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SharePoint 2013 part 3 – Document, records management and search

The big news with search is that FAST search, formerly an ECAL feature with additional licencing is now included in standard SharePoint search. This brings several benefits: thumbnail preview of search results, improvements in the search algorithm and results as well as a new Query engine that tries to work out what it was the user was actually searching for.

The thumbnail preview, aka Hover Panel, looks incredibly useful with preview of Word, Excel, Video and Presentations. Based on the search term used it will also show relevant section headings from a Word document or relevant slides from a Presentation with the ability to jump directly to the content inside the document from the search results page. In Excel, the preview shows charts and named tables – impressive!

Search “verticals” are extended to include Everything, People, Conversations, Videos and Reports. New result types include Newsfeed posts and videos. Search facets now allow a user to filter by an author of their choice, as well as a new slider for the Modified Date. Search has a useful “refinder” feature now included that remembers relevant searches the user has made in the past. This should be particularly useful as research showed this as a common behavioural pattern :)

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the new Open Library feature, which opens the library that contains the document appearing in search results – not because it isn’t cool but because this is the second time Microsoft have added a feature to SharePoint that we have had available to our clients for years. We’ve had Open Library since 2007 as well as our faceted library search (which Microsoft introduced in SharePoint 2010). Note to check the Cloud2 offices in Bradford and Ferriby for bugs :)

Onto document management, document libraries in My Sites now become SkyDrive PRO libraries, and SkyDrive ultimately replaces SharePoint Workspace as the offline documents client for SharePoint. Since, SkyDrive won’t support SharePoint Lists offline, Microsoft will be releasing a patch to SharePoint Workspace 2010 for legacy offline list content. 

No real changes to the metadata model which was improved significantly in SharePoint 2010 of course. This suits us just fine at Cloud2, as we have compliance and governance metadata pre-developed in Hadron 8020 with the ability to deliver extended document lifecycle compliance in our Workflow Pack with specific workflows for Read Receipt, smart Expiry notifications, Archiving and Multi-stage approvals. We’ve also had fun importing external taxonomies e.g. NICE’s clinical taxonomy

In terms of Records Management improvements, SharePoint now comes with Site Retention policies to complement IMP settings, allowing entire sites to be put on hold, archived and/or deleted as required. Another new feature is Site Mailboxes which replace the earlier Library email feature which was a bit pants in SharePoint 2010.

To summarise, the end user experience for finding documents and information should be much better with the Search enhancements. The SkyDrive integration should work well in time (the PRO version is a little buggy at the moment) both from a usability perspective as well as because Microsoft are smartly positioning more of their corporate features with consumer branding that non IT Pro’s may also recognise e.g. Workspace becomes SkyDrive, Lync becomes Skype PRO…

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