Thursday, January 19, 2017

Clarification on automatic managed properties in SharePoint Online

For some time now automatic managed properties in SPO are listed grayed out, with no settings shown. They sort of seem like ghost properties, not usable for anything. Fortunately this is not true.


Displaying no properties does not mean that they are not working as you would expect. The Microsoft SharePoint Escalation Services Team explained it all in a blog post dated August 30th 2016, but it’s not easy to understand. My take is that this was done in order to optimize schema handling in SPO, where there are millions of schemas. They were slowing up, but now at least you can still work with them.

Before you start mapping your crawled properties to new managed properties, see if the automatic ones work as you would expect. The default settings for an automatic managed property (has OWS in the name) are:
  • Queryable
  • Retrievable
  • Multi-value (taxonomy and multi-user fields only)
  • Searchable (taxonomy fields only)
If not, use my rule of 3 below.

Mikaels managed property rule of 3:
  1. Use automatic managed properties if possible
  2. Map crawled properties (the plain ows_columnname ones) to the RefinableXXYY re-usable properties if possible. And do give them an alias for easier management and use
  3. Create a custom managed property as last resort – which is only possible for Text and Yes/No fields.
Shout-out to Joanne Klein for making me blog something which I have just taken for granted :) and to Tarjei for verifying the settings of the auto generated managed properties in an on-prem environment for me. And to Marc Anderson for being the glue!