Enterprises upgrading to SharePoint 2010 and using Windows 7 for their desktop operating system should look into the federated search capabilities provided by these products. In short, Windows 7 provides the ability for someone to easily move between searching their desktop and SharePoint-based content, reducing the need to switch between windows (such as a Windows Explorer window and a web browser), which may disrupt their flow of work.
This is enabled by Microsoft’s use of the OpenSearch standard. Windows 7 (acting as an OpenSearch consumer) displays results returned by SharePoint 2010 (acting as an OpenSearch producer). It does this by:
- Receiving a typed search query from the desktop user.
- Reformatting this query into a URL using a predefined pattern, which results in the search query being passed to SharePoint.
- Fetching the page from this pattern-based URL via HTTP, which is serviced by SharePoint. The contents of this page are the SharePoint search results in OpenSearch XML format.
- Displaying these results within the Windows desktop environment.
Note: this will also work with other OpenSearch-compliant systems and is not limited to just SharePoint. For example, the Bing search engine provides result in OpenSearch. Twitter does as well. For that matter, any enterprise application providing a RESTful interface could likely be modified to support OpenSearch.
To try this myself I pointed a web browser at a SharePoint 2010 site containing slides from our Catalyst 2009 conference and searched for “data”.
At the top of the search results are three icons. Clicking the right-most icon results in downloading a search connector that will add this SharePoint site as a new location to your Windows 7 favorites.This connector describes characteristics of the OpenSearch service SharePoint offers (e.g., the pattern for formatting the search URL). The picture below shows which icon opens the search connector.
After clicking the search connector icon and letting it download and install, I issued the same search through Windows 7, which returned the same results. This shouldn’t be surprising because they are both coming from SharePoint over HTTP and are using the same identity (so the results are security-trimmed).
Burton IT1 subscribers: This and other SharePoint 2010 content management topics are covered in the report “An Early Assessment of SharePoint 2010’s Content Management and Search Capabilities.” In addition, look for my report on desktop search to be released soon.
Links to resources:
- Developing for Windows: Windows 7 Federated Search
- How to Integrate Bing into Windows 7 in Three Minutes or Less
- Search the enterprise from Windows 7 (SharePoint Server 2010) – TechNet