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Kevin Hughes



I help people and companies be better – more effective, efficient and profitable.

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Custom Search Solution – An example

I recently had a client that needed a custom Enterprise Search solution designed for their internal SharePoint Server 2013, Enterprise environment. Many of the tasks were a bit beyond the internal skillset of their internal SharePoint team, so I wrote up a set of instructions for them. I thought they might give others a good example of how to set up a coherent Enterprise Search solution. So, I this will be the first in a multi-post series using their environment requirements as an example. In part 1 of the series (this article) we will explore the client’s environment and their requirements before diving into the solution I designed for them. In the next articles in the series we will cover the actual steps for implementation for the solution. All the screenshots are in a demo environment, not the actual client environment.

Description of the environment:

We will call the client National Company or NALCO for short. In a multi-tier SharePoint Server 2013, Enterprise environment, the client has multiple web applications, but only a single web application is considered for this solution. Within this web application, there are multiple site collections. Each site collection currently hosts one or more document libraries which are the primary document repositories used for business processes. Each of the document libraries has custom content-types associated with it and the content types have custom site columns as part of their schema. Many of the custom site columns are common in all the content types, but some of the similar ones are not based on the same data type – example: a date column in one content type is based upon the Date/Time data type and in another content type it is a Single Line of Text field. Managed Metadata has been configured at the Site Collection Scope in one or more site collections, but not at the Farm scope, which has the implication that the term sets are not available cross-site collections without compromising security. Additionally, some of the custom columns in the document libraries are not site columns, but only exist in that particular list.

To outline the needs of their solution:

  • Use an on-premises SharePoint Server 2013, Enterprise environment.

  • Need a Central Search site which will serve as a common search location and display all search results.

  • Centralize the management of metadata throughout the environment.

  • Centralize the management of content types throughout the environment.

  • Allow single place to display search results without compromising security in individual site collections.

  • Use only no-code methodologies. This does not prohibit the use of custom-designed components, only that they be manageable via the built-in interfaces and technologies (meaning only the SharePoint 2013 User Interface or SharePoint Designer 2013 and not include any “hard” code or third-party products).

  • The team implementing and managing the solution will not have Farm Administration permissions.

  • Aggregate search results of three document libraries from two different site collections into a single search result set.

Two of the document libraries are in a site collection called Document Storage or DS.

The other document library is in a site collection called Safety Data Sheets or SDS.

The DS site collection has document libraries named Product Documents and Product Bulletins. Here are screenshots of these document libraries to help understand their schema.

Overview of the Implementation Steps:

  • Step 1 – Managed Metadata Configuration – The first step in the solution is to standardize the terms used for the metadata that will be used in the document libraries for use as queryable and refinable terms.

  • Step 2 – Create and Configure a Content Type Hub –This step shall include the design and provisioning of a Content Type Hub to allow the centralized management of the content types used in multiple site collections.

  • Step 3 – Create an Enterprise Search Center – This step will outline the creation of a centralized search site which will allow search results from multiple site collections to be displayed and refined in the same location.

  • Step 4 – Configure Site Collections – This step describes the steps to configure the different site collections to be able to consume and use the content types published from the Content Type Hub.

  • Step 5 – Configure Search – This step outlines the steps necessary to configure SharePoint Search and Search components in order to be able to display search results as desired and in specific formats as required.

Reference the later articles to see the actual implementation steps.

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