SharePoint Modern Re-Search

Currently, modern SharePoint site pages have search boxes embedded within the chrome of the page, although they are not always obvious and not always in the same place. The position varies depending on the site template used and this can be confusing for users.

But that’s about to change. To address this inconsistency, Microsoft have decided to lift the search box out of the page chrome altogether and add it to the app bar. At the time of writing this change is in targeted release and so will only show up for customers who have opted into the programme.

On the face of it, this a really good idea because now, access to search is exposed everywhere and from the same place, the app bar. In fact, the app bar doesn’t even belong to SharePoint, it’s an O365 artefact, and so search can now potentially be accessed in a consistent way right across all services in your tenancy. It’s already in OneDrive for example.

The only problem is that, where it is now looks really ugly IMHO and as far as I can tell there is no switch you can flick to turn it off and no configuration options either. I really hate it when Microsoft (or anyone else for that matter) imposes design decisions on us without giving us any configuration options at all. Whilst the intent is a good one, the implementation is ripe for improvement. Hopefully they can do something a bit more elegant before it reaches general release but actually I doubt it and suspect that this will just be yet another change we’ll just have to suck up!

Now don’t get me wrong I love modern search

I think the new search experience in SharePoint Modern is a marvel and much improved over the old classic search experience. However, one thing that I think is missing, is the ability to add a search text box to the content area of a modern site page. Now, you might argue why would we need such a thing, given that access to search is now (or soon will be) everywhere – as I just explained its headed for the app bar.

However, there are a few things to consider. First, I’ve lost count of the number of customers who want to set up a page that is dedicated to providing a search service. “Just give me a simple, Google-like search page”, they cry! Actually, with classic SharePoint, if you set up a Search Center site, that’s exactly what you got. And you can still do that of course but then you’re in the old search experience and there is a marked difference in the UI if the rest of you site is using SharePoint modern.

The other thing that the old SharePoint search gave you and which you no longer have, is the ability to pre-filter your search criteria. For example, you might want to let the search engine know that you are searching for a document within the current collection of sites within the same hub, before submitting your query and not after. You see the new search box is simplicity itself, it’s just a text box. The model is query and then refine. Look at the search results I get when typing in a simple keyword and submitting the query.

There are 3 dimensions to the search query that we can now play with to refine or expand our search results:

  • Search Scope: The breadcrumb like control at the top of the result page tells be that the scope of me search is currently focused on content within the local site only. If I click up the tree, I can widen the scope, first to the hub (assuming that the site is part of a hub) and then to the entire organisation, which means anything in my O365 tenancy and not just in SharePoint.
  • Content Scope: By default, the search results will return any matching content but we can use the quick filter tabs to refine the results to return just documents (files), sites or news (site pages promoted as news articles). If we widen the scope to Organization then we also get the option to refine our search to people as well.
  • Filters: A dynamic set of additional filter options are available from a pop-up side panel when you click the Filters link, which allow you to refine the results further based on time (modified date) or other options such as file type, when the Files filter tab is selected for example.

All of this great and I love it but I might also want the option of doing things the other way around. That is to say, set up some of filter criteria before submitting my search term query. That way I might find what I am after more quickly, meaning less clicks and higher productivity. In facts as a site designer I might want to take control of the default filter settings for my user on their behalf. If my site was part of a hub that contains corporate documentation it might make sense to have the default search scope to be the hub and the default content scope to be files.

The Kaboodle Scoped Search Box Web Part

To address these scenarios, we built a custom search web part called the Kaboodle Scoped Search Box web part. This article is not about how to download, install use or configure the web part as that information has already been provided on the product page. Just head on over there and browse that information and get started – it’s completely free.

In this article, I just wanted to call out why we built this web part and hope that you find it useful. It is not intended to be a replacement for the standard search box but rather it just gives you more options.

As always, all we ask is for is constructive feedback on how to improve our products and make your SharePoint experience a better one.

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