Friday, December 3, 2010

Designing Intranet search…Its not google

Search enables users to find what they are looking for…a myth

Believe it or not ,search in intranet domain is not centered around what users want to see but more importantly what business wants the users to see.This statement might seem radical but it is not so when you look behind the intent. Business generally knows what are the repositories available,what are the expected searches and what type of search result might help you do your Job better.Its like a Big brother watching you and guiding you to search. You may be typing in Holiday Calender but what you really need is the corporate calendar because there us nothing called a separate calender.Many Large firms spend considerable energy in driving employees to the places they deem are important rather than firing a true search

Since intranet is a managed content with clearly defined content creators and owners the search design is different from normal internet search. Here the focus is not on covering all the data but how to block certain data,its more focussed on promoting a few pages on top rather than finding the best fit for your search.

A wrong result is more worry some rather than a missing right result.Consider an example here: HR releases a not so popular  policy and this leads to a lot of backlash from employees on Intranet forums,internal blogs ,reviews etc..

Now irrespective of  how popular a certain disgruntled employees blog is on the intranet a company will never want to get that as top search result for someone searching about it.

It will be like training your own contract killer….:)

So what do companies do?..

Stop indexing the blogs… a highly unpopular decision leading to further back lash….

Block that page:…..Going toooo far

quietly push the HR pages up…..various search providers give this functionality especially fast esp which basically lets you give HR sites a Static boost that will surpass any amount of traffic going to the particular site…

So Now you know…while designing search solutions for intranet..Do not always look at google…remember these intents

1.Its about what we want to show rather than what user wants to see

2.Its about controlling rather than freely searching

3.Tweaking queries or simply changing them is OK

4.Its focus is to not show certain sites or show certain sites rather than cover everything..

Now you know……
Comments welcomed

More such articles at:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 things I hate about SharePoint designer

OK I will be honest, as a developer I try not to use SharePoint designer...I wont say its BAD or limited ..its Damn can create things like simple workflows in minutes which might take me a minimum of an hour ...

But still there are may call me a biased developer who leans on heavy customization :)(thats how i earn my bread and butter)...but i finally decided to list top 7 things I hate about SharePoint designer

You can also view this article at

Why you should not use SharePoint designer 2007

and many more like this at

1.You can break things very easily: Yes irrespective of how easy SharePoint designer maybe,breaking things is way to easy. A missed checkin , an accidental Zone deletion...its way to easy to run into problems. I know a person who spent 2 days figuring out why a SharePoint workflow would trigger using admin account while not by End user account. He finally figured out because a few files were checked out in SharePoint designer. I know you may argue that these problems may arise in custom deigned visual studio workflows also but the process there is little more technical eliminating such missed thing to a minimal. Sharepoint designer is scary because its too easy to use yet gives too much power to the user

2. No reusable workflows: I designed a workflow for my document library ,another department also wants it for their doc library and wants to keep it in sync with myworkflow...can i do need to recreate the workflow for them and do all updations seperately

3. No Looping in workflows:Yes its true...if you want to create a workflow which sends out email reminders to task owner untill he/she completes it,you cannot do it easily in SharePoint designer. Yes there are need to create two workflows..almost identical to do it...More on that later

4. Unghosted pages: Whenever you customize any page/page template that page basically becomes simple terms you can say that all the changes are stored in DB rather than on your file system. So if you added some new webpart zones and you want to use the same template on another sharepoint environment you CANNOT simply download the pagetemplate file from your server and upload into other server.

Where as in case of site definitions you can,because whats in document library is nothing but whats in your 12 hive

5. Inherent limitations of Site templates over Site definitions: Using sharepoint designer you can very well modify your site and create site templates but remember,site templates are linked to their site definitions tightly ie suppose you create a team site and them modify it and save it as a template called myTeamSite this new template is essentially linked to team site. Any updates by MS on team site would directly effect your Site

Where as Site definitiosn are independent entities...MS updates will have no effect on them...

6. Ok i may be repeating myself here but just that this issue needs a seperate point..think about so many diffrent webparts like data view etc that you can use in sharepoint designer...Look at the example here

here a contact list is integrated with bing maps to automatically display the map along with contact details...sounds cool..yeah it is  Suppose you followed this blog and modified the xslt etc of contact list page to display page of contact list...Now...Imagine you are a developer did this on your you want to port it to your customers will you do it?? well you go to production environment and do the exact same things with a list..Like it???

easier solution is to create a webpart ,create a list definition and add this webpart in dispform.aspx page :)

7. It wastes time: Yes you read it right..for any complex requirement its better to code rather than try figure out the logic in SharePoint designer. Yes i accept that here i may be biased like most Sharepoint develeopers...:)..

If you agree/ let me know your views

PS:Most developers I have spoken to do not like using SharePoint designer..part of the reason being it does not require any coding..its mostly configuration...and developers hate configuration...I being from the same fraternity am biased against SharePoint designer...take my views with a pinch of salt

this article is valid for MOSS and WSS 3.0 and not for Sharepoint 2010.hate to say this looks promising...

Authors and copywrite owners:
Paromita Mondal
Madhur Chadha

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New place fot sharepoint Blogging

Finally bought my own domain name and have decided to move my blogs out there

I will be expanding my Blogging now to inclide sharepoint 2010 as well as FAST Search

See my Blog for tips and tricks on Sharepoint,wss 3.0,Moss,FAST ESP an sharepoint 2010

Or copy paste this URL