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Project Search 2.0: Faceted Search

Finding information across the web is the most fundamental use case of the web. Without search engines and basic navigation, nobody would be able to locate anything.  The search application as you know it on SCN has evolved very little since the launch of SDN back in 2004. We have received numerous comments, feedback, and complaints about the search application, and we are also sitting on loads of industry reports, usability studies, and best practices.  So, it is now far past due for us to deploy a new Search application, one which not only looks better but one which will allow you to navigate search results based on assigned metadata, similar to product searches on Amazon and other such websites. On June 28, 2009 after our system has been updated, Search 2.0 will be live.

First, before we go any further, let me answer an obvious question: what is it about this project that makes it a 2.0 product? I wish I could take the credit (or blame) for this, but this name was selected long before I started working at SAP. As was stated in the leading paragraph, Search really is a vital part of the web experience, and we have been well aware of the deficiencies of our search application for several years. So, about three years ago, in light of everything else being called a 2.0 product, and given that this new Search application will be the second version of the application, someone coined the term Search 2.0 for this project.

Here are some of the new features present in this Search application:

  • Faceted search filters based on metadata. Simply put, this is a means of navigating search results based on certain attributes that have been assigned to the content on SCN. For example, if you are looking for the term “business intelligence,” the search application would retrieve all results but also allow me to refine the search based on category. In this case, I am interested in Support Notes. Once selected, I can then choose from the list of available business intelligence components: BOJ-ERQ-CR, BOJ-BIP, BOJ-ERQ-XL, and etc. It’s really quite easy to use.
  • The user interface has been dramatically improved. If you recall last year we implemented some dramatic styling changes across the site, but we neglected to address the content regions of the page. Search 2.0 has a new look and feel with respect to content styling. The search results are now much easier to read, and page navigation is clearly defined.
  • From time to time our editors identify content that is important and relevant to the community, and would like to make this content more accessible. We have now implemented functionality referred to as Best Bets or Editors Picks. As you search for information on SCN, content that has been tagged with certain keywords and retrieved as part of your search will appear at the top of the search results.
  • Our partners are an integral part of the SAP ecosystem, providing a strong foundation of support and collaboration that fosters unparalleled value and mutual business success for our customers, our partners, and SAP. Search 2.0 delivers the ability to surface partner content and promotional materials and links in the right hand side of the search results, all of which is based on the underlying metadata.


All-in-all, I think you will greatly appreciate the improvements to the Search application. Unfortunately, it has taken too many years to get this launched.

So, what’s next on the drawing board? Well, I can’t really say, but if you consider for a moment the find-ability of information on a website, the Search application is only one aspect. Other elements to which we will be paying close attention include: information architecture, navigation, search engine optimization, metadata management, ontologies, and extended uses of the Search application.

Stay tuned!

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  • First - I am over joyed to hear that the new search is coming out.

    Second, it will be awesome if we can intelligently branch to search in SDN directly from the context of a transaction or error message in SAP.

    • Do you mean from within an SAP application... in cases where you receive an error message, you would like to launch a search on SDN (perhaps through some sort of link or button embedded in the application) on the error message.  Is this correct?  If so, this is an excellent idea.  What about integration into the SAP Help and/or other information repositories?  This would be a great use case to support indexing other SAP systems and making that information available on SCN.
      • yes - exactly.
        I presumed that SCN search would scan everything like SAP help, OSS notes etc - that is why I phrased the question as I did. Essentially what i had in mind was like right clicking on an error or a screen of a transaction and choosing "search in SCN" or somethng like that.
  • "if you are looking for the term "business intelligence," the search application would retrieve all results but also allow me to refine the search based on category. In this case, I am interested in Support Notes."

    Where can I select for example "Support Notes" to reduce the search results???? I cannot find the category view?

    BR, Christian

    • Hi Christian,

      You are absolutely correct.  This is missing functionality due to some problem during the release.  There should be a rich set of metadata in the left-hand column that allows you to navigate the search results.  We are looking into this and hope to have it resolved today.

      Thanks for pointing this out.


  • some friend told me that some scott lawley posted an interesting blog on SDN about 'faceted search' newly introduced on SDN, mentinoning it even in one sentence with Amazon's search.

    i went there an since I don't know the site structure to well and since i am not interesting in navigating in the first place I entered lawley into the search box in the upper right hand search box. the search comes up quickly - with 5 more or less unimportant artefacts referring somehow to lawley but none of his blogs actually.

    okay, I thought, names are not (yet?) indexed well (though in usual metadata an author's name is supposed to be an important parameter). never mind. try 'faceted search'. with and without quotes. again 5 hits, which reveal that phonetical full text search is more important than to the design than is the subject of an important artefact like a blog.

    BTW, I am currently turning my laptop around, holding it against a light source, looking in different angles at the screen. why? I want to see if any of the sort criteria links 'is visited' just to give me a hint what the actual sort criterion is. Date? Hmmm, no. Relevance? Hm, don't think so. Title? At least not alphabetically.

    business intelligence yields 49k+ results but I cannot 'see' any order at all.

    so, too bad. I don't find the blog by scott lawley on SDN's faceted 2.0 XL soopa-doopa community search tool using this tool.
    I get no clue about myself searching for my name using  this search nor anything I know that is important to myself and therefore led to some contributions of mine.

    I wish I would understand this search only 2 percent as intuitively and easy as I do understand Amazon's search. maybe it requires 2 university semester courses in Dublin Core studies to understand it, I don't get it.


    • Hi Anton et. al.,

      Unfortunately we are experiencing technical difficulties with TREX in combining the indicies which drive the results that should be displayed in the left-hand side.  We are working on a fix and hope to have it in place in the next day.

      The SCN developers and I greatly appreciate your patience and humor of situations like this.  I'm sure we can all relate to scenarios where our best laid plans went astray.