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Introducing People Search

This blog post introduces you to some of the new features in People Search in SharePoint Server 2013. In future posts, we will discuss each feature in more detail, include up-to-date screen shots, and cover additional topics. 

Query Rules

Using Query Rules, for the first time People Search is out of its silo and integrated with core results. Users are able to find People results in line with document results, and use the latter as an entry point into the full People experience. For example, searching for “Garit Vaargas” finds the correct result “Garret Vargas” and provides additional information about Garret. Users are also able to use Search Navigation to move among the different search experiences, including People Search.
 
We’ve also used Query Rules to improve the search experience for targeted types of queries in People Search, including People Name, Location, or Phone Number. For example, if you want to find People by location, a search for “Operations London” returns results for People who work in the operations department or who work on operations projects and who are located in London.
 
The following image shows an example of the Name Query Rule showing People results in line with document results. Users are able to enter the full People experience by either clicking through the Query Rule title or by using Search navigation.
Example of Name Query Ryle showing People results in line with document results
The following image shows an example of the Location query rule. Searching for “Garret London” returns all the people located in London.
Example of the Locatoin Query rule.
 
In a separate post, I’ll talk about the details of how we’ve designed each rule, and how admins can customize them.

Expertise Search

End users typically use People Search to find a subject matter expert (SME), a domain owner, or a point of contact (POC) for an issue. In the past, we relied on users  editing their My Site profiles to identify whether they were experts in an area. But, this is dependent on diligent profile management by all employees in the company. So, in this release, we focused on providing users with a default expertise search experience. What does that mean? We now use documents (Word, PowerPoint, and PDF) that are available to Search in SharePoint to identify document authors as experts. A document’s author is identified as an expert on the content mentioned in the document. We also display in the hover panel some of the documents used in expertise search.
 
In the following image, the user searches for “packaging project” and sees a block of expertise results.

Example of expertise results.
Hovering over a result in the Expertise block displays the hover panel, which shows a subset of documents that are used to identify the person as a good result. In the following image, Dorena is a good result for “packaging projects” because she’s written several relevant documents on the topic. 

Second example of Expertise results

Name Suggestions

Name suggestions is one my favorite features this release. Using this feature, we’ve introduced a simple, easy, and intuitive way to find people by their names. “Word wheeling—typing a character(s) and seeing all the names starting with that character(s), is available on all names in the profile database, and therefore also in the People index. The feature supports exact name matches and also supports “fuzzy” matches. With fuzzy name matches, the spelling is similar but not exact because of phonetic misspellings or typing errors. (For example, see the second screen shot below.)
Example of name suggestions

The following image shows an example of the fuzzy matching behavior. The search for “numan” suggests the result of “Belinda Newman”.
Example of fuzzy matching behavior

Stay tuned for a post that talks about details of the fuzzy matching feature—and let us know what you think in the comments!