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Article – Tiles (Metro UI) Navigation Web Part in SharePoint 2013

Posted by Joy

Modern UI (formerly knows as Metro-style UI) was introduced with Windows 8 operating system.

I was looking at providing the same navigation for a SharePoint site and then I found out that SharePoint 2013 Team Site template already provides a feature for the same. I’m sure lot of people are not aware of this and decided to blog about it.

Following is the out-of-the-box Tiles web part we will get when we create a new site using Team Site template:

Team Site Tiles web part

This Tiles web part was introduced in SharePoint 2013 using a new list template named “Promoted Links”. Let’s make use of this new list template and create a new Tiles based navigation web part.

Task 1 – Activating the required Feature

The “Promoted Links” list templates comes with a Features called “Team Collaboration Lists”. If you are using a site created from a Team Site template, most like this Feature is already activated. In case if you don’t see this list template and if you are using a site created from other than Team Site template, perform the following steps to activate the Feature:

  • Click Settings –> Site settings
  • Select Manage site features from Site Actions section
  • Activate the Feature “Team Collaboration Lists

Team Collabotation Lists Feature

Task 2 – Create a list using Promoted Links list template
  • Click Settings –> Add an app

Site settings

  • Select Promoted Links list template

Promoted Links list template

  • Give a name and click Create. I provided “Menu” as the name of the list.
  • Click the newly created list (in my example “Menu”)
  • Click “All Promoted Links” to go to All Promoted Links view

Promoted Links list

  • Click new item to add new items to be appeared in the Tiles web part. You need to enter Title, Background Image Location, Description, Link Location and also Launch Behavior. I uploaded few images to Site Assets library beforehand and specified their location for the Background Image Location.

New promoted link item

  • I entered 04 items to the Menu list I created
Task 3 – Add Promoted Links list view web part (Tiled view) into the page
  • Navigate to the page where you want to add the Tiles web part
  • Click Edit and go to edit mode
  • Click Insert –> Web Part and select the list from the Apps category

Add web part

  • Click Add and Save the page
  • Now you can enjoy the new Modern UI (Metro Style) Tiles web part

New Tiles web part


Article – Customizing SharePoint 2013 Search Results with Query Rules – User Intent

Posted by Joy

One of the best new features of SharePoint 2013 Search is the introduction of Query Rules. Query Rules in SharePoint 2013 replaces the Best Bet functionality in SharePoint 2010.

Query Rules allows us to create:

  • Result Blocks
  • Promoted Results
  • Change Ranked Results
  • Act on user “Intent”
  • Publishing

Act on user “Intent”

Act on user intent is all about searching in a natural way. It means mixing our natural vocabulary with search queries.

Most of us refer to PowerPoint presentations as “Deck” and Word documents as “Doc”. In SharePoint 2010 search, when we want to search for any Word or PowerPoint content, you need to first search by giving the search query and then refine using file type.

What if we want to combine our natural vocabulary with search keywords? For example, what if I issue search queries such as “SharePoint deck” and “SharePoint doc” trying to locate Word or PowerPoint content which contains SharePoint keyword? In SharePoint 2010 search, it will search for content which contains “SharePoint deck” and “SharePoint doc” within the content. It doesn’t understand that “deck” and “doc” are two words we use in our day-to-day vocabulary. But in SharePoint 2013, if you search by giving “SharePoint deck” and “SharePoint doc”, it will return Word and PowerPoint content which contains “SharePoint” keyword within the content. SharePoint 2013 understands that “deck” and “doc” are two words which we use commonly in our day-to-day work.

Following is a screen capture of a search result without using any user intent:

SharePoint 2013 Search result

Following is a screen capture of a search result with the use of new SharePoint 2013 Search user intent features:

SharePoint 2013 Search result with user intent

SharePoint 2013 Search result with user intent

“Deck” and “doc” are two built-in user intents provided by SharePoint 2013 Search. We also can introduce custom user intent with the help of new Query Rules concept.

Adding custom user intents

We often refer images as “pics”. It will be very convenient for end-users for being able to search for images by combining “pics” user intent rather than searching and then refining using file type search refinement.

Following is a screen capture of a search result which gives no results when you use “pics” user intent since “pics” is not a built-in search user intent rule and it’s trying to search for content which contains “sharePoint pics” within the content:

SharePoint 2013 Search result

Following steps demonstrate how we can get custom user intents integrated to SharePoint 2013 search.

Task – Creating a custom User Intent Query Rule
  • Navigate to your Search Center. In my case, it’s
  • Click Settings from top-right corner and select Site Settings to navigate to Site Settings page.
  • Select Search Query Rules from the Site Collection Administration section to navigate to Manage Query Rules pageSite Settings
  • Select Local SharePoint Results (System) for For what context do you want to configure rules? parameter and click New Query Rule to open Add Query Rule page.Manage Query Rules page
  • Give a Rule Name, and select Query Contains Action Term for Query Condition. Enter “pics” for the option Action term is one of these phrasesAdd Query Rule page
  • Select Add Result Block under Result Blocks in Actions section to open Add Result Block dialog boxAdd Query Rule page
  • Amend the Block Title and click Launch Query Builder to open Build Your Query window.Add Result Block
  • Select Pictures (System) for Select a query option and click Test query button and observe the SEARCH RESULT PREVIEWBuild Your QueryBuild Your Query
  • Click OK to go back to Add Result Block dialog. Change the Items value depending on how many items you need to show in the search result.Add Result Block
  • Click Settings link to expand Settings section. Select Picture Item for Item Display Template and click OK.Add Result Block
  • Click Save to exit from Add Query Rule page
Task 2 – Testing the custom User Intent Query Rule
  • Navigate to Search Center.
  • Search using the new User Intent. Following screen capture shows a result of a search query which is combined with “pics” user intent
    SharePoint 2013 Search result with user intent

Article – Customizing SharePoint 2013 Results using Result Sources

Posted by Joy

SharePoint 2013 gives us a very powerful Search platform by integrating the power of FAST Search platform. One of the very useful capabilities of SharePoint Search is the ability to customize to suite to your requirement.

SharePoint 2013 Search allows not only to customize the Content Processing Pipeline but also to customize how search results are queried and displayed in the search result.

In SharePoint 2010 one of the many ways we could customize search result was customizing Search Scopes. A search scope in SharePoint 2010 defines a subset of information in the search index. Users can select a search scope when performing a search to restrict search results to the subset of information that they want. Generally, search scopes consists of specific topics and different content sources that are important and common to users in the organization. Following is a screen capture of how SharePoint 2010 configures it’s default search scopes.

SharePoint 2010 search scopes

In SharePoint 2013 terminology, we don’t have Search Scopes concept anymore and we have Result Sources as a replacement for search scopes. Result source in SharePoint Server 2013 is used to specify a provider to get search results from, and optionally to narrow a search to a subset of those results. Result sources are more powerful than search scopes which we used in SharePoint 2010. Following are the default result sources we get in as part of the default configuration of SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013 Result Sources

SharePoint 2013 default result sources provides:

  • Everything – Local SharePoint results
  • People – Local People results
  • Conversations – Local conversation results
  • Videos – Local Video results

In this article lets explore how we can use Result Sources to customize the search results presentation to provide more user-centric search experience.


When users navigate to out-of-the-box Search Center in SharePoint 2013 and execute a search result, it displays all the items which contains/ match the search keyword. Following is an example of a default search result which shows everything including Sites, Pages, Documents, tasks, Calendar items which match with the search criteria.

SharePoint 2013 built-in search result page

What we want to do is, to customize the default search result presentation to meet the following conditions:

  • Search result will display only the content authored by the user who is executing the search query.
  • Search result will display only the Word Documents and will eliminate Sites, Pages, Calendar items and Tasks even if there are matching items.


We will be customizing SharePoint Search Result Sources to provide the above custom search result presentation experience.

Task 1 – Creating a custom Result Source

  • Navigate to your Search Center. In my case I have a Search Center defined in the URL:
  • Select Settings and Site Settings to navigate to Site Settings pageSite Actions menu
  • Select Search Result Sources from the Site Collection Administration section to navigate to Manage Result Sources pageSite Collection Administration
  • Manage Result Sources page shows all the built-in Result Sources. Click New Result Source to add a custom Result Source.Manage Result Sources
  • Enter a Name for your custom Result Source. Leave Protocol as Local SharePoint. Leave Type and SharePoint Search Result. Click Launch Query Builder button to launch the Build Your Query window.Build Your Query
  • We will be using BASICS tab to build our custom search query. Set Property filter as shown below and click Add property filter button to add it to Query text area. Click Test query button to test the query and observe the SEARCH RESULT PREVIEW.Build Your Query
  • Set Property filter again with the following parameters as shown below and click Add property filter button to add it to Query text area. Click Test query button again to test the query and observe the SEARCH RESULT PREVIEW. Now you can see the effect of our custom search query and how it reduces the result displayed to end-user.Build Your Query
  • Click Save to navigate back to Manage Result Sources page


Task 2 – Associating the new Result Source with the Search Center

  • Navigate to your Search Center. In my case I have a Search Center defined in the URL:
  • Select Settings and click Add a page option. Enter a name for the page and click Create.Add a page
  • New page will be in edit mode and you can customize the web parts available in the new page.
  • Edit Search Results web part to associate our new Result Source.Edit Search Result web part
  • Select Change query button and select the newly created custom Result Source from the Select a query drop down and click OK.Edit Search Result web part

    Change Search query

  • Click OK from from the edit web part property page to exit edit web part property page.
  • Click Check it in and Continue to check in the new page
  • Click Publish it to publish the new page.


Task 3 – Adding the new page as a search vertical

  • Select Settings and Site Settings to navigate to Site Settings page
  • Select Search Settings from Search section
  • Locate Configure Search Navigation section in Search Settings page. Click Add Link … to add a new navigation link.Add a search navigation link
  • Enter a title for the Title: field. For the URL: field, browse for the the newly created page by using Browse… button. Click OK.Add a search navigation link
  • Click OK to exit Search Settings page


Task 4 – Test the new Result Source

  • Navigate to Search Center and perform a search. You will see the new result source being added to search result page.SharePoint 2013 search result with the new result source
  • Select the new result source and see how it applied the conditions we specified to show content authored by the user who is running the search query and to include only Word documents.New result source search result presentation

Article – What’s new and improved in Visio 2013 Workflow designer

Posted by Joy

Wave 14 of SharePoint and Office introduced a new capability into Visio – being able to design SharePoint workflows. Visio 2010 Premium edition was introduced with this capability and it helped Business Analysts to capture workflow process requirements easily and draw then within Visio and import them to SharePoint Designer to add the logic.

Visio 2013 introduces few new features and improvements with regard to designing SharePoint workflows and they are:

  • Modifying shape properties – in Visio 2010, we could only connect shapes with each other and change the shape description. In Visio 2013 we can change shape properties to properly describe what each shape does within the workflow.
  • Stages – just like Steps feature which was introduced in SharePoint Designer 2010 for developing workflows, Stages help grouping activities together. Apart from grouping, Stages also provide the capability to control the flow of the workflow by specifying which stage to follow after finishing the current stage. We can use “if” conditions to control the movements between stages.Stages in Visio 2013
  • No more “vwi” files – in Visio 2010, after designing the workflow, we need to save the drawing into a special file type called “vwi” – Visio Workflow Interchange in order to import it to SharePoint Designer. In Visio 2013, you don’t have to save to any special file types and you can rely on the native “vsdx” file type and still import it to SharePoint Designer.

Article – Enabling Continuous Crawling in SharePoint 2013 Search

Posted by Joy

Crawling is the mechanism which SharePoint Search uses to go through all the items in a given content source and build an Index. All the search queries get executed against the Index to provide the search result. Outcome of the search always depends on the freshness of the Index. In other words, if the Index is very fresh/ recent, we have the ability of pulling fresh/ recent content as part of the search query. If the Index is very old/ outdated, search result will contain outdated search results.

SharePoint used to provide 02 mechanisms to crawl content from a content source – Full crawl and Incremental crawl.

  • Full crawl – this forces SharePoint to go through the entire content source, no matter what is the status of the Index and traverse through all the items from the first item through the last item and re-build the Index. This is what we do as the very first thing after we add a new content source. Time it takes to complete a full crawl is always depends on the volume of the content. If the volume is high, we don’t recommend running frequent full crawls.
  • Incremental crawl – this instructs SharePoint crawler to crawl only the modified content (added/ changed/ deleted) from the last full or incremental crawl. This takes less time to crawl since it doesn’t have to traverse through the entire content source and crawl the entire content source.

Most of the organizations, schedule incremental crawls depending on how frequent their content get updated. Incremental crawl starts at a particular time and repeats regularly at specified times.

SharePoint 2013 introduces an alternate option for incremental crawls – Continuous crawl.

  • Continuous crawl – this is a new option in SharePoint 2013 and it applies only to SharePoint Sites. Like incremental crawls, a continuous crawl crawls content that was added, changed, or deleted since the last crawl. Unlike incremental crawls, continuous crawl automatically starts at predefined time intervals. The default time interval is 15 minutes. This is the ideal option for crawling SharePoint content that is changing quickly/ frequently. With this, we can ensure freshness of Index and search result.
Configuring continuous crawl
  • Open SharePoint 2013 Central Administration web site
  • Select Manage service applications option from Application Management section
  • Select Search Service Application instance
  • Select Content Sources link under Search Administration links in left hand side
  • Select either New Content Source or your existing SharePoint content source
  • Select Enable Continuous Crawls for Crawl Schedules option and click OK.Crawl Schedules

Article – SharePoint Search Capabilities Comparison

Posted by Joy

Search is one of the important workloads of SharePoint Products and Technologies. Microsoft’s Enterprise Search offerings have evolved very fast over the last few years and have gone through number of changes.

SharePoint 2010 release introduced the most powerful Search platform by combing the power of FAST ESP with SharePoint platform. However, customers were confused when selecting the right Search platform since there were so many Search offerings.

Following are the different Search offerings we had around SharePoint 2010:

  • SharePoint Foundation 2010
  • SharePoint Server 2010
  • SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites
  • Search Server 2010 Express
  • Search Server 2010
  • FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint
  • FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint Internet Sites
  • FAST Search Server 2010 for Internet Sites
  • FAST Search Server 2010 Internal Applications

Wow, big list of Search offerings…

With the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft made it very simple and easy to pick the right Search offering. We now don’t have FAST product line and it’s only SharePoint Search. However, SharePoint 2013 has many forms including both on-premise and cloud and Search will vary based on the selection of the SharePoint model.

Following is a very high-level feature comparison of Search based on the SharePoint deployment model:

Capability Foundation Standard Enterprise Online
Advanced Content Processing Yes Yes Yes No
Content Processing Enrichment No No Yes No
Content Search Web Part No No Yes No
Continues crawl Yes Yes Yes No
Custom entity extraction No No Yes No
Deep links No Yes Yes Yes
Event-based relevancy No Yes Yes Yes
Expertise Search Yes Yes Yes Yes
Graphical refiners No Yes Yes Yes
Hybrid search Yes Yes Yes Yes
Managed navigation No Yes Yes Yes
Phonetic name matching Yes Yes Yes Yes
Query rules – add promoted results No Yes Yes Yes
Query rules – advanced actions No No Yes Yes
Query spelling correction Yes Yes Yes Yes
Query suggestions No Yes Yes Yes
Query throttling No Yes Yes Yes
Quick preview Yes Yes Yes Yes
Recommendations No Yes Yes Yes
Refiners Yes Yes Yes No
Query Object Model/ RESTful Query API Yes Yes Yes Yes
Result sources Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search connector framework No No Yes No
Search results sorting Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search vertical – Conversations No Yes Yes Yes
Search vertical – People No Yes Yes Yes
Search vertical – Video No No Yes Yes
Tunable relevancy No No Yes No

Article – Creating a BI Center and Testing Excel Services

Posted by Joy

Business Intelligence (BI) is one of the most compelling features in SharePoint. All the BI features of SharePoint come with the Enterprise edition of SharePoint. Following are some of the BI components come with SharePoint:

  • Excel Services
  • Visio Services
  • Access Services
  • Power View
  • PowerPivot
  • PerformancePoint Dashboard

In order to leverage all of these BI features in SharePoint, you need to create and configure a BI Center in SharePoint. In this article I will guide you through the process of creating a BI Center in SharePoint and testing Excel Services as Excel Services being a very important/ core feature for rest of the BI features in SharePoint.

Creating a BI Center

  • Navigate to SharePoint 2013 Central Administration web site
  • Select Create site collections link from Application Management sectionApplication Management section
  • From the Create Site Collection page, make sure you select the correct Web Application in which you want to create the BI Center. Provide a Title and an option Description. Provide a URL.Create Site Collection page
  • From the Select a template: section, go to Enterprise tab and select Business Intelligence Center site template. Provide a Primary Site Collection Administrator and click OK.Create Site Collection page
  • It will notify you saying that Site Collection has been successfully created. Open the new site and it will take you to the home page of the new BI Center.BI Center

Testing Excel Services

  • From the BI Center home page, from the Left Navigation (Quick Launch), select Site Contents link.BI Center
  • Select Documents libraryCapture7
  • Click the name of the Excel Services Sample Workbook to test the Excel Services.Capture8
  • You will see the following output if you have configured Excel Services correctly.Capture9

Now you are all set to explore rest of the BI features of SharePoint 2013. Smile


Article – Enabling Developer Dashboard in SharePoint 2013

Posted by Joy

The Developer Dashboard was introduced in SharePoint 2010. Objective was to show performance and tracing information for a SharePoint page. It was introduced as a control on the page itself (rather MasterPage). In SharePoint 2013, the Developer Dashboard has been improved a lot. Now it opens up in a separate dedicated window and no longer a control on the page (MasterPage). It also no longer just contains information about the last request but contains information about several requests. In this version of the Developer Dashboard, we can compare multiple page requests information.

This version of the Developer Dashboard is a lot more detailed than it was in SharePoint 2010. It gives a tabify output with lot more information related to the page request. Apart from the information we got in SharePoint 2010 Developer Dashboard, SharePoint 2013 Developer Dashboard will show:

  • Service calls
  • All ULS log entries that are related to the request
  • SQL requests and the time it took to process them
  • The different scopes and execution times

By default, the Developer Dashboard is disabled. You can enable it by using Windows PowerShell. The Windows PowerShell cmdlet only supports "On" and "Off" parameters. The "OnDemand" parameter has been deprecated. However, "On" parameter now pretty much acts the way "OnDemand" did in SharePoint 2010. Just like in SharePoint 2010, it displays an icon in the upper-right corner that allows you to open up the Developer Dashboard as when needed.

Following Windows PowerShell command shows how to enable SharePoint 2013 Developer Dashbiard:

Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ErrorAction "SilentlyContinue"

$DevDashboardSettings = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPWebService]:: ContentService.DeveloperDashboardSettings

$DevDashboardSettings.DisplayLevel = 'On'



Article – Service Applications in SharePoint 2013

Posted by Joy

Looking at the feature set offered by SharePoint 2013, we can categorize into 4 different offerings at very high-level, and they are:

  • SharePoint Foundation 2013
  • SharePoint Server 2013 Standard
  • SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise
  • SharePoint Online

To help you understand which service applications are available in each variation of the SharePoint 2013 platform, I have gathered information from Microsoft TechNet and created the following table for your easy access:

Service Application Name Foundation Standard Enterprise Online
Access Services X X
Access Services 2010 X X X
App Management Service
Business Data Connectivity Service
Excel Services Application X X
Machine Translation Service X X
PerformancePoint Service Application X X X
PowerPoint Automation Services X
Managed Metadata Service Application X
Search Service Application
Secure Store Service X
Site Subscription Settings Service
State Service
User and Health Data Collection Service
User Profile Service Application X
Visio Graphics Service X X
Word Automation Service X
Work Management Service Application X
Workflow Service Application

Article – SharePoint and Search Product Acronyms. Are you also confused?

Posted by Joy

We had a good session on Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint (FS4SP) few day ago and the idea was to introduce Enterprise Search concepts within our SharePoint CEG. During the session, the guy who presented touched few products related to SharePoint and Search and I noticed some of the attendees were confused with all these product names and their acronyms.

Yes, there are lot of choices from Microsoft now when we want to implement Enterprise Search or Search driven applications with or without SharePoint. Unfortunately, most of these product names are very long and we don't have any other choice rather than using their acronyms.

Based on my readings, studies and investigation, following is a list I came up with for a list of products and their acronyms related to SharePoint and Search:

Acronym Full Product Name
SPF Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010
SP Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
SP-FIS Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites – Standard
SP-FIS-E Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites – Enterprise
Acronym Full Product Name
MSS Microsoft Search Server 2010
MSS-X Microsoft Search Server 2010 Express
FS4SP Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint
FS4SP-IS Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint Internet Sites
FSIS Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for Internet Sites
FSIA Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for Internal Applications
Hope this helps you..?