Tag Archive for: Search Query Tool

Recap: SharePoint Saturday 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium

20 Apr 2015
April 20, 2015

300 attendees on a Saturday – all “SharePoint-crazy”. Its my first visit to Belgium and I must say: I am impressed of the community and the spirit here. In the following I recap SharePoint Saturday 2015 in Antwerp.




From the start at 9:00am until the official end of SPSBE (SharePoint Saturday Belgium) at around 17:30 I had good fun. I apparently had to prepare my session on this Saturday, tests my demos and optimize my slides – so I could only attend one full session (see my summary here), but there was enough time for me to talk to community members, board members and other speakers – good times, good fun.

Some of the attendees stayed for the BBQ after the event – it was nice to share some ideas, get feedback – and well, the food was nice, too!

I must say, for a free event organized by a community, this was perfectly done – there is nothing I could rant about (and that’s almost impossible, because its free, right?). Good job @BIWUG (Belgian Information Worker User Group) – I am leaving Belgium impressed.

Thanks again to all the sponsors who made the event possible!

Speakers & Sessions

20 sessions and as many speakers from around the world attracted 300 attendees – not only from Belgium. In general the conferenced covered all kind of different topics, but the main themes were Office 365 with topics like development, governance, adoption, best practices, workflows, search, apps and solutions. Good stuff!

My Session: Search-Driven Applications with SharePoint 2013

I had a really good time presenting my content regarding Search-Driven Applications with SharePoint 2013 – I uploaded my slides, but the cool stuff is in the demos and I can’t make them available:

After the talk there were like 10 to 15 questions – some of them I would love to show you here:

Q: Do Query Variables work for Office 365 / SharePoint Online?

Yes, Query Variables are awesome and do work for SharePoint Online – see a reference here.

Q: How can I recrawl SharePoint Online User Profiles?

Once you changed the mapping of the managed properties, you need to tell SharePoint Online to recrawl the profiles. There is a PowerShell for that, see Mikael’s post.

Q: How to estimate and test load patterns for SharePoint search scenarios (e.g. in a publishing scenario)?

Estimation is tough, you need a lot of experience for that. And you need to know a lot upfront about the environment, the use cases, the users, … – if you don’t know that, you need to scale, test and adjust. One possible solution to test load patterns upfront is to use Visual Studio Test Manager and use the REST url to query for results. Then you can increase the load and see what could break and how to optimize.

Q: Some Chinese documents are not index properly, at least they are not presented to certain users. Why? 

I could only guess – multi-language is a complex topic. They guys tried a lot with forced language property, but without seeing and environment, well – good luck!

Q: Why didn’t you cover Display Templates in your session

Display Templates are awesome. Search is awesome. Apparently I only had 1 hour so I could not cover that much without loosing somewhere else. Of course they are an important part of a search-driven application that presents results within SharePoint. If you want to read more about Display Templates, go read Elio’s blog or Mikael’s blog – they have pretty good articles about them. Or look at my basic example here.


I totally enjoyed it – still I am a little tired because my friend Andy (@meligo) insisted to tour me around Antwerp! Thanks for having me! Smile

To sum it all up: That was my first international SharePoint Saturday – and it won’t be my last!

See you latest next year Belgium!

SharePoint Search: What Managed Properties do my Items have? (Or: Search Query Tool v2.2. – the missing manual)

01 Jan 2015
January 1, 2015

Creating Search Driven Applications is very easy with SharePoint 2013 – sometimes.

For a really simple example you need 6 steps for SharePoint content (read detailed article here)

  1. Add some columns with values to a list
  2. Full crawl
  3. Create a Managed Property with the corresponding mapping
  4. Full Crawl
  5. Drop a Search WebPart (Search Result WebPart, Content By Search or one of the other options)
  6. Create a query that fits your needs

Bam! Easy, performant solution* and almost maintenance free (*depends on your query).

So? Where is/are the Problem(s)?

Most of the time its a challenge to create the search query (read this: Search Queries explained, 12 parts!) – for the most queries you need to understand what properties you have and can use to answer the business needs. For that you always have the same challenges:

  1. Are the items in the index already?
  2. Can you see it / who can see it?
  3. What properties are available for those items?
  4. Are the properties available on all items?
  5. How often do the items change?
  6. Ranking? Why is that item higher ranked?
  7. What should be visualized and how?
  8. Does my query work (at all)?

And of course many more.

So how to tackle some/all of the problems? Search Query Tool to the rescue!

First of all, there is one tool that gives you a head start: Search Query Tool for SharePoint 2013 (free, codeplex). It is so nice, I had to contribute some time and love, too.

In the following I will show some of the main features of it that help me almost daily:


Search Query Tool 2.2

Search Query Tool 2.2

  1. REST URL with all selected parameters – awesome to create JavaScript apps or apps outside of SharePoint
  2. Query Options – so many and really interesting options. You don’t want Phonetic Queries? There are plenty of different options here, almost all have a descriptive tooltip. Some of the fields have a tiny box right to a textbox, click on it for some useful default values. Quite handy if you don’t know how to put values in.
  3. Result Tabs – you get all the results here:
    1. Status: How many results (with and without duplicates) where delivered in what time.
    2. Raw: Unformatted JSON results (ugly, most of the time I skip that tab) – response headers are sometimes interesting in the case of an error.
    3. Primary Results: 99% of the time I am in this tab.

      Primary Results - shows the standard and selected properties

      Primary Results – shows the default or the Select Properties

    4. Refinement Results: What refiners do you get with the current query. You have to use the Refiners box in the Query Options (2) to see some results.

      What refiners would you get for the current query?

      What refiners would you get for the current query?

    5. Secondary Results: Skipping that most of the times, kinda useless IMHO.
    6. Suggestion Results: You have to use a suggestion query for that.
      Share suggests SharePoint

      Share suggests SharePoint


    7. Debug – I cover that in a future blog post.
  4. All connection options. Very useful to test search with different accounts. You can save the connection information via the menu File >> Save Connection Properties.
  5. The advanced options. I always enable the experimental features!
    1. They enable a preview in the tool for supported files (office and web pages)

      Preview for supported files (OWA is a requirement)

      Preview for supported files (OWA is a requirement)

    2. And most importantly it adds the button that I use most of the time: View all Properties
      The "magic" view all properties link

      The “magic” view all properties link

      The dialog showing all available properties

      The dialog showing all available properties

      The dialog shows all Managed Properties of the selected it. For that it needs the Property Workid, so make sure its in the Select Properties field (otherwise the tool will yell at you!).
      There are differences for SharePoint Online – maybe they will patch it so on-prem faces the same challenge. But once again Mikael Svenson has a solution for that.

Final words

Quite a lot of features for a FREE tool – but for Search challenges it’s really essential. Did I notice it has a freshness boost generator? Or did I mention that it supports the Office Graph Language (GQL), too?

Can you solve all problems with it? I hope so – if not, please drop me a comment or directly on the discussion page.

SPC14: Managing Search Relevance in SharePoint 2013 and O365

06 Mar 2014
March 6, 2014

Improve the value of search results by managing Relevance. SharePoint 2013 and O365 provide a comprehensive set of tools to manage Search Relevance. SharePoint 2013 and O365 combine and improve upon the best tools available for Fast Search and SharePoint 2010, and introduce the notion of Query Rules that allow administrators to influence relevance for a single query or sets of queries using a straightforward user interface. In this talk, we will explain how ranking works under the hood, and give hands on demonstrations of how to use query rules, result sources, XRANK, federation to external search providers, and use the rank tuning tool to improve relevance and the value of your search solutions. We will explain the Relevance Lifecycle, the iterative process of finding problem queries and fixing them that is essential to optimizing relevance, and discuss which tools are most appropriate for various situations.

My notes for “Managing Search Relevance in SharePoint 2013 and O365” by David Louis Hollembaek and Mikael Svenson.at SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas.


15 years of search experience on stage

The Problem

Standard search results lack personal relevancy and the result presentation is not that good – this can be done better.


The Plan

What can you adjust? Query? Content? Ranking? User Interface? You can adjust everything.

Goals? What do you want to achieve? Set targets.
Golden set: Create a reference set that is optimized and show that to end users. This motivates users to increase the quality – this was also part of the IA Best Practices session.

Relevancy cycle

Establish a relevancy cycle to adjust the ranking and gather feedback how that worked. Then plan what to adjust, gather feedback and improve.

New Tools

Query Rules: reformate/transform query
Dynamic Ranking Rules: reorder the result ranking
Rank Model Tuning App: a new tool by Mikael
Custom Rank Model: not covered in this session – there is some Technet articles out there.

Capturing Intent: done with Query Rules.

Demo 1: add a result block
Demo 2: add user context / segments to query rule

Search Query Tool v2

New functionalities where added in v2: XRANK freshness generator (new documents are ranked higher than older documents):

Terminals 3.4.0 (Files store)_2014-03-07_17-19-23

Explain Rank feature (why is this result ranked like this)

Terminals 3.4.0 (Files store)_2014-03-07_17-17-09

and much more. I contributed to the project – there was much more added, go try it and provide feedback!

It is a very essential tool when you do something search related – for ITPRO and DEVS.


Download is free – go grab it here.

Ranking App for O365

Mikael showed us the ranking app for O365 that was released in January – wow, good stuff. To modify the ranking in O365 you add the app to your tenant, then you need to add 11 search query and manually rank the results – than the magic happens. It autotunes the ranking set based on your feedback and this could result in a better relevancy for your users. It is O365 only so far – but there will be an on-prem version “later”. Really an interesting approach –  I would love to see that in the general search results – you don’t like your results, please down/up-vote them – that would cool.



Search was my expectation – Search was delivered. Solid presentation, good slides – I am happy with that. Roughly 400 people attended in the very last session, there is a demand for that. Very good message they transported – very good one!


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