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More Ways to Maximize SharePoint's Out-of-the-Box Features

  • September 17, 2008
  • By Daan De Brouckere & Raj Agarwal
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SharePoint as a platform offers an immense amount of out-of-the-box capabilities that can be harnessed by understanding and taking the right approach to the business requirements. This article is a continuation of "How to Maximize SharePoint Out-of-the-Box Features" and walks through three additional scenarios on leveraging SharePoint out-of-the-box capabilities to solve real-world business problems. It reinforces the importance of understanding the business problem before contemplating a solution. Like the last article, the approach it to tackle a real world scenario by formulating the problem statement, the solution, and a way to take the solution to the next level.

You can view the article "How to Maximize SharePoint Out-of-the-Box Features" from this link.

The SharePoint functionality addressed in this article covers features such as SharePoint security, integration of My Sites with Active Directory, and extending SharePoint search discussed in "How to Maximize SharePoint Out-of-the-Box Features." Before diving into the three real-world scenarios, make sure you understand these basic features.

Basic SharePoint Features

Security Permissions

Within SharePoint, permissions are tied either to individuals or groups. By leveraging the standard SharePoint behavior, you can choose to give individuals and groups access to sites, document libraries, lists, and items in those lists among other things. Once you've chosen to give an individual access to a specific list, you also must specify what kind of access they will have. This is called the permission level. By default, SharePoint has defined some basic permission levels that allow you to define broadly how much access is being given to the individual or group. (See Figure 1)

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 1: Edit Permissions page

SharePoint Search

The article on "How to Maximize SharePoint Out-of-the-Box Features" walks through some of the capabilities of SharePoint search. Scenario 1 of this article demonstrates the importance of leveraging search in an enterprise. Providing the users with the capability to search is just half the battle. Providing them the most relevant search results is the key to successful enterprise search integration.

My Sites

In our experience of implementing SharePoint, regardless of the type of organization, the topic of My Sites has consumed more discussion time than planned. Some organizations are eager to discontinue the use of personal file shares and leverage the new technology, whereas others want to understand how to disable the features completely.

Beyond providing users with a personal portal to store their documents and other information assets, My Sites provide a way for users to discover information about each other. My Sites have both "public" and "private" pages. The "public" pages can be used to display a person's projects, his coworkers, and his areas of expertise. The same powerful site management and security features apply to My Sites as they do in other SharePoint sites.

Now that you understand the basics of these features, it's time to explore how to apply some configuration magic to achieve functionality that would traditionally have been assumed to only be possible by customization or programming.

Scenario 1: How to Create Search Scopes to Narrow Search Results to a File Share

The problem

A construction equipment dealership faces the challenge of being able to search through large quantities of old invoices that are currently placed on a file share. The organization has taken the lead in designing the current intranet on SharePoint as well as using it as a collaborative environment for their new invoices. The Accounting department needs to access their older invoices for data entry and account reconciliation purposes.

Having thousands of invoices stored on a file share poses a challenge to effectively finding any specific invoice on a timely manner. This leads to reduced efficiency and many hours spent on a weekly basis to reorganize the file structure on the file share to match the current project needs.

The solution

SharePoint search scopes can be leveraged to provide an efficient solution that gives the user the ability to perform full-text searches on old invoices stored on file shares. These search scopes appear to all users in the dropdown box next to the portal search box.

SharePoint Search scopes are defined by rules. Rules are typically limited to specific topics and content sources that are commonly useful to an organization. Search scopes are used to provide narrow search results to users upon executing a search query. They can be created at a SharePoint farm level (shared) within the Shared Service Provide SSP or a Site Collection level (local) within the settings. Shared search scopes can be reused in any Site Collection in the farm, whereas local search scopes can only be used in the Site Collection that they were created.

In this particular example, the content source will contain a rule that will specify a file share as a content source to be indexed and full-text searchable. Follow the steps below to create a custom search scope that searches contents on a file share:

  1. Follow Scenario 2 above and in Step 5 select file share to create a custom content source that indexes a specific file share.
  2. Type the location of the file share in the Start Address field.
  3. The next step is to use the custom content source to create a custom search scope.
  4. To create a "Shared" search scope, open the SharePoint Central Administration and go to the SSP.
  5. Click on Search Setting under the Search options (see Figure 2).

  6. Click here for a larger image.

    Figure 2: Search settings in SSP

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