Setting up Federated Searching in MSSX

In Microspeak, a "federated" search is one that leverages another search engine. For example, a Vista user could access a Windows 2008 machine with Windows Search 4.0 and leverage the search index on the 2008 box. In Search Server 2008 Express, you can set up your searches to leverage a search engine on the Internet - within limits.

The general procedure is a bit complicated, but in outline it goes like this: Go to the search admin page and click "Federated Locations" under "Queries and Results" in the navigation pane. Click "New Location" and enter a name, display name, and description. Configure the "trigger" that controls when MSSX should send a query to this new location (I chose "always"). Choose a location type, such as OpenSearch. Then create a bogus search and paste the URL into the template field, replacing the bogus search term with the syntax {searchterms}. Finally, you have to go to the Search Center and edit the web part that governs the right side of the display where you want your federated search results to appear. This all takes a lot longer than I have described, the first time you do it, but Microsoft provides a video on www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch that will help. I tried it with Wikipedia and it worked nicely.

The "within limits" part pertains to OpenSearch. TechNet, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Yahoo (among several others) all support this standard, which specifies a format for returning search results much like an RSS feed, with XML. Google web search, alas, does not do so directly - although I'm told you can do some coding and create a Sharepoint page that will process Google search results in such a way that MSSX can display them. (You can download .FLD files [Federated Location Definition] from Microsoft and import them into MSSX for certain OpenSearch sites that return results in the RSS/XML format that MSSX expects.)

Hey, Google, how about offering that capability too? You're hiring virtually every graduate of Stanford and Berkley the minute they remove their cap and gown; put a couple of programmers on this task for a day or so. I don't want to have to write code to get MSSX to work with your search engine!

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