If you are like me you spend a lot of time searching the internet for technical information. MSDN and TechNet have a lot of information, but when searching it you often have to filter out a lot of irrelevant content.

There is a trick you can use to filter search results so you only get results from a specific category of content on MSDN or TechNet.

To search for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 SDK content start with this URL:

http://www.bing.com/search?q=%5BSearch+Terms%5D+meta%3ASearch.MSCategory%28%22gg269275%22%29+site%3Amsdn.microsoft.com

To search for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Implementation Guide content start with this URL:

http://www.bing.com/search?q=%5BSearch+Terms%5D+meta%3ASearch.MSCategory%28%22ee309492%22%29+site%3Atechnet.microsoft.com

After you open the URL, save it as a shortcut and give it a name, for example: “CRM 2011 SDK” or “CRM 2011 IG”.

Both of these pages will open in Bing with specific criteria already entered in the search field. For the SDK search you will see this:

[Search Terms] meta:Search.MSCategory("gg269275") site:msdn.microsoft.com

For the Implementation Guide search you will see this:

[Search Terms] meta:Search.MSCategory("ee309492") site:technet.microsoft.com

Once you save this URL as a favorite, you can easily open this page when you need it. To search, simply edit the content of the search field to replace the ‘[Search Terms]’ part with the search criteria you are looking for.

You can use this approach with just about any product that has content on MSDN or TechNet. For example, if you want to search just the Sharepoint 2010 SDK Documentation on MSDN, use this URL:

http://www.bing.com/search?q=%5BSEARCH+TERMS%5D+meta%3ASearch.MSCategory%28%22ff420337%22%29+site%3Amsdn.microsoft.com

How can I make new filtered search favorites?

These search filter favorites work because Bing indexes the MSDN and TechNet content using search tags embedded in the metadata of the document. Each page has several Search.MSCategory meta tags that describe the hierarchy that the page appears in the MSDN or TechNet table of contents. Once you identify the page that represents the true parent node for the portion of the MSDN table of contents, you can create a similar filtered search favorite. The tricky part is identifying that true parent node.

To create a filtered search favorite:

1. Navigate to MSDN or TechNet and identify a topic area you are interested in. In this example, let’s say I want to focus on the Silverlight documentation.

2. Examine the Table of contents. This works best using the “Classic” view.

3. Locate a topic below the main table of contents node. I’ll choose the XAML topic.

4. If you right click on the topic and use the context menu to choose View Source, in the area where you might expect to find meta tags you will see this:

<!-- Looking for metadata? Use the robot view instead http://currentsite/currenturl(robot).aspx -->

5. Following those instructions, open this page: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc189054(VS.95)(robot).aspx

6. Now right click on the page and use the context menu to choose View Source.

7. Now you will see lots of meta tags. Look for the ones with the name value of Search.MSCategory

For this page you should find the following:

<<meta name="Search.MSCategory" content="ms310241" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" />

<meta name="Search.MSCategory" content="aa139615" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" />

<meta name="Search.MSCategory" content="cc838813" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" />

<meta name="Search.MSCategory" content="ff630996" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" />

Each of these represents the true parent in the hierarchy of the ‘anchor’ pages in the table of contents. At the top of the XAML overview page in the classic view you can see this visually:

MSDN > MSDN Library>.NET Development > Silverlight > XAML

But these anchor pages in the table of contents don’t necessary represent the true parent of the hierarchy that is indexed. To search for only Silverlight documentation we are interested in the value of the content attribute in the second meta tag from the bottom: cc838813.

If you open this page directly, (using http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc838813.aspx) you will see a strange page with the title @No Title, but this strange page is actually the root table of contents node according to the meta tags.

8. Now that you have identified the ‘true’ parent, With that page number you can create a search filter:

[Search Terms] meta:Search.MSCategory("cc838813") site:msdn.microsoft.com

9. Go to http://www.bing.com and type the search filter into the search field. Execute the search and save the resulting page as a favorite.

You have now created a search favorite for the Silverlight documentation.

Cheers,

Jim Daly



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