Whether you are an Office 365 or an on-premise SharePoint user, you might be surprised to hear about a SharePoint search behavior that could significantly impact you. This short post explains it and tells you what you can do about it.
What We Are Trying to Achieve with SharePoint Search
It’s pretty simple. We want to use SharePoint/O365 search to create a directory of pages across our environment. So, we:
- Put standard metadata columns on the pages in a page library. Columns such as “Region” or “Platform”. We set those values to, for example, “Europe” or “tablet”.
- Configure managed properties within SharePoint/O365 Search for the metadata columns.
- Use search to find the pages based on the metadata. Specifically, we want to use the Search Results web part to create directories of pages. For example, we want to search for and display pages with “Region:Europe”.
It doesn’t work. Specifically, SharePoint Search will not find any page that is the home page of a site.
Setting Up the SharePoint Search Scenario
We’ve created three sites: A root in a site collection and two sub-sites.
Each site is identically configured. There is a “JEHPages” library in each site with three pages, as illustrated here in the root site:
The “HomePage” within each site is configured as the home page of its site.
There are two other pages—“NotHomePage1” and “NotHomePage2”—that have metadata but are not the home pages of their respective sites. In addition, “NotHomePage2” has metadata exactly the same as the home page (“HomePage”), as shown here in one of the child site’s “JEHPages” library.
Demonstrating the SharePoint Search Issue
First, let’s search by name for one of the pages that is not the home page:
|Here, things are what we would expect.
One page from each site is returned (as well as the JEHPages library display page).
Note that the URLs for the pages are returned.
Now, let’s search by name for the home page:
|Here, again, things are pretty much what we would expect.
One page from each site has been returned (as well as the “JEHPages” library display page), but notably, the URL for the site has been provided for each home page.
But, if we start searching using the metadata, things start to work in unexpected ways.
Using the managed property, we search for “HomePageC:Yes”.
|Here, things are not as we would expect.
HomePageC has been set to “Yes” on two pages in each site, but only one (the non-home page) is returned!
This “can’t find the home page based on metadata” behavior is consistent regardless of the metadata for which we are searching.
Not only that, but if I go to the “JEHPages” library and use Microsoft’s standard “Find” box in the library, I suddenly can’t find my home page!
Microsoft: “Normal”, “Expected” Behavior
According to Microsoft Support (SR#616021594549282), who reproduced the issue and discussed it with the SharePoint “back end team”, this is “normal” and “expected” behavior because a site home page is “special”.
I suspect that you share my surprise that you can change something in your user interface configuration (the designated home page) and SharePoint’s search engine will no longer find certain items. I also suspect that you share my surprise that this behavior is considered “normal” and “expected”.
I imagine Information Technology professionals, such as many of you reading this blog, explaining to clients who pay us to make SharePoint successful, that they can’t find the home page in their library because it is the home page.
It’s not a good conversation.
In this age when search-enabled, metadata-driven applications are promoted, it is astonishing that this restriction on finding pages would be considered “normal” and “expected” behavior.
We need a better solution.
Something Simple and Easy You Can Do to Help Fix This
Fortunately, Microsoft provides a process by which we can express our opinion on this behavior and, hopefully, get it addressed.
The SharePoint Team provides a “Got an Idea?” site to which we may submit SharePoint ideas and vote for their implementation.
Please click here if you would like to vote to have this issue addressed.
We welcome your comments and questions below, and when you vote here!
With our joint efforts with Microsoft, I look forward to making SharePoint better.