Exploring Out of the Box Searching Capabilities in SharePoint Foundation 2013

Though it’s have been almost an year after releasing SharePoint 2013 there are quite number of capabilities that some of us may have not tried. I’m always testing out SP Foundation in various aspects as it’s one of the best software product available for free in the world.

With this post I’m trying to elaborate on Search Capabilities of SharePoint foundation 2013 which is the very first write-up to start the year 2014 as it’s just arrived. Still there are lots more to talk on foundation 2013 but yet one of the most useful capability we all found in SharePoint was Searching so let’s check this out.

Previously with SharePoint Foundation 2010 you couldn’t do much on Search customizations or any advanced stuff as it was an Enterprise edition’s feature where enterprise values are achieved but yet Microsoft gave you something called Search Server Express (which is also free) which can be integrated with SharePoint 2010 Foundation so ultimately Microsoft gave you a great searching capabilities on top of SP foundation 2010 together with Search Server Express 2010. Read my previous piece I did for Search Server Express with SP Foundation 2010 integration here. What I needed to highlight and elaborate with this was that Searching Capabilities (Search Service Application in SP 2013) in SharePoint foundation is not a hassle anymore as it comes out of the box with SharePoint Foundation 2013 that you can simply manage as same as Standard and Enterprise editions but take a note on below points that you need to be aware.

Only a single Search Service Application can be reside per farm

You cannot customize searching topology which is defined by the farm configuration wizard

Search Service Application is limited to a single server in a farm

for SharePoint 2013 Foundation you can only have one Search Service Application and you shouldn’t be able to modify the topology of the Service Application; this means that when you provision Search using the Farm Configuration Wizard it will create a default topology for you in which all roles are on a single server. So, to enforce these rules they chose to make it so that the PowerShell cmdlets would not allow you to provision the service application or run any method or cmdlet that would otherwise allow you to modify an existing topology (so you can’t change the topology created by the wizard)

Moving on to the possibilities, except above limitations you have almost every possibilities you got in Enterprise Search Application such as – Define file types | Customize Content sources | Search Scopes and quite number of more features you had in enterprise edition.

Alright, coming on to the topic and let’s start to wake up and explore this hidden giant.

I have downloaded SharePoint Foundation 2013 from Microsoft – here. Also it has few Cumulative packages already released which generally publishes together with SharePoint product release and October 2013 Cumulative is the latest so better to have it on production environments after proper testing’s as well.

As usual, copied the setup in to the test server prepared for SharePoint foundation with Windows Server 2012 and here I run. It requires the same prerequisites as SharePoint 2013 other editions so keep them ready or just hit "Install software prerequisites" from below screen you got which will install everything automatically for you if the server has the internet connectivity.

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Once prerequisites are ready, hit on the "Install SharePoint Foundation" from the setup and agree to the license terms as below and hit "continue" to go ahead

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Choose the Server type and hit Install to start the installation. For me it’s always need to be a complete one where I have the total control of Database instances etc..

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After a moment you will see the generic completion screen as below. Let the tick be there as I will be running wizard next and close.

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Let’s go ahead through Next

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Choosing the second option as I will be creating a brand new setup

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Database Server and Credentials as usual in other SP Editions and Next to proceed

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Indeed the passphrase is here as well

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Port number for central administration and Authentication type is default for me here

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The summary appears and lets hit "Next" to begin. It’s time for a cuppa folks ! . This Will take about 5-8 Minutes depends on your resources and performance.

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After a while, here we go the green light signaling you to go. I’m choosing 1st option here as I need just to elaborate the capabilities here. Starting the wizard to configure my SharePoint foundation service applications. Not the second option because of a reason that you will see after this 🙂

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And here is the giant we going to knock to wake up now. Search Services are in built for SharePoint Foundation 2013 and there is no Search Server (FAST) or Search Server express anymore. And also some more service apps are here which are given through Search Server Express in 2010 such as Secure Store, BCS etc.. This is a massive improvement and a value for foundation users.

It should prompt below window for you to define the service account. I’m using farm account for all the services as it just going to be a test.

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And after probably 8-10 minutes the completion appears as below saying that all my service applications now created.

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Lets go to Central admin and see this beauty as same as other editions. Central Administration –>Manage Service Application under Application Management

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So here are the applications finally. Quite good number of services given you for free here with new SPF 13.

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Diving in to the prime focus here, let’s get inside the search Service application. Woah !! Do you feel that you are in a Foundation environment ? I’m not , it’s has almost everything I needed.

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Let’s try to create a new Search App through UI. Oops ! This is the reason I chosen to configure Service Applications through the wizard. For foundation 2013 the option is not there to create a search Service application through UI and its only allowed single Search Service Application per farm in foundation 13.

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Diving more in to search capabilities. The ultimate goal of having a search service application is to get better search experience embedded in to our SharePoint sites indeed (the real Beauty). Moving in to the test web application I created.

Under site collection features list I have the search features enabled. Again same as enterprise.

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And also few under site features

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Then next trying to create a basic search center via Site Content –> New Site –> Choose Basic Search Template under Enterprise Category so it creates my search center.

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Further I can add search web parts to my SharePoint Foundation sites as well. Search Box | Refinement Panel etc..

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This is quite a good improvement in SPF 2013 for the audience who was waiting for. Enjoy it and Happy Days with SharePoint ahead in this New Year 2014 …… !

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