Friday, May 23, 2008

SharePoint V3: Search Considerations for Choosing Yes No Column Type

I was working on a search customization a while back, displaying search results in a grid view. I encountered a design decision that required that I step back and change the column type I was using for some of the Yes/No columns in the site collection.

One lesson I learned is that when you are deciding on a which column types to use, especially Yes/No columns, keep search close at mind because it will impact search downstream. Ideally, if your columns will be leveraged by managed properties and used in search scopes to help users fine tune their queries, then keep in mind how users think.

For example, I had some Yes/No columns that I originally set up as Yes/No Checkboxes. I created managed properties for these columns but then realized...nobody is going to search on 0 and 1, they are going to search on yes and no. E.g. Give me all my ice cream sundae options where vanilla ice cream = yes...not where vanilla ice cream = 1.

Anyway, there are at least four common ways to achieve Yes/No in a SharePoint column:

Choice Radio
Choice Drop Down
Choice Checkbox
Yes/No Checkbox

The table below compares each of these:

As a result of doing this comparison, I have been using choice drop down more often than not in lists and libraries where Yes/No values are required for metadata. Even though the Yes/No checkbox may more appealing to users filling out the metadata, I think the drop down wins when you weigh in the search considerations.

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