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Managing the Search Experience in Microsoft SharePoint 2010

Creating and Customizing Search Centers

The location and number of search centers to use are major decisions in your enterprise search design. You might choose to centralize all searches at a single location, or an organization might choose to customize and control search with local search centers. With either scenario, these customizations will be managed at the site collection level using the resources provided by at the application level.

SharePoint Server 2010 offers three search center site templates in the Enterprise tab, as shown in Figure 9-40:

  • Enterprise Search Center. This was named Search Center With Tabs in the previous version. This publishing site requires the Publishing Infrastructure feature to be activated for the site collection, but it does not require that its parent be a publishing site.

  • Basic Search Center. This template is appropriately named because it offers only three basic search pages and is more difficult to use if you want to add search pages.

  • FAST Search Center. This template is available even without FAST for SharePoint installed, but it requires a FAST search server for functionality. We will not cover this search center or its Web parts in this book.

Figure 9-40

Figure 9-40 Search Center template selections.

Customizing the Enterprise Search Center

As a publishing site, the Enterprise Search Center is designed for customization for three significant reasons:

  • All three search pages templates provided within the UI are page layout templates for the publishing process that are based on the Welcome page content type.

  • All pages are stored in a publishing Pages library with full publishing processes, approvals, and workflows available.

  • Within the page layouts of the search and results pages is a special field control, which organizes links to other search pages within customizable tabs. Advanced Search pages do not have a tab field control. The link information used by the tabs field control is stored in one of two link lists:

    Tabs in Search Pages

    Tabs in Search Results Pages

The three search pages of the Basic Search Center (default, advanced, and results) are Web part pages designed like the publishing templates, but there is no provision for creating additional pages based on that design.

Creating New Search Pages

From any page of the Enterprise Search Center, you can create a new search page from the Site Actions menu. However, do not select New Page because this creates a new page without presenting options to select a template. Follow these steps:

  1. Select More Options, which opens the Create page. The presentation of this page varies greatly depending on whether you have Microsoft SilverLight installed.

  2. Select Publishing Page to open the Create Page page shown in Figure 9-41.

  3. Enter the appropriate information in the Title, Description, and URL Name text boxes.

  4. Select the appropriate page template.

  5. Click the Create button.

    Figure 9-41

    Figure 9-41 The Create Page page.

Plan your pages carefully. You will not always need a set of three pages for each customization. For instance, a single Search Box (query) page can contain multiple search boxes, each pointing to a unique Search Results page or People search results page. All search box Web parts do not need to have a corresponding Advanced Search page.

Creating New Tabs

In the edit page mode, the Tabs field control exposes links to management pages for adding new tab links or editing existing tab links, as shown in Figure 9-42. In this example, a custom tab has been added for a search page that returns only contracts in the result set.

Figure 9-42

Figure 9-42 Tab field control.

Clicking Edit Tabs opens the Tabs In Search Pages list shown in Figure 9-43, from which the control builds the tabs. The results pages also have a tab control that uses another list, named Tabs In Search Results. These lists can also be accessed from View All Site Content.

Figure 9-43

Figure 9-43 Tabs In Search Pages list page.

Clicking the Add New Item link or Add New Tab from the control on the page opens the page shown in Figure 9-44.

Figure 9-44

Figure 9-44 New Item page for the Tabs In Search Pages list.

The Tab Name field should be self-explanatory to users. The Page field can point to an existing or future custom page. The Tooltip field should briefly explain the purpose of the custom page.

After the custom set of search pages and tabs are created, the new query page can be accessed from its custom tab. The query Web part can then point to the appropriate custom results page, and the Advanced query link can point to the appropriate custom advanced query page.

When a query opens one results page, it will be automatically passed to the results page opened by another tab on the results page.

This combination of UI tools for creating custom search pages plus the control that presents a series of tabs within the pages presents a search center that can be quickly and easily customized for multiple search business needs.

Configuring Custom Page Access

Although we have not yet discussed them all, here are some of the ways that these custom pages can be accessed:

  • Site collections can be configured to use a custom set of search pages, even those located elsewhere.

  • Scopes, both local and shared, can be configured for a specific results page.

  • Query Web parts can be configured to use a specific results page.

  • More Results links can point to custom results pages.

  • Advanced Search links can point to custom advanced search pages.

  • Links placed anywhere within your pages or link lists can point to custom query pages.

  • Favorite links in Internet Explorer can be prepopulated with links to custom query pages using Active Directory group policies.

  • Internet Explorer and Desktop Search can be configured to use custom query pages.

  • Office applications can be configured to use search pages by URL.