Tag Archives: search

SharePoint Hybrid Search and Crawled Properties

Hybrid search with SharePoint and Office 365 is key. It’s an integral piece in any large migration strategy as well as creating an enterprise search experience by letting users search for on-prem content in O365 when setup correctly.

Hybrid search has been out for quite some time now, but it appears a problem, new or not, has arrived with your crawled properties. (I think it’s a newer issue, but no one else thinks so.)

The problem is that any fields/properties which are crawled on-prem, from SharePoint sites or custom sources like Salesforce (through BA Insight’s sweet connectors), any custom properties, may not appear for you in Office 365.

In my case, crawling Salesforce highlighted this problem. I could then recreate the problem with an on-prem SharePoint site.

After a successful crawl, going to the Search Schema in Office 365 Search doesn’t show the properties as expected. You can check the properties in the search center on-prem and see them there, but not in Office 365. I opened a ticket with Microsoft SharePoint Server team, not the O365 team (anything outside of O365, even hybrid, is outside of their purview). They spent a couple of weeks recreating and troubleshooting this to find the fix.

The solution is to log into Office 365 with the service account your on-prem search service is using. In my case, logging into O365 Admin with domain\spsearch allowed me to see these missing properties. I could then create Managed Properties and then all users could use the data. That’s it! Your service account doesn’t need any licenses, just admin privileges.

I don’t like this solution since it’s a service account, and as a service account, it’s for services, not users to actually use. So I posted the issue on UserVoice, I’d love your vote!

Also, if you have a minute, up vote my other UserVoice about the overall hybrid experience.

‘Til next time, Happy SharePointing!

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How to work with large lists in Office 365 SharePoint Online

What’s a large list? Anything over 5,000 items.

Why is this such a low limit?

Great question, and Microsoft does a good job explaining it in their help documents:

To minimize database contention SQL Server, the back-end database for SharePoint, often uses row-level locking as a strategy to ensure accurate updates without adversely impacting other users who are accessing other rows. However, if a read or write database operation, such as a query, causes more than 5,000 rows to be locked at once, then it’s more efficient for SQL Server to temporarily lock the entire table until the database operation is completed.

When the whole table is locked, it prevents other users from accessing the table. If this happens too often, then users will experience a degradation of system performance. Therefore, thresholds and limits are essential to help minimize the impact of resource-intensive database operations and balance the needs of all users.

Do you think you’re going to exceed 5,000 items?

There’s a few things you can do before you exceed 5k, which will make life a lot easier.

Create indexes! Indexes are pockets of focused data that render results much faster (very laymen terms here). Searching for ‘bob’ against a name field is faster if that field is indexed.

Office 365 boasts that it will automatically create indexes, sadly I’ve come across some large lists without indexes, nothing created. Reached out to Office 365 support to create some, I’ll let you know if they actually do (requested a few weeks ago!).

Look for fields that you’ll be using to create views and index those. Think broadly like categories, dates, departments, etc. The ID field IS indexed automatically out of the box. Otherwise, create some more indexes.

I’m over 5,000 items, now what?

In the past, working with SharePoint installed on-premises, you could override the limit and go higher than 5k and keep on truckin. If you wanted to stay within Microsoft’s recommendations, there are opportunities to open up maintenance windows to allow bulk operations on lists larger than 5k.

In Office 365, we don’t have that flexibility. Microsoft actually has a list limit of 30,000,000 (30 million) items. 30M!?! That’s far over their definition of a large list. But the list view limit is 5k (.01%). Weird but I guess I understand why.

So what do we do? We have a few options, depending on your needs.

Users need to find records to update or reference

Create smaller collections of data.

If you’re fortunate enough to get your fields indexed, you’ll still need to keep your views under 5k items. You can have hundreds of thousands of items in your list, but you can’t serve up more than 5k items at a time to your users.

Using your indexed columns, create your filtered views. You’ll notice that your columns will be labeled as (Indexed):

indexed columns in a view

PLEASE NOTE that just because you filter on an indexed field does NOT mean you’ll be under 5k items. Also, you can filter on a non-indexed field IF you include a filter for an indexed field, which by itself would return less than 5k items. For example, consider a list with 10k items:

  • Filter State (Indexed) by ‘Connecticut’, and you get back 6k items. Filtering by City (not-indexed) ‘Hartford’ might return 400 items, but because the indexed filter returns over 5k, you can’t perform additional non-indexed filters against the data.
  • Filter State (Indexed) by ‘Massachusetts’, and you get 4,900 items, then you can filter by City ‘Boston’ and get your subset of 400 items.

The magic of the ID. The ID column is automatically indexed, out of the box, even though it doesn’t show it in filtering. Sometimes if you need to find specific data you can create a view with a range of IDs and get your items. You can also create a view that shows all data, sans filter, but sorted by ID, that will work because that column is indexed.

This is great, but if you don’t have indexes…

Search is awesome.

Search can handle your list, and a gazillion of other records of data. Once the item is indexed, you can search for it pretty easily.

For specific business cases, like a call center for instance, you can create a ‘search application’ in SharePoint to allow call agents to find exactly what they’re looking for, by searching for specific data points like casenumber:1234, or callername:Bob. Some of this functionality would usually be done at the list level using column filters and such, but due to the mass amount of data, search is the answer.

I’ll cover more on creating a search application in my next post, I promise. For now, just try searching for your content, should come back for you.

Users need to report on the data

This is the biggest pain in the butt by far. Managers and teams want to see some sort of reporting, like how many calls in the last week, how many from a certain state, etc. Normally we could fudge this with the out of the box list views, but alas, there’s too much data. Instead we can use additional tools to get this data and report on it.

Microsoft Access is an option, though I don’t like it. If you’re looking for a fast solution, connect your local Access database to SharePoint and suck down that list. You can create reports and even export easily to Excel. This option does require your users to have Access installed to view the data (<– the reason I don’t like it)

Power BI is by far the better option (I know, it all depends on requirements). You can point PowerBI to your huge SharePoint list, it will take time to import it all (I imported 300,000 items in about 45 minutes) but once it’s there, you’re golden. You can even setup a nightly refresh so your data is fresh every day when you come in. Awesome sauce right? See below

Reporting on large lists

Sharing PowerBI reports is easy through the standard Office 365 Share experience. According to Microsoft, PowerBI Pro is only available for E5 licenses, but I’m on an E3 and I can do a ton. E5 does offer more functionality but just pulling in data, creating reports and sharing, is doable on E3.

That’s a wrap! Let me know if I’m missing something, I’d love to hear your war stories. ‘Til next time, Happy SharePointing!

Before You Make SharePoint Public

Today I presented at the first 24-Hour SharePoint Conference! Thank you all for attending. My session was prerecorded, which was a little odd to record a session without an audience, but it was worth it. I had a lot of fun doing it and I had a great turn out. Thanks again for joining!

You can watch it in its entirety below. The deck is just below there, and I threw some of the questions below as well, along with the animated GIF from the video. Enjoy!

Video

[youtube http://youtu.be/5a-9BRIQU-E]

Presentation

Great Questions

I had some great questions during the session, thanks to all who attended. Some questions I received during the session:

Jared:  who’s moderating this beast? Christian Buckley again?
Mark:  this one is non anchored
Mark:  Keep the questions comign though
Jared:  That’s poor planning, David Lozzi will definitely require supervision
Mark:  lol
Mark:  let see…
Me:   I’ll be ok

 

Amy:  David – Do you only need licensing for the person or persons building the site?
Me:  if hosting on-premises?
Amy:  online
Eduard:  online limit: 1 person – 1 public site
Eduard:  online 100 person – 1 public site
Me:  SharePoint Online or O365 will have the licenses included, however i’m not sure… thanks Eduard
Me:  i have some links in the references for comparing the versions of O365 and SP ONline
Eduard:  so you need only 1 licence to run online public facing site
Jared:  Amy – for public facing site you just need 1 license
Jared:  That’s what we have for our User Group site.. Just need licenses for those that are logging in to make changes.

 

Eduard:  friendly urls is only on prem?
Me:  Not on Public site for SharePoint Online, you can use it on your private sites
Eduard:  sure

 

Pavan:  Question: Intend to convert a public facing .net site to a SharePoint public facing site, currently we have SP 2010 Enterprise, so my question is do i need any extra licenses to have anonymous access available?
Jared:  Pavan – if you’re hosting it then yes.. You’ll want to talk about SharePoint for Internet with your MS Rep
Me:  Great question Pavan. I completely forget the licensing model for SP2010. I remember in 2007, maybe 2010, that there was an Internet Connector license for making SharePoint public. MS has gone away with that for 2013, maybe for 2010?
Me:  I recommend chatting with your MS rep to clarify

 

Eduard:  Are there ana advantages in terms of SEO between on prem and online?
Me:  @Eduard page SEO is the same, sitemap is there. Online doesn’t have managed navigation
Me:  For me that’s a big loss for SEO
Eduard:  a meen to remeber that managed navigation have also drawbacks to SEO
Me:  @Eduard, what drawbacks?
Eduard:  as far as I remeber, if you have a content like wiki, that is highly interconnected – and now you start build up a managed navigation – the links are different
Me:  Ah, good point.
Me:  just a little more tedious to manage
Eduard:   yeahh

 

Oh right, and in the video I used this Working On It animation:

Working On It

 

Thanks again!