SharePoint 2010 – Opening a closed Web part

A while back I wrote a post talking about how to open a closed Web part.  Now, before I get too far into this post I should say I’m not a fan of closing Web parts.  My general feeling is that you shouldn’t close Web parts – ever! 

“But John what if I want to save my settings for a Web part? Closing is good for that?” 

Fair question.  However, I still say don’t close Web parts.  If you need to save your settings rather than close it, export the Web part and save it off somewhere.  Or do something to that effect.  Then once you’ve done that delete the Web part from the page.  The reason I take such a strong stance on this topic is that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve brought up the Web part maintenance page for a client and seen 10, 15, or more closed Web parts sitting on the page.  That’s not a good thing.  They might be closed but they are still impacting the page they are sitting on and putting an unnecessary burden on the page.  Many times causing performance issues.  Let me put it another way, if the ability to close Web parts suddenly disappeared from the product I wouldn’t even notice – my brain has blocked the fact it’s even there.

image

Despite my mental block on the functionality – the reality is people close Web parts.  They do it all the time and they end up with so many closed Web parts on the page because they don’t know how to open them. 

How do you do it?

SharePoint 2010 makes it much easier to add closed Web parts.  But to see it, you’ve got to actually close a Web part <shudder> Once you’ve done that you’ll notice when you try to add a Web part to the page you’ll see a new heading called Closed Web Parts.  Simply drag the Web part back onto the page and you are in business.  Much easier than the SharePoint 2007 way!  But just because it’s easier doesn’t mean you should do it! 

image

SharePoint 2010 Search New Query Syntax

One of the most common complaints about SharePoint search in MOSS 2007 was the inability to use Wildcards and Boolean Operators when performing search queries.  Both of these capabilities were supported by the search API but required either custom code or 3rd Party Search Utilities to take advantage of this. 

The good news is that SharePoint 2010 now supports both Wildcards and Boolean Operators when performing search queries!  What does this mean? 

Wildcards

Let’s start with the Wildcards.  It means that now you can enter a query like this directly into the search box:

share*

This would return results that had keywords that started with “share” – it is very useful when you don’t know the exact spelling of something or you couldn’t remember the exact name of a keyword.  Also, with the new addition of the refinement panel you could start off with a very broad wildcard search and then refine your results to quickly get exactly the results you are looking for. Wildcard searches can be used in property searches as well – the example above is very simplistic but you could combine terms or property searches as needed.  For example this search would search on the Author Metadata property and return all results that started with John:

Author:John*

Boolean Operators

SharePoint 2010 Search now also supports Boolean Operators.  This means that you can now use things like “AND”, “OR”, parenthesis, =, >, <, <=, >= 

Here’s an example of the type of query you could run using the new syntax:

(“SharePoint Search” OR “Bing”) AND (title:”Keyword syntax” OR title:”Query Syntax”)

Boolean Operators have been around for a while but are usually only used by search power users. While wildcard searches allow users to do very broad searches, Boolean Operators allow users to do very specific searches so they can quickly find the results they are looking for that meet their search criteria.

Summary

With SharePoint 2007 the options for performing broad or specific searches were limited – although users could use the Advanced Search box it was confusing to many users.  This new syntax provides users with more options for finding content more quickly and efficiently.

Another option would be to use a technique I’d blogged about almost two years ago of using Javascript to build advanced searches.  This technique still applies but now you’ve got even more options available to create your search solutions!

SharePoint Search Center uses minimal.master – and why you should care about that!

Loyal reader of this blog may have noticed that I recently wrote about some changes to search in SharePoint 2010 – specifically about some subtle changes in philosophy.  The main point of this blog post is to point out another one of those changes, explain why it’s a good thing, and then highlight some ways that users familiar with MOSS 2007 might get tripped up. 

So what’s this new philosophical change? Search is very important to almost every organization that has SharePoint installed. With SharePoint 2010 the idea is that rather than having a search center for every site collection (which was how MOSS 2007 did things), it makes more sense to have a common search center that all site collections use.  For organizations that have more robust search requirements they often customize their search centers and rather than recreate this custom search experience for every site collection it would make more sense to have a single common search center. 

If you’ve ever run a search in SP2010 you’ll know that there’s a lot of information being returned on the search results page that takes up a lot of space on the page.  There’s also the powerful new capabilities of FAST Search for SharePoint which provide even more options for search – and it’s results can take up a ton of space on the screen.  The point I’m getting at here is that in order to facilitate all of the powerful features of SharePoint Search and FAST (or provide more room for custom search solutions) it was necessary to use a Master Page that allowed for more room.  This is why the SharePoint Search Centers (Basic, Enterprise, and FAST) all use minimal.master.

Why you should care about the search centers using minimal.master

You should care because of the following reasons which I think almost everyone will run into at one point or another:

1) Minimal.master has no navigation. Let’s pretend your user goes and runs a search gets some search results and then wants to jump back to the root site – can’t do it with the out of the box minimal.master applied.  The only way to do it is to modify the URL.

2) Applying most other master pages to the search center will make your search center not work so well. This is probably most easily described with pictures.  Here’s your regular old run of the mill search center – nothing too exciting here:

image

Now let’s do what so many companies do.  We’ve created a site collection and then created a search center underneath (or maybe just created a publishing portal which already has a search center created).  We’ve got a corporate brand, so let’s make sure to apply our custom master page to all subsites.  In this case I’m going to demonstrate the point by simply using nightandday.master:

image

Notice anything?  Where’s the search box?  It’s actually hiding:

image

If you look at the code for the search center you’ll notice that the control for the search box actually lives in the breadcrumb placeholder.  This works just fine when minimal.master is applied, but if you try to apply any of the other out of the box master pages – or even your own custom master page simply by clicking the “apply to all subsites” box you could end up wondering how you broke your search center.  I did when I first ran into this while presenting about branding and then later presenting about search.  I kind of dismissed the issue as being some user error but later on I made this happen again and dug deeper and got to the root of the problem.

The lesson here is that if you want to apply custom branding to your search center you are most likely going to either just add a theme to the site or create a new master page that accounts for this – either by creating a custom minimal.master or by moving the control out of the breadcrumb (which works just fine).  If you were to choose to create your own minimal.master it would be possible to add navigation as well to make it easier for users to get around.

The new search features in SP2010 are awesome.  I’m very excited about them. But as I’ve mentioned in my other post there are some subtle differences from the way the search centers in MOSS 2007 worked that are easy to address but can be a little tricky if you don’t know what you are looking for.

SharePoint 2010 fun fact: Did you know both the Publishing Portal and Enterprise Wiki site definitions use the Lockdown Feature?

I was going about my SharePointing for the day and Randy Drisgill hits me up on IM and asks me if the Enterprise Wiki has the Lockdown Feature enabled.  Honestly, I hadn’t ever really thought about it much but I thought I’d humor him and give it a try.  So I opened up the site definitions (onet.xml) for both the Publishing Portal and Enterprise Wiki.  Much to my surprise – what did I see?

<!– ViewFormPagesLockDown –>
<Feature ID="7C637B23-06C4-472d-9A9A-7C175762C5C4" />

To make sure I wasn’t seeing something I tried to go activate the lockdown feature on sites created from both templates.  Here’s what that looked like:

image

What does this mean?  Well for starters it means that right out of the box both the Publishing Portal and Enterprise Wiki are locked down to prevent anonymous users from poking their noses into places where they probably shouldn’t.  With MOSS 2007 there were a few quirks anonymous users might run into if the lockdown feature was enabled – it usually occurred in collaboration type scenarios.  I haven’t yet been able to identify where this might cause issues or if at all.  If you do happen to run into anything please feel free to add it to the comments or contact me and I’ll be sure to update this post.

SP2010: Where’s my search center?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been heads down doing a lot of “stuff” – a large portion of that stuff was dedicated to working with SharePoint 2010 search.  It didn’t take long for me to notice that there’s been some fundamental changes to things. I’m not saying this as a negative – in fact I think there’s a lot of positives here but SharePoint 2010 takes a slightly different approach to some search basics. I’ve dealt with users long enough to know that small changes can cause some confusion so I hope to clarify things with this post.

Let’s start off with the title of this post – Where’s my search center? Great question!  For those of you might not know what I’m referring to, go try to create a new site collection based on one of the publishing site templates – either Enterprise Wiki or Publishing Portal.  By any chance do you happen to see a search center?  Probably not.  Users of MOSS 2007 might remember that search centers used to be automatically created as part of the publishing site templates before. 

To clarify, if you are using a Publishing Portal – don’t worry.  Your search center is there already. Go check View All Site Content and look at the subsites if you don’t believe me.  The problem in this case is that the default search scope is set to only search This Site.  If you run a search you’ll notice that you can change the scope from the results page.  To avoid having to do this and have the search box run the All Sites scope you can do the following:

Setting up your Publishing Portal to use the All Sites Scope by default

1. From the top level site in your site collection click Site Actions > Site Settings then go to the Search settings link from under the Site Collection Administration section.

2. Change the option in the section section for Site Collection Search Dropdown Mode to “Do not show scopes dropdown, and default to target results page.”  Press Ok.  VOILA!  Just like MOSS 2007!

Manually setting up SharePoint 2010 Search on your site

Let’s pretend you’ve got the Enterprise Wiki or possibly another template.  They actually don’t have the Search Center created for you – what now?  You’d just have to follow these simple steps:

1.  Create a new subsite with one of the search templates.

2. Once the site has been created, go back to the site settings page on the top level site in the site collection.  Assuming you are logged in as a Site Collection Administrator (which you’ll need to be if you are not) click on the Search settings link under the Site Collection Administration section.

3. In the first section called Site Collection Search Center change the radio button to “Enable custom scopes” and specify to use the URL of the new search center you just created.  Usually something like “/search” (without the quotations).

4. Then just as with the publishing portal, change the option in the section section for Site Collection Search Dropdown Mode to “Do not show scopes dropdown, and default to target results page.”  Press OK and again – back to MOSS 2007 behavior.

Why the change?

Why the change in behavior for the Publishing Portal and Enterprise Wiki?  The reason for the change to default the scope to the This Site scope was because it was determined based on research that most users would first look for content within the current site.  Although different, it is easy to configure as we showed above.

The biggest change in the new search philosophy can be seen with the Enterprise Wiki. Why is there no search center?  The reason behind this is because in many organizations there’s a need to have a centralized place to do searching. So the idea is that a single search center would be created for an organization that all site collections would point to.  However the great thing about SharePoint is that there’s a ton of flexibility to set things up to best suit your individual needs.  If you preferred the MOSS 2007 way of doing things you’ve got that option as well.  It only takes a few moments to make the change.

I’m very excited about the new search features in SP2010 and plan to be talking about it in upcoming posts!

Where have I been?

It’s really been far too long since I last posted to this space. This past year has been extremely busy both personally and professionally – I’ll spare you all the personal details but want to give a quick overview of what I’ve been doing and what you can expect moving forward.

For starters, I’ve been busy writing for three books. The first of which should be released before July 1st.  As we get closer with all of the texts I hope to provide more information on these awesome titles:

Professional SharePoint 2010 Administration

Professional SharePoint 2010 Branding and User Interface Design

Real World SharePoint 2010: Indispensable Experiences from 20 SharePoint MVPs

When I haven’t been writing books…..well I’ve been writing other stuff.  I’ve been contributing content for a Microsoft Search Portal which will be available in the very near future. I’ll be sure to post links as soon as I have them.

Prior to SharePoint Conference I recorded a couple screencasts about SP2010 which have been up for several months now and were recently re-recorded with updated content.  If you were interested to check out the old ones, take a look here:

What Can SharePoint 2010 Do For Me?

Getting Started with Search in SharePoint 2010

I’ve also been contributing to some SharePoint training courses which will be available soon from Microsoft Learning.

My user group that I am co-founder for, the Orlando SharePoint User Group, has continued to grow. I’m very proud of how the SharePoint Community in Central Florida has continued to grow.  To help build on this, at the end of 2009 I helped to co-organize the first SharePoint Saturday in Tampa and will be holding our second one June 26th, 2010.  Registration is no open so go be sure to come check it out!  Although the speaker list hasn’t been officially announced yet, I can say that I’m very excited so if you are a SharePointer who can get to Tampa you aren’t going to want to miss this one!

This next few months should be very exciting and I’m looking forward to sharing everything in this space so stay tuned!