When it comes to set up / configure / enhance search, there is no silver bullet action plan that works for everyone. However, there is a set of search components that always can be considered to be configured correctly.
As always, everything connects to everything else. This is the reason why I’ve created this infographic about SharePoint’s search components and their relationships.
From the left to the right you can find:
- Source systems: Those are the data sources: SharePoint, file shares, databases, CRM systems, Salesforce, SAP, etc.
- Content sources: They represent the source systems by defining the connection to them from SharePoint, as well as the crawl schedule (see my blog post about how to organize content sources)
- Indexing: The process of crawling, content processing, indexing is a complex one. Hence, a set of components gathers the content from the source systems through the connection defined by the content source, processes the content, then stores it in the search index.
Search Index: The “registry” of documents, items, database entries and other content pieces. Therefore, it is the base for all search functions. Imagine this as the book catalog in a library, which helps us and librarians to find a book by our wish or need.
The Search Index can be local, where we have control on what is stored in, or it can be remote, which is usually controlled by someone else and which we can be used via federation.
- Result Source: A subset of the items stored in a search index. A result source can be used to provide pre-filtered results from, or create search verticals (see my previous post on how to create search sites and pages).
- Query Rule: Can be used to modify how the queries are processed. By conditions and actions, we can promote results (a.k.a. “best bets” in the old times), to boost results, as well as to modify the ranking, with sorting the results by various (sortable) managed properties, using a different ranking model, or using XRANK expressions.
- Result Type: As you might have already recognized if you use SharePoint or Office 365 Search, different types of results can be displayed in different ways. It is Result Types’ responsibility to define this behavior.
- Result Set: This web part displays the search results, embedded on a search page or any other type of page in SharePoint. How the results are displayed here is defined by Result Types (see above) and/or Display Templates (see below).
- Result Block: When there’s any results boosted by query rules (see above), they are displayed in a separate Result Block. How the results are displayed here is defined by Result Types (see above) and Display Templates (see below).
- Hover Panel: A new panel of additional information and document preview (if available) which is displayed when the user hovers the mouse over a search result in the result set or result block. This panel can be used to display custom information and actions as well. What is displayed on the hover panel and how, is defined by Display Templates (see below).
- Refinement Panel: This panel is responsible to provide faceted search experience, represented as a configurable web part. How the refiners are displayed is described by Display Templates (see below).
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