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!

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