SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Search Center quirks

If you have created a Search Center with Tabs (you  know, that one with 2 tabs that allow you to also perform People Search?) in SharePoint 2007 under a Team Site top-level site, most likely you’ve been able to experience the dreaded exception, followed by and even worse situation where the site has been created, but is inaccessible, whatsoever.

So in conclusion operation failed, and you are left with only one option: To delete that freshly created site before being able to reuse that same URL path again.

Explanation is simple (and not very well documented also): In order to use the Search Center with Tabs you need to activate the “Publishing infrastructure”.  Remember, the 2 different “types” of sites, also known as “Collaboration sites” vs. “Publishing sites”. In other words you need to activate 2 features (please note that pictures below are those available in SharePoint 2010), one at Site Collection level and the other one at Site level, as follows:

1. Open to Top-Level site, go into Site Settings and (attention) under “Site Collection Administration” choose Site Collection features. On the list find the “SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure”. Be aware that activating it can sometime lead to unpredictable results, particularly on the sites with highly customized default master page. Now assuming this is successful move to step 2.

2. On the same Site Settings page at the level of the top-level site, this time use the “Site Features” (only for the current site, not all the site collection) and activate the feature “….”. Once this is done, you can go create your “Search Center with Tabs”.

Now, for some questions we feel would seem reasonable:

1. Why isn’t the “Search Center with Tabs” site template hidden by default as part of the Site definition?  (In a site definition it is possible very easy to have a “VisibilityFeatureDependency” that would hide a particular site template unless that feature, whose Id is specified is not activated before)!

2. Why isn’t a specific error part of the system that should state “Hey dude, cannot do that because…bla,bla”?

If you would have thought that this issue has been tackled in SharePoint 2010, you are in for a big surprise, because it isn’t. Actually the exception message is really simple “No can do” – or in translation “An exception has occurred, Correlation Id {bla,bla,bla}”. Indeed there is a new “Enterprise Search Center” (no longer called “Search Center with Tabs”), but is does 100% the same.

In conclusion, if you ever need to use the “Enterprise Search Center” while running a “Non-publishing site”, do make sure you activate the features mentioned above!

So, even if it is obvious for some of us, that have encountered the issue in the “old” times of MOSS 2007, it might be not that obvious for some others.  I hope it does spare some valuable time, while trying to get to the bottom of it.

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3 responses to “SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Search Center quirks

  1. So how do you create a Top Level Enterprise Search Center Site on the “Top Level” of the Web Application (i.e. as the Top Level site, of the First Site Collection) of the web site without first enabling the Publication Feature?

    I am assuming that you have to create the top level site before you enable to Publication Feature for the Web Application. Or can you enable the publication feature just after creating the Web Application by using the “SharePoint 2010 Management Shell”?

    • Actually, is even simpler, as its all in the Site Definition. Basically using from Enterprise tab, the Enterprise Search Center as your top level site, will automatically activate the publishing features at the Site Collection level. Further down, for each site it again depends on the Site definition choosen.

    • Actually if you start by creating the Top-Level site collection using the Enteprise Search center template, it should happen for you automatically. In all other situations, you need to enable these yourself.

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