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Improve SharePoint Foundation Search Tools for FREE?

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Many of my customers opt to use the ‘free’ version of SharePoint because it delivers everything they require for their collaboration platform, and let’s face it, the price is right.   Although one of the initial draws for upgrading to the SharePoint Server component is its robust search functionality.  Search is something many end-users utilize every day in a system, but the search included with SharePoint Foundation 2010 is a bit lacking.  Search Server Express 2010 integrates with SharePoint Foundation 2010 to provide search functionality similar to that of a full SharePoint Server.  The best part: it’s FREE!!

Here are a few of the features I think will grab customers’ attention when looking at this upgrade.

Suggested Queries from Search Center:

Many of us have seen this with Google and other search engines out on the web, but now SharePoint is able to deliver this with Search Server Express.  Essentially, as the end-user begins to type, SharePoint will begin to provide suggestions as to what the user could be searching for.

Enhance Search Results Pages:

This includes many features included with the screen shot below.  The center top box has Best Bets which are indicated by the stars.  SharePoint has a strong suggestion that this is what you are searching for and places it at the top of the screen.  The second center box is displaying a Brief Summary of what is contained in the document or item.  This allowss user to get an idea of what they are opening before they do so.  The left hand box is shows the Quick Filtering that can be completed with the search results.  Users are able to quickly narrow down the search results on suggested criteria.  The Related Searches box in the top right hand corner uses analytics of searches other users have made that are similar to the current search.  Finally, near the bottom right of the page are Bing Search Results which bring in suggestions that are made by your favorite internet search engine.   These internet search results can be customized to bring in various sites to display their results.

Integrate Multiple Content Sources:

Not only can Search Server Express bring search results from your SharePoint system,  it can also crawl internet facing sites, exchange public folders and file shares.  Some of the bonuses  include instant search results for the areas and automatic security trimming.  Bringing in external content sources can impact the performance and capacity requirements of the search system, so new content sources should be carefully evaluated before implementing.

Search Query Reporting:

Webmasters typically monitor searching within their sites to improve how people find things and determine how to make the system more effective for their visitors.  Why should SharePoint be any different?  Search Server Express provides query analytics to allow site administrators to view who is searching on what and how often it is happening.  This can be a very effective tool in making end-users’  lives easier.

To find out more information, visit Microsoft’s Search Server Express Website A comparison chart between the free version and the server version is viewable here.  If you are currently not running SharePoint Foundation 2010, but are still on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (free SharePoint 2007 version), there are still some options for you.  Search Server Express 2008 is compatible with 2007 versions of SharePoint and 32-bit systems.  More details can be found here. Thank you for reading.

By:  Jason McKinney, RSM – Microsoft SharePoint Professional – Minnesota, Iowa, New Jersey, and New York

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One question

  1. Raymond says:

    Is it possible to get the query results, filters, and other data outside the sharepoint foundation?

    [Reply]

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