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SharePoint Wildcard Search: “Pro” Is Not a Stem of “Programming”

On the MSDN search forum, people often ask a question like this:

"I have a document named ‘Programming Guide’ but when I search for ‘Pro’ search does not find it."

It may not feel like it, but that amounts to a wildcard search.  The MOSS/WSS user interface does not support wildcard search out of the box.

If you dig into the search web parts, you’ll find a checkbox, "Enable search term stemming".  Stemming is a human-language term.  It’s not a computer language substring() type function.

These are some stems:

  • "fish" is a stem to "fishing"
  • "major" is a stem to "majoring"

These are not stems:

  • "maj" is not a stem to "major"
  • "pro" is not a stem to "programmer"

The WSS/MOSS search engine does support wild card search through the API.  Here is one blog article that describes how to do that: http://www.dotnetmafia.com/blogs/dotnettipoftheday/archive/2008/03/06/how-to-use-the-moss-enterprise-search-fulltextsqlquery-class.aspx

A 3rd party product, Ontolica, provides wild card search.  I have not used that product.

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