knowing the exact spelling of the name. For example, the search query "John Steal" could yield "John Steele" in the search results; results for the search query "Jeff" include names that contain "Geoff." In addition, nickname matching makes it possible for a search query for "Bill" to yield results that include "William."
Enhancements for relevance of search results
SharePoint Server 2010 provides improvements to increase the relevance and usefulness of search results, such as the following:
Ranking based on search results history
If a document in a search results set was visited from a search results page much more often than other documents, the document is promoted in the ranking of search results.
Relevance based on inferred metadata
Following a crawl, document metadata is parsed as part of the indexing process. In some cases, the search system can also infer metadata from the content of a document. This can be helpful when a document’s explicit metadata is missing or incorrect. For example, the template of a Microsoft PowerPoint document might not specify an author, but the search system might infer the author from a phrase in the document such as "By John Doe."
New features and functionality for administrators
SharePoint Server 2010 includes new ways for administrators to help provide the most benefits for end users who are searching for information.
Improved administrative interface
SharePoint Server 2010 has the new Central Administration interface that was first available for organizations that deployed Office SharePoint Server 2007 and then installed the Infrastructure Update for Microsoft Office Servers. This new interface centralizes the location for performing administrative tasks. With SharePoint Server 2010, administrators have an interface that provides the following advantages:
A single starting point for all farm-wide administration tasks, including search administration. The most common search tasks are highlighted.
A central location where farm administrators and search administrators can monitor server status and activity.
Farm Configuration Wizard
The Farm Configuration Wizard runs automatically after a Server Farm installation finishes. This wizard helps simplify deployment of small farms. It provides the option to automate much of the initial configuration process with default settings. For example, when you use the Farm Configuration Wizard to deploy the first server in a farm, the wizard automatically creates a fully functional search system on that server, which includes:
A search topology that can support an index of up to 100 million crawled documents.
A Search Center from which users can issue queries. This Search Center is created automatically if the person installing the product selects this option in the wizard.
The search system can crawl local SharePoint sites (sites in the server farm) immediately after the Farm Configuration Wizard finishes running.
Search service administration independent of other shared services
In Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, the Office SharePoint Server Search service was bundled with other shared services (such as Excel Calculation Services) in the Shared Services Provider (SSP). In that architecture, you could not create a new Search service without creating a new SSP. In contrast, in SharePoint Server 2010, you can create and manage Search service applications independently of one another and independently of other service applications.
Expanded support for automating administrative tasks
You can automate many search administration tasks by using Windows PowerShell 2.0 scripts. For example, you can use Windows PowerShell 2.0 scripts to manage content sources and search system topology.
Increased performance, capacity, and reliability
SharePoint Server provides many new ways to configure and optimize a search solution for better performance, capacity, and reliability.
Scalability for increased crawling capability
You can increase the number of crawl components to do the following:
Increase crawl frequency and volume, which helps the search system to provide more comprehensive and up-to-date results.
Increase performance by distributing the crawl load.
Provide redundancy if a particular server fails.
Index partitioning enables subsecond latency over an index that contains up to 100 million items, depending on the item sizes and types and other factors.
Scalability for increased throughput and reduced latency
You can increase the number of query components to do the following:
Increase query throughput — that is, increase the number of queries that the search system can handle at a time.
Reduce query latency — that is, reduce the amount of time it takes to retrieve search results.
Provide failover capability for query components.
Topology management during normal operations
You can tune the existing search topology during regular farm operations while search functionality remains available to users. For example, during usual operations, you can deploy additional index partitions and query components to accommodate changing conditions.
SharePoint Server 2010 provides new capabilities for monitoring farm operations and customizing reports.
Health and performance monitoring
Health and performance monitoring features enable an administrator to monitor search operations in the farm. This can be especially helpful for monitoring crawl status and query performance.
SharePoint Server 2010 includes a health analysis tool that you can use to automatically check for potential configuration, performance, and usage problems. Search administrators can configure specific health reporting jobs to do the following:
Run on a predefined schedule.
Alert an administrator when problems are found.
Formulate reports that can be used for performance monitoring, capacity planning, and troubleshooting.
You can customize reports that help you analyze search system operations and tune the search system to provide the best results for search queries. For example, reports can include information about what terms are used most frequently in queries or how many queries are issued during certain time periods. Information about peak query times can help you decide about server farm topology and about best times to crawl.
Searches of diverse content by crawling or federating
SharePoint Server 2010 can search content in repositories other than SharePoint sites by crawling or federating. For example, the search system can do the following:
Crawl content in repositories such as file shares, Exchange public folders, and Lotus Notes.
Use federation for access to search results that are gathered by other crawlers or search engines. An administrator might federate search results from www.bing.com or from a geographically distributed internal location, for example.