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Editor's note: Contributor Nicki Borell is a SharePoint Evangelist & Consultant for Experts Inside. Follow him @NickiBorell.
Part I is about Search Driven in on-premise environments
Part II will show the options and differences with O365 SharePoint Online
In Part I, I wrote about the options and scenarios of Search and Search Driven Apps in SharePoint 2013 on-premise. Now, let’s see what options we have using the online version of the new SharePoint 2013.
There are two big differences in SharePoint Online:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->We did not have the new Webpart Family “Search Driven Content”.
So, in fact we only can use the common Search Result Webpart and its options within the Query Builder to create dynamic search solutions
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->In SharePoint Online we are not able to configure our own content sources or manipulate the settings like Crawler scheduling etc.
Missing content sources option in SharePoint Online and its impact
Because the option “content sources” is not available in SharePoint Online we have to look for alternatives to bring in our own content to the SharePoint Online environment. Another point is the index freshness, which cannot be manipulated to set up Crawler scheduling or manually decide to configure continuous crawling options.
Also, in the official technet documentation, there is not a clear statement whether continuous crawling is set up by default for SharePoint Online or not. My own experience says: “Yes, it is”. I get search result in the index within 2min – 4min. This is really fast and for me, in most scenarios, ok.
To bring in your own content to your SharePoint Online Search you have to use “Result Sources”. To set up those 3rd Party Result Sources you can use “Site Setting” to configure them in the context of a Site Collection or SharePoint Admin Center to do it globally.
The dialog for setting up a Result Source shows the option for bringing in your own content:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Local SharePoint
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Remote SharePoint
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->OpenSearch 1.0/1.1
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Exchange
For all options you have to configure a security context to access the result source. Using Remote SharePoint you can use SSO or path thru authentication. Using Open Search we have the option to use Anonymous, Basic Authentication, Digest Authentication, NTLM, Form Authentication or Cookie Authentication. Using Remote SharePoint to call an on-premise SharePoint Search you have to set up a Search Federation based on an Identity Federation.
In all cases we have to configure a Remote Address and we can configure a Query Transformation (as described in Part I) to filter or manipulate the query which is sent to the remote system.
In my demo tenant I simply used some open search based systems.
(These can of course also be remote endpoints for your LOB systems or other on-premise sources)
Setting up those systems as a “Result Source” gave me the option to use them in my SharePoint Online system to build Search Driven experiences.
Search Driven experiences and solutions in SharePoint Online
The easiest way to use the new result source, and within them remote content, is using them in the result Webpart. In this example you can see an overview site in my SharePoint Online that aggregates news from configured social media sources based on Result Webparts:
For example filling the atwork area for Twitter news I configured the Result Webpart with these setting:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Setting up the “Select a query” with the “Twitter” Result Source
<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->Fill in a query that focus to the desired results
Using the configured result sources within Query Rules (as described in Part I) we can build a focused search experience like this social media search page:
Search Driven Solutions can of course also be built based on SharePoint Online content. Here you see an example based on content placed in SharePoint Online lists ad libraries:
And of course you can mix results coming from remote sources and results coming from your SharePoint Online source.
This Webcast shows the described samples in action: Building Search Driven Solution with SharePoint 2013 Part II - On YouTube