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Integrating SharePoint Search with the desktop

October 13, 2010 11 comments

I often get asked if it’s possible to integrate SharePoint search services with the users desktop. And yes of course it is! To summarize the features and how to get it up and running, follow the brief descriptions below.

Note that installing and integrating SharePoint search with the desktop is not equal to implementing “Enterprise search” as a concept. If an implementation of enterprise search is considered, be sure  to include topics like taxonomy tagging, topic maps, enterprise content management, metadata, information strategies and more. Making the search engine available for the user in different contexts is just a tiny little piece of the puzzle.

NOTE! Before you enable the desktop application’s ability to integrate with a search engine you will have to install and configure the search service. You may use SharePoint search features (both 2007 and 2010), Microsoft Search Server as well as FAST integrated search. However, this will not work with Windows SharePoint Services or SharePoint Foundation.

Microsoft Office research pane

The Microsoft Office research pane gives you the ability to search directly from within Office products. This feature has been available in Microsoft Office products since at least Office XP and is very easy to use. To add your SharePoint installation as a search provider in Office, do the following:

  1. Open the research pane
  2. Click the “Research options” at the bottom of the pane
  3. Click the “Add services” button in the Research options dialog
  4. Enter the URL to the SharePoint search service web service, similar to:
                  http://%5Byour_server%5D/_vti_bin/search.asmx
  5. Click your way out after the successful addition

And yes, it is possible to add search providers through centralized management, such as GPO’s. Read more at the xxx.

Internet Explorer 7+ search bar

When you use Internet Explorer 7 or newer you have a search bar integrated in IE. By default it’s pointed at Microsoft’s Bing and it’s possible to select additional search providers from a list. However, it’s more or less just as easy to add your SharePoint search service as a search provider within IE.

  1. With IE, navigate to http://www.ieaddons.com/en/createsearch.aspx
  2. Enter the URL to your search service including a query word “TEST” similar to:
                  http://%5Byour_server%5D/SearchCenter/Pages/results.aspx?k=TEST
  3. Give the search provider a name which will be displayed as the name of the service
  4. Select the proper character set the search service use
  5. Click the “Install provider” button to install the service in IE.

Read more on how to deploy this through GPO or other means of central administration.

Windows 7 Integrated Search

The Windows Search integrated in Windows 7 use OpenSearch to connect to different search providers. OpenSearch is a standard for query and result and is basically just XML and web services. With some quick steps you may add your SharePoint server search service as a possible search provider from Windows 7 search (available in Windows Explorer).

  1. Create an XML file containing information about where to find the search service. This XML file should look something like this (change highlighted content for customization):
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <OpenSearchDescription xmlns=”http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/” xmlns:ms-ose="http://schemas.microsoft.com/opensearchext/2009/">&#160;
      <ShortName>SharePoint Search</ShortName> 
      <Description>Search the local SharePoint installation</Description> 
      <Url type="application/rss+xml" template="http://[your_server]/searchcenter/_layouts/srchrss.aspx?k={searchTerms}&amp;web.count=50" />
      <Url type="text/html" template="http://[your_server]/searchcenter/Pages/results.aspx?k={searchTerms}"/>
    </OpenSearchDescription>
  2. Save the file as an .OSDX file
  3. Double click the file you created to import the settings into Windows and just follow the steps in the wizard.

Do note that Windows 7 supports OpenSearch and is able to integrate with any OpenSearch search provider. Both SharePoint Server 2007 and 2010 may be used as a search provider for OpenSearch connectors.

Another option with Windows Vista and Windows 7 is to define the Primary intranet search scope Url in the registry or through Group Policies. To implement this add the search provider URL use the Group Policy Editor or edit the registry key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search\PrimaryIntranetSearchScopeUrl with the following string value modified with your appropriate values:
     [ScopeName],http://%5Byour_server%5D/SearchCenter/Pages/results.aspx?k=$w
This will enable the integrated search capabilities to involve the SharePoint search engine.

Windows Desktop Search (WDS)

As an addition to Windows XP it was possible to install “Desktop Search”, a client based indexer and search engine. Since it stole all resources on the client, no one actually used it, but when you connect the Desktop Search to a centralized search engine such as SharePoint, the use is a lot more efficient.

To use Windows Desktop Search you will have to install the software. It’s downloadable from Microsoft as a free package for genuine Windows users. Please remember to use release 3.x for Windows XP and release 4.x for Windows Vista and Windows 7.

After the software has been installed, follow these steps to configure WDS to use the SharePoint search provider. Please note that local administrative privileges is required to complete these steps. Procedural steps has not been verified.

  1. Open the registry editor (regedit.exe).
  2. Navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search.
  3. Add a new string value (REG_SZ) and name it “SecondaryIntranetSearchScopeUrl”.
  4. Set the value to “[ScopeName],[QueryUrl]?k=$w”, similar to:
             [ScopeName],http://%5Byour_server%5D/SearchCenter/Pages/results.aspx?k=$w
       
    For multiple providers separate each string with a semicolon.
  5. Save and close the registry editor

Since these settings are placed directly into the registry, it may be set by Group Policies as well. With Windows Vista the policy template (.adm file) is included with Windows. For Windows XP you will have to download the template from Microsoft.

Read also the MSDN blog article about enabling WDS for intranet search.

Recommended additional reading and resources

For further information on how to deploy search services I suggest you take a look at some of the following sites and pages:

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Windows Live Essentials 2011 Released

October 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The latest release of Live Essentials is now released and available for download in a lot of languages. Now that Microsoft has cleaned up some of the services, especially Live Mesh, Live Folders and Live Sync, it’s almost like a dream come true.

Yes, Microsoft has a long way to go to make this a complete and transparent personal cloud service. But in my opinion, they’re getting there.

Keep up the good work and make Google and Apple look like kids on a grown up playground 🙂

Download Live Essentials from http://get.live.com.

UPDATE!
It seems like it’s a bit too early to cheer. There’s some compatibility issues with the display driver, a Windows update and IE9 beta which causes several of the applications to hang or crash. After doing some research and trouble shooting I found the solution described as a part of Microsoft’s release notes for Live Essentials 2011.

The problem occurs as a conflict between the display driver and an update Microsoft release to add new graphics functionality to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. To resolve this issue, basically do the following:

  1. Uninstall IE9 Technical Preview and Windows 7 SP1 Beta if installed.
  2. Update display drivers, especially if you use ATI/AMD display controllers.
  3. Remove KB2028560 from your computer.
  4. Install release 2 of KB2028560 (requires "Genuine Windows”).

At least this resolved my issues, and I’m able to reinstall Internet Explorer 9 Public Beta without any problems! 🙂

Great Royalty Free Web Icons

October 6, 2010 3 comments

As I was looking for something completely different I came across icons.mysitemyway.com. A completely royalty free collection of web icons and stock clip art. The following are some samples from the collection (click to enlarge the images):

080987-glossy-silver-icon-business-creditcard2 081016-glossy-silver-icon-business-envelope1 100878-orange-white-pearl-icon-social-media-logos-rss-basic 124211-matte-red-and-white-square-icon-transport-travel-transportation-train8-sc43

This is a site and service I can highly recommend!

Klar for nye utfordringer

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Den siste tiden har jeg gått litt inn i meg selv og konkludert at jeg er moden for nye utfordringer. Etter snart 6 år i departementet er jeg nå mer aktivt på utkikk etter en alternativ arbeidsgiver med interessante nye utfordringer.

I hovedsak ønsker jeg en IKT-lederrolle i et selskap med fokus på virksomhetsstyrt IKT og effektiv bruk av IKT som verktøy til å støtte arbeidsprosessene og effektivisering av virksomheten. Dette fordrer både endringsvilje og evne samt ressursene som kreves for å kunne gjennomføre.

Alternativt er rådgivende stillinger innenfor effektiv bruk av IKT, BI, BPM og lignende av interesse. Hovedsaklig internt i en virksomhet, men også som konsulent.

Er du interessert i hva jeg kan bidra med og gjøre for din virksomhet, les mer under About og min profil på LinkedIn eller last ned min kompetanseprofil (utvidet CV). Jeg kan også kontaktes direkte på telefon +47 418 52 773 eller e-post Lasse [AT] Wikmark.name.

Installing SharePoint Foundation 2010 on Windows 7

July 20, 2010 8 comments

I know there’s a lot of posts describing how to install SharePoint Foundation 2010 (WSS4) on Windows 7 (see Microsoft’s installation procedure for Vista and Windows Server 2008 installations), but I just had to write my own short edition of the installation procedure available at MSDN.

Please note that Microsoft does not support this configuration for production environments. Windows 7 installations should only be used for development, testing and demo purposes!

Prerequisites

The following components and additions has to be installed on the computer running Windows 7 64-bit edition:

Installation procedure

Use the following procedure to install SharePoint Foundation:

  1. Make sure all prerequisites are met and no critical error is present in the event logs.
  2. Download SharePoint Foundation from Microsoft’s web site.
  3. Extract the web package to a temporary location using the /extract command line option.
  4. Edit the .\files\Setup\config.xml file according to the section below.
  5. Run the SharePoint Foundation setup, but do not run the configuration wizard.
  6. If you use a local SQL Server 2008, install KB970315.
  7. Run the SharePoint products and technologies configuration wizard.
  8. Install appropriate language packs.
  9. Configure SharePoint with the SharePoint Central Administration web application.

Editing the config.xml file

As described in step 4 in the installation procedure above, the config.xml file has to be edited to allow installation on Windows 7. Add the following line in the configuration section:
<Setting Id="AllowWindowsClientInstall" Value="True"/>

The entire config.xml file should look similar to this:

<Configuration>
  <Package Id="sts">
    <Setting Id="SETUPTYPE" Value="CLEAN_INSTALL" />
  </Package>
  <DATADIR Value="%CommonProgramFiles%\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\Data" />
  <Logging Type="verbose" Path="%temp%" Template="Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 4.0 Setup *.log" />
  <PIDKEY Value="RBWQH-7PFXQ-D6RX2-HVK8Y-HP7F7" />
  <Setting Id="UsingUIInstallMode" Value="1" />
  <Setting Id="SETUP_REBOOT" Value="Never" />
  <Setting Id="AllowWindowsClientInstall" Value="True"/>
</Configuration>

IIS Features and Components

The follow screen shots shows required IIS components as described in the prerequisites section:

N’Joy!

Using LiveID with SharePoint

Managing users and user profiles on a public or community site running SharePoint is often a pain in the ass. Luckily some creative developers have created an authentication provider for SharePoint which authenticates users with Microsoft LiveID. I’ve tried different solutions, but the extended version of CKS:LiveID developed by Wictor Wilén seems to be the best to use and easiest to install and configure.

How to get started? Well, in short terms:

  • Download the Live Authentication Provider from Codeplex.
  • Register a LiveID authentication service at Microsoft Azure.
  • Install and configure the LiveID authentication provider according to the documentation provided with the solution file.
  • Add users and user permissions to your site, and…
  • Off you go!

    Please note that the authentication provider requires outbound http and https traffic (web services). If you use a proxy, please make sure you add the appropriate proxy settings in the web.config file!

    See also Wictor’s blog post on the solution.

    The DNN-approach

    Another approach is to use the LiveID integration provided with the DotNetNuke (DNN) framework. With some additional modules, it’s possible to use DNN as an authentication and user management front-end to SharePoint. This makes a great authentication provider and self-service user management solutions, especially since the modules for DNN is free and highly customizable.

    N’Joy!

    New beta release of Live Essentials

    I just downloaded and installed the latest beta releases of Microsoft Live Essentials and it seems like Microsoft has taken other users comments into consideration when writing a new release.

    The most important change (at least for me) is the merge of Live SkyDrive, Live Sync and Live Mesh. Since I use all three services, I’ve had a pain in the a… trying to figure out what kind of files to place were. There’s still a way to go but so far it looks great.

    The client side Live applications has all been made more “Microsoft-ish”. With the ribbon and editing features most people know from the Office products since 2007. Personally I fancy Live Writer, which I use for both personal blogging, public blogging and page editing (articles etc.). The media support in the new release is heavily improved with the ability to insert video from both personal files, YouTube integrated accounts and from any streaming URL. Very cool indeed.

    So far I haven’t found any major issue with the current beta and can recommend it to anyone, even if you use services from providers other than Microsoft.

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