Understanding Searching in WSS

To make Web site searching available to knowledge workers through WSS, the back-end database implemented must be SQL Server 2000. Using the MSDE back-end does not provide this functionality. WSS uses the SQL Server 2000 full-text searching feature to search for Web site content.

The search engine on a Windows 2003 server can create a search index on a per virtual server basis. This means that search is either turned on or off for all top-level Web sites and subsites on a particular virtual server. Subsites inherit the search settings from parent sites. If search has not been enabled for a virtual server, the search links will not appear in the Web sites that reside on that virtual server.

Searching Features for Web Site

Another way to get searching features for Web site content is to implement SharePoint Portal Services 2003. In fact, SPS adds several search features not available to SQL Server 2000, including survey lists, attachments to list items, and Office 2003 file properties (such as "Author").

When full-text search is enabled in Windows SharePoint Services, a new empty catalog is created by default. Content is added to this catalog as it is added to the particular Web site. Aside from enabling and disabling full-text search, any search management or monitoring must be done from within SQL Server 2000 with the SQL Server administration tools.

When users search SharePoint sites by using SQL Server full-text searching, the search is performed by using a FREETEXT statement. Using FREETEXT allows searching by intent—all terms are stemmed, so that the query looks for all inflectional forms of each query term. For example, if a user queries for "construct", the query also returns results including "construction", "constructed", "constructing", and so on.

Although WSS with SQL Server 2000 is an appropriate solution to provide search capabilities to small and medium sized organizations, it is important to understand the limitations that this implementation might pose to large server farm type deployments. Search catalogs in SQL Server 2000 can use up to 40 percent of the hard disk space that data uses. Moreover, there is a hard limit of 256 search catalogs per server. There will be performance issues when a search catalog table reaches one million rows.

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