SharePoint can have Wildcard searching…

One of the most popular blog post on my site is, curiously, about the lack of wildcard searching in SharePoint out of the box. This, as it happens, is a bit of a simplification, and I’d like to be a bit clearer – even if it is more complicated.

  • Out of the box SharePoint does not have a way of searching for “App*” and getting all results such as “Apple”, “Application”, and so on. This is the wildcard search I was on about before.
  • You can do a wildcard search on a particular metadata property. “Title:App*” would return items with a title that contained “Apple”, “Application”, and so on. The down side is, you have to know the property you want to search on, and you have to know its name, which isn’t always easy or viable for users.
  • SharePoint Search service does actually support wildcard searching – just there is no way of using it with the out of the box controls. Essenially, it’s a problem of the user interface. The search service supports 3 different ways of querying it. This is why Corey Roth wrote his wildcard search webpart (on codeplex), and I’m sure there are others. He explains why he wrote it here, and what you give up by using Full Text SQL queries.

So, in short, if you’re able to do some custom development (or use Corey’s web part), and if you’re willing to trade off some other areas of functionality, you can get wildcard searching – but it’s not just out-of-the-box.

All of this is explained in ‘Inside the Index and Search Engines: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server’ by Tisseghem and Fastrup. I highly recommend it for developers working with Search.

SharePoint can have Wildcard searching…

8 thoughts on “SharePoint can have Wildcard searching…

  1. The other common one I get is with People Results and alphabetical listings to mimic the Phone Book it replaced rather than “social distance” and “relevance”.

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  2. Ontolica Wildcard Search for SharePoint and Search Server was written by Fastrup to solve this problem. It works with people search and provides the rolodex alphabetical listing mentioned above.

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  3. Indeed, and that certainly looked like the prime option for wildcard search – but it means spending money on something that many customers expect out-of-box.

    Also, as Jeremy linked here (http://www.novolocus.com/2008/05/29/sharepoint-search-doesnt-have-wildcard-searching/), it did seem that there were problems with getting support for Ontolica. I’d heard/read as much elsewhere. I don’t know if that was just one reseller – I note that the site you are from also selling Ontolica, so if the support problems have been dealt with, then great!

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  4. We are implementing a solution for one of our clients. They are insisting that wldcard searches be available for free… we have implemented for them prefix wildcard search but they also need suffix and infix wildcards. Any siggestion on how we can mkeet their requirements will be appreciated… Michael

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  5. See the third bullet point above. There is a Codeplex project to provide that, so it’s available for free – but understand that you’ll lose some bits of out of the box functionality too.

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  6. Doh! Sharepoint is such a great product. It would be so nice if there was wildcard search out of the box. Like a cherry on top of the ice cream!

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    1. Well, the good news is that in SharePoint 2010 Search has been overhauled – and I’m pretty sure there is wildcard searching.

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