This was the last session I attended on day 1 of the conference. The presenter started with an over view of how Search within the SharePoint 2013 environment has found some vast improvements with the incorporation of FAST search within all version of SharePoint. Many organizations did not use FAST in the SharePoint 2010 environment.
Many of the cosmetic features that FAST gave to the search results page included Visual Best Bets, preview image of documents, and PowerPoint click through. Now all of those features are included and have been expanded including Visual Refiners and Hover Panels to name the more noticeable features.
From a backend point of view organizations can use SharePoint 2013 and crawl Exchange 2013 for eDiscovery helping to consolidate how they are auditing and reporting. On the administration side there are a couple of new and change components. SharePoint 2013 has added continuous crawl to the already full or incremental crawls. This will allow those situations when information needs to be available within Search very quickly. The SharePoint 2013 search index is stored on the web front end and partitions can be added to quickly expand search. They have also changed the architecture of the index, moving from rows/columns to partitions and replicas. This makes it more efficient to store and replicating index content. The presenter also discussed the overall process with indexing. As an index starts, information is stored within memory in smaller sections, as these smaller sections are merged together and moved to the hard drive.
He then went to to talk about the capability of adding a custom columns into the refinement panel. For the most part these steps are similar to SharePoint 2010 however the Refinement Panel Web Part is much easier to configure to display the custom columns. The steps include:
- Create a custom columns in a list
- Crawler will need to find the new columns so implement an incremental crawl
- Setup mapping in Search Schema (change was called Metadata Properties in SharePoint 2010)
- Create a mapping to the new column and be sure to check the Refiner checkbox to include in the Refinement Panel
- Need to crawl for the new mapping by doing a full crawl
- Go to the Search Results page and edit the Refinement Panel web part
Another major change within Search is around Key Words. These are now called Query Rules and they are extremely powerful. By using an “action” term you can generate business rules. For example by using the action terms “slides” or “decks” this will equate to a PowerPoint slide deck. The search will display PowerPoint slide decks in the results. This feature can be found within the Search Service Application, or Site Collection Administration, or even at the Site level.
Another significant change within SharePoint 2013 and search is the inclusion of Web Analytics. This feature is now called analytics processing and includes Analytics Reporting and can learn as SharePoint is used more and more. Along with this is the inclusion of Recommendation Processing that displays recommendations of related information based on physical clicks into pages.
All an all I was very impressed with the fact that Microsoft took the plunge and incorporated FAST into all of the platform. I can see how this can benefit any organization that wants to be able to use search to help with any of the SharePoint pillars: Intranet, Extranet, or Internet and not have to spend a lot on licenses.