SharePoint Cloud vs On-Premise: Customizing Search

Today, as businesses start deciding to move to the cloud, people need to understand that some features will not be available with the cloud solution.  While the cloud has emerged as a viable solution, many cloud solutions which started as on-premise solutions lack the number of features that existed in the original solution.

Today I actually ran into one of those situations while working with a client of ours.  We had a workflow that contained an InfoPath form as well as a “search web part” on the page. The goal was to allow a user to search the workflows, and if there was a match those results would come up in the search result web part.  We found during testing that we could limit our search results by the workflow list page, but that those result items would link back to the list page, which wasn’t the desired result. We researched and found that with an on-premise solution, we could create a search scope based on a content type that would link back to the correct page. However, we found that since the cloud version of SharePoint doesn’t give you access to central admin, which is where you would add a content type to be used in a search scope, it couldn’t be done in the cloud.  We almost resigned to just live with the results containing the links to the list page and to the workflow page until I found an article by Malcolm ‘Max’ DeRungs about using “Property Restriction Keywords”. Using keywords in the “Append Text to Query” property of the search core results web part, you can control the results of your query more and fill a gap that existed with the move to a cloud based solution.

“Property Restriction Keywords” are properties that are part of the search crawl and metadata of the indexed items. For the purpose of our search, we wanted to only find files with a file extension of xml. We did this by adding “filetype:xml” to the “Append Text to Query” property of the search results web part. If you break down “filetype:xml” statement there are two parts. The first part “filetype” is a managed crawled property. The second part “xml” is the type of file that we want to display. One important thing about entering these types of queries is not to include spaces. For example, if we changed our filter to be this “filetype :xml” we would get content containing the items “filetype” and “xml” which is obviously not what we want. Microsoft has an example of how to use these “Managed and Crawled Properties”. For more info, take a look at this overview of all the available “Managed and Crawled Properties in SharePoint 2013.

As technology moves forward with cloud solutions two things are happening. The release cycle for cloud based solutions is much smaller so companies are releasing new versions of their cloud solutions more frequently, which is allowing them to slowly catch up to their on-premise counter parts.  Now developers are being forced to think of more creative solutions to deal with the limitations of cloud based solutions until the differences have been diminished like the example above.

April 8, 2013
  • Janaka

    Really great article. Moving On-Premises to Cloud is also a challenging step to SharePoint Developers as well.