2010 Review – Search

Seek and you shall find…

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is greatly improved it’s capabilities in the are of search with this new release.    I’ll cover a few of my favorite features, but make sure you have someone on staff (or a great partner) who’s ready to dive DEEP into this, if you want to take full advantage.

What’s New in Search?

There’s so much to tell!  Let’s start with the “Big Deals” (in my opinion, anyway).   Here are the features and/or enhancements that I think are most significant with this new release:

  1. Federated Search – Search that’s integrated with multiple internal and/or external sources.
  2. FAST Search Server for SharePoint – New search engine that’s just flat-out COOL!
  3. Refinement Panels – Narrow down your search results without wading through junk!
  4. People Search – Find someone – anyone!  By name, skill-set, department, you call it.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these…

Federated Search

Federated search allows you to aggregate content sources from all over your enterprise and beyond.  Integrate your SharePoint Server Search with Google (dare I say it), or Bing (ah, that’s better!), as well as People Search, Exchange and other Windows data across your enterprise.

Now, you truly have a one-stop-shop that provides a robust, rich, enterprise-wide search experience.   Trust me, this stuff rocks!!

FAST Search Server for SharePoint 2010

FAST is a new add-on, included with the Enterprise license, that is a high-speed collision between SharePoint’s search simplicity and FASTS’ robust and powerful results engine.

If Microsoft ever NAILED anything with regards to SharePoint in the past, this is it!   BAM!!!

What excites me about FAST?  Well…”What doesn’t?” is the better question.   FAST gives us a very robust end-user experience.  We mention using SharePoint as a productivity portal time and time, again.  Microsoft is really enabling us with FAST.

FAST provides us with these cool features that I like:

  • Tagging – Tags people, places, skills, companies, and much more!
  • Lingo” – FAST learns your special “lingo” and helps create a dictionary of your company-specific jargon.  These words eventually become valid keywords for search.
  • Multi-Dimensional Content – Delivers search results by author, date, time, type, subject and much more.
  • Tunable Ranking – Create best bets and/or tweak results based on subject, click-through-rate, keyword relevance, authors, customers, and more.  It’s totally customizable.
  • Contextual Preview – Now, you can have  thumbnail preview of documents that appear in your search result, along with “teaser” text, like Bing (and Google).   What’s more,  is with PowerPoint, you can scroll through the slide deck without opening it, to see if it’s the deck you were looking for!   SWEET!

There’s much more to brag about here, but I’ll leave that up to Microsoft for now.  We may take up this topic a little more in the future (after I’ve had time to get my hands dirty with it).

Refinement Panels

Refinement Panels are also a cool new feature.  Basically, when your search results come back, you’ll see the refinement panels on the left.   You can use them to refine your search by various Meta-data categories, like Author, Location, type, etc.

Combine this with FAST and you can use graphical refinements, like interactive Pie Charts and Bar Charts.  You can click pie slices (for example) and further narrow your search results to that topic or category.  Very cool!

People Search

People Search is not new to SharePoint 2010, however it has been greatly improved.  You can now use People Search to search for someone by various criteria, including

  • People names – Search for “John Doe” and find all people with any combination thereof.
  • Job Titles – Look for someone with a specific title.  Want that promotion?  Look up the VP of Marketing and go for it!
  • Skills they may have – Looking to hire from within?  Need someone to help you with a specific task?  Find the right person for the job with this feature.
  • Colleagues you may have in common – Six degrees of separation.  Someone either knows or has worked with someone else.  Find out your connections and get in touch!
  • Nicknames they may go by – This is cool. You can search on “Thomas Jones”, for example, and it will find “Tom”, “Tommy”, “Thom”, “Thomas”, “TJ”, “Jonesy” and any other nickname they may go by.
  • Phonetic name matching – You can search for “Susan” and find “Susan”, “Suzan”, “Suzanne”, or “Susanne”.   Don’t worry about spelling those tough names in pinch!  (But you better get them right when it counts!)
  • Social distance – Search for the nearest (or farthest) person in proximity to you, with a specific skill, or who authored an article on a particular topic.
  • And much more!!!

I know this was a lot for a blog, but it’s been a few days, so I though I’d make it a good one!   Enjoy!!!

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