One of the most popular blog post on my site is, curiously, about the lack of wildcard searching in SharePoint out of the box. This, as it happens, is a bit of a simplification, and I’d like to be a bit clearer – even if it is more complicated.
- Out of the box SharePoint does not have a way of searching for “App*” and getting all results such as “Apple”, “Application”, and so on. This is the wildcard search I was on about before.
- You can do a wildcard search on a particular metadata property. “Title:App*” would return items with a title that contained “Apple”, “Application”, and so on. The down side is, you have to know the property you want to search on, and you have to know its name, which isn’t always easy or viable for users.
- SharePoint Search service does actually support wildcard searching – just there is no way of using it with the out of the box controls. Essenially, it’s a problem of the user interface. The search service supports 3 different ways of querying it. This is why Corey Roth wrote his wildcard search webpart (on codeplex), and I’m sure there are others. He explains why he wrote it here, and what you give up by using Full Text SQL queries.
So, in short, if you’re able to do some custom development (or use Corey’s web part), and if you’re willing to trade off some other areas of functionality, you can get wildcard searching – but it’s not just out-of-the-box.
All of this is explained in ‘Inside the Index and Search Engines: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server’ by Tisseghem and Fastrup. I highly recommend it for developers working with Search.