Document Type Query: Okay for Horseshoes, Not for Real Life

August 17, 2009 published a tip for limiting a SharePoint query to a “document type”. The tip was a query string that looked like this: ContentType:\”Company  Document”. The result list displays Microsoft Office files from Excel and Word. Okay, this is close enough for SharePoint horseshoes but not for my real life query game.

A document type has to be tagged at a meaningful level of granularity. In the distant past in the commercial databases with which I was involved, we used an explicit field called “File Type”. The idea was that a human initially and then later a software method identified the type of file and plugged in a specific tag for that File Type. The person looking for a specific File Type such as a newspaper article or a monograph could find only those documents using the File Type descriptor in the query.

You can see a more pragmatic way of assigning File Type in Google. There are two methods available to anyone using the free Web search. The first is navigating to and picking one of the collections. These categories such as Images and Shopping are, in a sense, narrowing the result set to a File Type. Images with various file extensions such as jpg and structured product data in the form of a product description, image, and price, among other data elements.

A more fine grained method is available from the Google advanced search page.

google file type

The Google approach, in my opinion, is superior to the “document type” method for SharePoint. If you poke around in SharePoint you can create more precise queries. For these methods to work, in my experience, life is much easier if you skip the SharePoint internal tools and go directly to a third party system. You can locate add ins and third party tools by navigating to the Microsoft Partner Network. There are lots of options which suggests that some Microsoft partners see the native SharePoint tools as an opportunity.

Stephen Arnold, August 17, 2009


One Response to “Document Type Query: Okay for Horseshoes, Not for Real Life”

  1. Corey Roth on August 17th, 2009 2:20 pm

    In the specific example, I was detailing, the user was looking for specific types of documents with metadata assigned to it not for a particular file extension. These content types represent things like invoices, reports, or permits, not word, excel, or PDF documents. Enterprise Search can also query on file extension as well using the FileExtension keyword.


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