Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Andreas Grabner, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, Automic Blog

Blog Feed Post

No metadata? No problem! Custom entity extraction in SharePoint 2013

Every organization wants better search results.  However, few have actually spent the time to create file plans, content types, and managed properties to make it happen.  SharePoint 2013 has a feature called entity extraction though that can actually infer values by comparing what it finds in the body of the document to a dictionary.  This feature is Entity Extraction.  If you are familiar with FAST Search for SharePoint or FAST ESP, you know that entity extraction is nothing new.  What it does is gives you the power to infer the values of managed properties in search without having metadata in your site columns.  FS4SP and SharePoint 2013 come with an extraction dictionaries for company names out-of-the-box.  This means when it crawls it will search the contents of the body of your documents and if it recognizes any companies it knows, you can then search and refine on it.  However, the true value comes when you create your own.  SharePoint 2013 makes it really easy to create these custom dictionaries. 

Let me give you a few more examples to help you really understand the significance.  Most companies have a concept of a department or business unit.  We can create a dictionary with all of the company’s departments such as Accounting, Human Resources, IT, Operations, etc.  With entity extraction, if it finds a document and somewhere the text “Human Resources Organization Chart” is found, it then sets the value of the managed property to Human Resources.  Now, when the user does an advanced search and says “show me all Human Resources documents”, that result comes back with more confidence.  By using the extraction dictionary, we get better results that just using a regular keyword search.  Now you may be wondering that’s nothing special, but we can also add other terms, for example, I could add “HR”, and “Benefits” to that dictionary as well and map them to the Human Resources department.  Once I have a property defined like this, I can combine it with others as well.  This will let us issue queries like “show me all documents from Human Resources with a document type of Policy”. 

As another example, you could pre-load SharePoint with a dictionary of product names.  For those of you in the energy industry, you could pre-populate it with a list of wells or names of leases.  Are you starting to see the significance?  In previous versions of SharePoint, we had to set site columns in our document libraries to capture these values either from the user or programmatically.  Now with the right dictionary, we can assume the values with a reasonable degree of confidence.

Alright, enough explanation, let’s see this in action and hopefully it will make sense.  MSDN has a great post on this but I found and error in it so that is why I am writing this post (plus I know you all like screenshots).  For my example, I have a bunch of PowerPoint documents about SharePoint 2013 on my site.  I’ve created a custom entity extraction dictionary that will help me refine these documents by feature in SharePoint (i.e.: Apps, Business Intelligence, Search, Social, etc). 

Before you build your dictionary file though, you need to decide on what type of extraction to use.  You can choose whether you want it to match a word or just part of it.  You can also specify whether it needs to match exactly.  The MSDN article summarizes this well, but here’s a quick recap of your choices.

  • Word Extraction – case-insentive, word has to match, limited to 5 dictionaries
  • Word Part Extraction – case-insensitive, only part of a word has to match, limited to 5 dictionaries
  • Word Exact Extraction – case-sensitive, word has to match, limited to 1 dictionary
  • Word Part Exact Extraction – case-sensitive, only part of a word has to match, limited to 1 dictionary

For today’s example, I am going to use Word Part Extraction as it gives you some of the most flexibility.  You might want to use Word Exact Extraction for extracting IDs from a document.  For example, you could use it to extract part numbers or invoice numbers.  Those aren’t something you would typically want to refine on but you may want to query on them.  FAST Search for SharePoint only provided case-sensitive extraction.  This made the feature less useful as you had to accommodate all possible varieties of case combinations in your dictionary file.

To get started, we need to create a dictionary file. I started with notepad and I also edited with Excel some.  The format is simple “Key,Display form”.  The key is what it matches and the Display form is what gets displayed in the refiner.  Although the Display form is optional, you want to include it as it allows you to control the exact way the text looks in the refiner (including case sensitivity).  Here’s the dictionary file I created.

Key,Display form

bcs,Business Connectivity Services

Business Connectivity Services,Business Connectivity Services

wcm,Web Content Management

Web Content Management,Web Content Management

bi,Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence,Business Intelligence

ecm,Electronic Content Management

Electronic Content Management,Electronic Content Management

Apps,Apps

Analytics,Analytics

Development,Development

Service Application,Service Application

Excel Services,Excel Services

Office Web Apps,Office Web Apps

owa,Office Web Apps

wac,Office Web Apps

PerformancePoint,Business Intelligence

Search,Search

Social,Social

My Sites,My Sites

Communities,Social

Visio Services,Visio Services

Workflow,Workflow

The next step is to use the PowerShell command, Import-SPEnterpriseSearchCustomExtractionDictionary.  The documentation on this page is correct which is how I found the solution to my problem.  The first step is to get a reference to the Search Service Application using Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication.  Then for our import command, we pass the service application, the Filename, and the DictionaryName.  Here’s where the complexity comes in.  The Filename requires a UNC path.  That means something like \\servername\path\file.csv.  It won’t take a relative path.  The next tricky part is where I found an issue in the documentation.  I wanted to use the Word Part extraction, it has the case of the word “WordPart” incorrect in the dictionary name.  If you do specify the DictionaryName wrong, it will not work.  Here are the list of valid values which correspond to the extraction types we talked about above.

  • Microsoft.UserDictionaries.EntityExtraction.Custom.Word.n [where n = 1,2,3,4 or 5]
  • Microsoft.UserDictionaries.EntityExtraction.Custom.ExactWord.1
  • Microsoft.UserDictionaries.EntityExtraction.Custom.WordPart.n [where n = 1,2,3,4 or 5]
  • Microsoft.UserDictionaries.EntityExtraction.Custom.ExactWordPart.1

For the non-exact entries, you need to specify a value at the end (1 – 5) which specifies which extraction dictionary it uses.  In the case below, I did number 2 since I already messed up number 1 by specifying the dictionary name incorrectly. :)

$searchApp = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication

Import-SPEnterpriseSearchCustomExtractionDictionary –SearchApplication $searchApp –Filename \\server\c$\folder\WordPartExtraction.csv –DictionaryName Microsoft.UserDictionaries.EntityExtraction.Custom.WordPart.2

When you run the commands, it will look like this.  I put the above in a script file for convenience.

SearchImportCustomEntityExtractorPowerShell

The next part I believe is a little different than the way you did it with FAST Search for SharePoint.  What you need to do is tell search which managed properties to perform entity extraction.  Effectively, what we are doing here is telling search to look at the body of the document and see if anything in there matches items in the dictionary.  To do this, go to your Search Service Application –> Search Schema and edit the property named body

ManagedPropertiesBody

Scroll to the bottom and you will see the Custom entity extraction section.  Now, we just need to check the box next to the dictionary we want to use.  In my case, it is Word Part Extraction – Custom2.  If you have multiple dictionaries you may select them here.  Save the managed property after you make your selection.

ManagedPropertyCustomEntityExtraction

After you save, you need to start a full crawl on your content source, typically Local SharePoint sites

When this finishes, we can now begin to use our new extracted entities in our search center.  The first thing we want to do is add this new extraction to the Refinement web part so that users can refine results by SharePoint feature.  Go to your Search Center and issue a query that is going to get you some results that you know you can refine on.  In my case, I typed the word SharePoint since I knew all of my documents were related to that.  Once you get search results, edit the page.  Then on the left side, edit the Refinement web part.  Now, click the Choose Refiners button. 

RefinementWebPartProperties

This page will list all managed properties marked for refinement.  What’s really nice is that when you click on a managed property, it gives you a preview of the available refiners.

CustomEntityExtractionRefinerProperties

In the list of available refiners, I select WordPartCustomRefiner2.  Below, you see a list of Sample values and the number of times it found a match.  To configure the property, select it and click the Add button.  I also added this new refiner up to the top since I want users to see it first.

CustomEntityExtractionRefinerProperties2

Now, I gave it a Display name and you have the option to choose a different Display template as well as how it is sorted.  You can actually customize how the refiner is rendered on the page with the display template too but that’s outside of the scope of today’s post.  At the bottom of the page there is also a Preview button.  Click on it and you will see what your search results look like before you even save the page.

CustonEntityExtractionRefinementPreview

If you’re happy with the way the refiners look, save the page, check it in, and publish it.  Now issue a query.  I am going to use the same one from before.

CustomEntityExtractionSearchResultsDefault

As you can see, we now see a list of the SharePoint features that we specified in our dictionary.  Let’s try a few refiners.  Let’s start by selecting Electronic Content Management.  I do know that should it read Enterprise, but it was after midnight when I started working on this. :)

CustomEntityExtractionSearchResultsECM

Notice, that in the results, that Word Document 3 comes back and you see “ECM” in it.  That’s the only text in the document and it matched it to that feature since we defined it in the dictionary.  Now let’s try Business Connectivity Services.

CustomEntityExtractionSearchResultsBCS

It returns several slide decks this time because it mentions it in the Intro deck, the BCS deck, UPS, etc.  I’m not sue how Visio Services made a hit to it, but maybe there is something new I need to learn. :)

You can also select multiple refiners.  In this case, I selected Apps and Web Content Management.

CustomEntityExtractionSearchResultsCombined

By now, I am hoping you are seeing the power of entity extraction.  It gives you a new level of classification on documents and the users never had to tag anything manually at all. 

You can issue queries with these dictionaries as well too.  For example, if I want to search for anything tagged with Apps, I would issue the following query.

WordPartCustomRefiner2:"Apps"

CustomEntityExtractionSearchResultsQuery

I hope after reading this post, it has got you started thinking.  Most organizations have next to no metadata on their documents.  This isn’t a replacement for taking the time to classify your documents properly with site columns and content types.  Inferring metadata will never be as good as the users taking the time to classify the documents themselves.  However, it is a great stop-gap in dealing with all of that untagged content you have. 

I think this is one of the most significant feature in SharePoint 2013 that most people will probably never use.  :(  Take the time to set up a few dictionaries and you are going to get immediate value out of search and your users are going to notice.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Corey Roth

Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is a consultant at Hitachi Consulting specializing in SharePoint and Office 365 for clients in the energy sector. He has more than ten years of experience delivering solutions in the energy, travel, advertising and consumer electronics verticals.

Corey specializes in delivering ECM and search solutions to clients using SharePoint. Corey has always focused on rapid adoption of new Microsoft technologies including Visual Studio 2013, Office 365, and SharePoint.

He is a member of the .NET Mafia (www.dotnetmafia.com) where he blogs about the latest technology and SharePoint. He is dedicated to the community and speaks regularly at user groups and SharePoint Saturdays.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outscale's technology makes an automated and adaptable Cloud available to businesses, supporting them in the most complex IT projects while controlling their operational aspects. You boost your IT infrastructure's reactivity, with request responses that only take a few seconds.
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Everywhere we turn in our industry we can find strong opinions about the direction, type and nature of cloud’s impact on computing and business. Another word that is used in every context in our industry is “hybrid.” In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Alvaro Gonzalez, Director of Technical, Partner and Field Marketing at Peak 10, will use a combination of a few conceptual props and some research recently commissioned by Peak 10 to offer a real-world consideration of how the various categories of...
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Carbonite will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Carbonite protects your entire IT footprint with the right level of protection for each workload, ensuring lower costs and dependable solutions with DoubleTake and Evault.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP Integration will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EARP Integration is a passionate software house. Since its inception in 2009 the company successfully delivers smart solutions for cities and factories that start their digital transformation. EARP provides bespoke solutions like, for example, advanced enterprise portals, business intelligence systems an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...