Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Posted Monday, November 7, 2011 2:29 PM by CoreyRoth

At SharePoint Conference 2011, I showed off a great looking advanced search application using Silverlight 4.  This application queried the Search web service at /_vti_bin/search.asmx to retrieve results and display them directly inside the application.  A couple of years ago, I demonstrated how to build an advanced search application with Silverlight 3.  This application is very similar to that one except that I take it a step further and show you more of the possibilities of what the user interface could look like. 

The code you will see today was intended for Office 365 / SharePoint Online but will work quite well with SharePoint 2010 (and to a degree SharePoint 2007).  Everything from the pervious article pretty much applies.  We create a reference to search.asmx, we build an XML input document, and then we make an asynchronous call to the web service.  One thing I will point out is that I have been unsuccessful in getting the ClientAccessPolicy.xml file to work with SharePoint Online.  This means that the application cannot run locally to allow us to debug it.  I’ve posted to the Office 365 forums but have had no luck.  If anyone figures this out, please let me know.

The way we build the input XML document and call the web service is exactly the same as the pervious post.  However, what is different is the actual keyword query we construct.  Let’s take a look at what the interface looks like first.


There is a number of things going on here in this interface.  We first provide the user to do a simple keyword query search.  However, we also give the user the ability to query by File Size, Modified Date, Author, and by Document Only.  To do this, we use the following built-in managed properties respectively FileSize, Write, Author, and IsDocument.  The user can select any combination of the above to get a more specific query.  When the user clicks the SearchButton, our code builds a custom keyword query and sends it to the search web service.  The QueryTextBox displays the query that was constructed by the code.  However, it can also be modified by the user to test out a query manually.  This serves as a great search query testing tool.  After the user searches, the returned XML document is displayed in the large multiline textbox.  Beneath the textbox, I have added a Telerik GridView control.  I had this available to me so I decided to use it.  I think you could just as well have used a DataGrid control to bind the data too.

The code for the Silverlight application is surprisingly simple.  When the user clicks the SearchButton, we begin to construct the keyword query we want to pass to the web service.  To do this, we need a StringBuilder class so be sure and add a reference to System.Text.  We then check each control to see if it has a value.  For example, for SearchTextBox, if it has a value we simply append it to the StringBuilder named searchQuery.

if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(SearchTextBox.Text))
    searchQuery.AppendFormat("{0} ", SearchTextBox.Text);

The FileSize managed property has an operator with values such as >, >=, < and, <=.  These are contained in the ModifiedDateOperatorComboBox.  If there is a value then we append it to searchQuery.

if (FileSizeOperatorComboBox.SelectedItem != null)
    searchQuery.AppendFormat("Size{0}\"{1}\" ",

We continue to this for the rest of the controls on the page in the SearchButton click event handling method.  Here is the entire method.

private void SearchButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    StringBuilder searchQuery = new StringBuilder();

    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(SearchTextBox.Text))
        searchQuery.AppendFormat("{0} ", SearchTextBox.Text);

    if (FileSizeOperatorComboBox.SelectedItem != null)
        searchQuery.AppendFormat("Size{0}\"{1}\" ",

    if (ModifiedDateOperatorComboBox.SelectedItem != null)
        searchQuery.AppendFormat("Write{0}\"{1}\" ",

    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(AuthorTextBox.Text))
        searchQuery.AppendFormat("Author:\"{0}\" ", AuthorTextBox.Text);

    if (DocumentsOnlyCheckBox.IsChecked.Value)
        searchQuery.Append("IsDocument:1 ");

    // pass the search query to the method to actually call the search service

The QuerySearchService method makes the actual call to the web service.  Since we’re dealing with Silvelright, we have to call the web service method asynchronously.  We do this by binding an event handling method to the QueryExCompleted event.  Again for more details on how the XML is constructed see my information from the Silverlight 3 post.

private void QuerySearchService(string searchQuery)
    QueryServiceSoapClient queryService = new QueryServiceSoapClient();
    queryService.QueryExCompleted += new EventHandler<QueryExCompletedEventArgs>(QueryService_QueryExCompleted);

    QueryTextBox.Text = searchQuery;
    StringBuilder queryXml = new StringBuilder();

    queryXml.Append("<QueryPacket xmlns=\"urn:Microsoft.Search.Query\" Revision=\"1000\">");
    queryXml.Append("<Query domain=\"QDomain\">");
    queryXml.Append("<QueryText language=\"en-US\" type=\"STRING\">");

    BusyIndicator.IsBusy = true;

The last line passed the XML input document to the web service method.  Now, it’s just a matter of handling the return results in the event handling method.  The first thing we need to do is get the XML document with the results.  We can always find this in the Result.Nodes[1] object available in QueryExCompletedEventArgs.  For convenience, I write this value to a TextBox so that I can view it. 

ResultsTextBox.Text = e.Result.Nodes[1].ToString();

However, I want to bind this XML to our nice looking RadGridView.  To do this I must extract the data from the XDocument and expose it in a custom type. Here is where the LINQ to XML comes in.  Normally, I would just use an anonymous type for this, but that doesn’t work in Silverlight.  This means I have to create a new class to hold our search results.  I call this class SearchResult.

public class SearchResult
    public string Title { get; set; }
    public string Path { get; set; }
    public string Author { get; set; }
    public string Size { get; set; }
    public DateTime? Write { get; set; }
    public string SiteName { get; set; }
    public string HitHighlightedSummary { get; set; }
    public string ContentClass { get; set; }
    public bool IsDocument { get; set; }

I then use LINQ to XML to write the value of each property in.  Since nulls are a real possibility, I use .Any() before assigning each value to ensure we don’t get an exception.  To understand the LINQ we use, let’s take a quick look at the result XML document.

<diffgr:diffgram xmlns:msdata="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-msdata" xmlns:diffgr="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-diffgram-v1">
    <Results xmlns="">
        <RelevantResults diffgr:id="RelevantResults1" msdata:rowOrder="0">
            <HitHighlightedSummary>Site Actions &lt;ddd/&gt; This page location is: &lt;ddd/&gt; Home &lt;ddd/&gt; Team Sites &lt;ddd/&gt; Pages &lt;ddd/&gt; default &lt;ddd/&gt; Employee &lt;ddd/&gt; Resources &lt;ddd/&gt; Facilities &lt;ddd/&gt; News &lt;ddd/&gt; I Like It &lt;ddd/&gt; Tags &amp;amp; Notes &lt;ddd/&gt; Libraries &lt;ddd/&gt; Shared Documents &lt;ddd/&gt; Flyers &lt;ddd/&gt; Presentations &lt;ddd/&gt; Proposals &lt;ddd/&gt; &lt;c0&gt;Sales&lt;/c0&gt; Forecasts &lt;ddd/&gt; Lists &lt;ddd/&gt; Calendar &lt;ddd/&gt; Tasks &lt;ddd/&gt; </HitHighlightedSummary>

Each search result is contained inside a ReleventResults node inside of the Results element.  So we look inside there to create our query.

var results = from result in
                              select new SearchResult
                                  Title = (result.Elements("Title").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("Title").Value : string.Empty,
                                  Path = (result.Elements("Path").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("Path").Value : string.Empty,
                                  Author = (result.Elements("Author").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("Author").Value : string.Empty,
                                  Size = (result.Elements("Size").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("Size").Value : string.Empty,
                                  Write = (result.Elements("Write").Any())
                                    ? DateTime.Parse(result.Element("Write").Value) : DateTime.MinValue,
                                  SiteName = (result.Elements("SiteName").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("SiteName").Value : string.Empty,
                                  HitHighlightedSummary = (result.Elements("HitHighlightedSummary").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("HitHighlightedSummary").Value : string.Empty,
                                  ContentClass = (result.Elements("ContentClass").Any())
                                    ? result.Element("ContentClass").Value : string.Empty,
                                  IsDocument = (result.Elements("IsDocument").Any())
                                    ? bool.Parse(result.Element("IsDocument").Value) : false

We simply assign each property after verifying that it’s not null.  Most values are strings but we did do some casting for DateTime and Boolean values.  The last thing we do is bind to the RadGridView.

ResultsRadGridView.ItemsSource = results;

The next section applies to the Telerik specific content.  If you don’t have those controls available to you, you can skip this section and you can configure the built-in grid in a similar manner.  RadGridView has some column types that allow us to format links and checkboxes in a nice manner.  Telerik has free trials available if you are interested.  Here is what that code looks like.

<telerik:RadGridView HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="13,227,0,0" Name="ResultsRadGridView" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="776" AutoGenerateColumns="False">
        <telerik:GridViewDynamicHyperlinkColumn Header="Title" DataMemberBinding="{Binding Title}" NavigateUrlFormatString="{} {0}" NavigateUrlMemberPaths="Path" TargetName="_blank" />
        <telerik:GridViewDataColumn Header="Author" DataMemberBinding="{Binding Author}" />
        <telerik:GridViewDataColumn Header="Write" DataMemberBinding="{Binding Write}" DataFormatString="{} {0:MMM, dd, yyyy}" />
        <telerik:GridViewDataColumn Header="Size" DataMemberBinding="{Binding Size}" />
        <telerik:GridViewDataColumn Header="HitHighlightedSummary" DataMemberBinding="{Binding HitHighlightedSummary}" />
        <telerik:GridViewDataColumn Header="ContentClass" DataMemberBinding="{Binding ContentClass}" />
        <telerik:GridViewHyperlinkColumn Header="SiteName" DataMemberBinding="{Binding SiteName}" TargetName="_blank" />
        <telerik:GridViewCheckBoxColumn Header="IsDocument" DataMemberBinding="{Binding IsDocument}" />

That’s all the code that is involved.   Here is a screenshot of it in action.


I’ve attached the code to this post (minus the Telerik controls). This code will work on-premises or in the cloud with SharePoint Online.  I’ve confirmed this works with both the P1 and E3 SKUs of Office 365. I just used built-in managed properties in my example, but if you create custom properties of your own you can add those as well. Try it out and see what you think.


# Building Sharepoint Silverlight, Visio Diagram | SDavara&#039;s Sharepoint Knowledge Center

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# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 12:59 AM by Abin

Is it possible to create custom managed properties in SharePoint Online? . Actually i need to accomplish this on my 0365 app. Can you please help?

# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 8:57 PM by CoreyRoth

@Abin currently not possible I'm afraid.  I wish it was.

# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 11:23 PM by Abin

Thanks Corey for the Info. I have another issue too while using your sample code, I am getting an Unauthorised exception like " Attempted to perform an unauthorized operation"  on line of code

"queryService.QueryEx(queryXml.ToString()); "

# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Thursday, December 8, 2011 10:40 AM by CoreyRoth

@Abin This is with SharePoint Online right?  Are you running the Silverlight application locally or from the SharePoint site.  Can you execute queries in the search center successfully?

# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Thursday, December 8, 2011 10:42 PM by Abin


# SharePoint Saturday &#8211; SharePoint Online 2010 de mogelijkheden en beperkingen &laquo; SPC NL

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# SharePoint Saturday &#8211; SharePoint Online 2010 de mogelijkheden en beperkingen &laquo; SPC NL

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# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:38 PM by Marcel B

Hi Corey, Thank you for your code. It works. Question: I tried adding my own managed property, and I can use it as input to filter the search in the query e.g. Spread:"Spread 1", but I am not getting the 'Spread' field back in the returned XML. How can I adjust the returned XML?

Thank you for your suite of articles.

# re: Building a SharePoint advanced search application with Silverlight 4

Friday, October 19, 2012 3:30 PM by CoreyRoth

@Marcel you need to add a SelectProperties element to your input XML and include all of the desired properties you want (including the built-in ones).

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