With the arrival of SharePoint 2013, the analytics engine has been completely revamped given much more importance than the previous version. The main reason Microsoft has put so much effort into improving the analytics engine is because of SharePoint 2013’s emphasis on search and how analytics will greatly improve result relevance. Things like views, click distance, social tags and social distance are all things we’re used to with search engines and social networking sites and will now be part of SharePoint 2013’s new arsenal. If you are planning to do a SharePoint migration soon, this will be good to know. Let’s have a look in detail.
Usage Reports (Popularity Trends)
Unlike reports in its predecessor, SharePoint 2013 generates usage reports via Excel. This makes sense since it allows you to manipulate the data in ways you wouldn’t image through a web interface. The report shows historical data on hits and unique users. As with SharePoint 2010, it’s possible to view this data at a site collection and site scope but now it’s even possible for a specific document or page. Accessing this data for the site collection and site is done through the site settings page:
For a specific page, you can access the popularity trends through the ribbon, under the “Share & Track group:
The report format doesn’t change depending on the source scope. For example, this is what the report for my home page looks it (notice the “Item: Home” indicates what the report data source):
Reports are generated for a daily and monthly basis and allows you to manipulate the data as you wish.
Most Popular Items
Besides reports, the analytics also integrates with search results. One example of this is the “Most Popular Items” functionality which allows you to generate search results sorted on different popularity criteria. To access this functionality within a document library, click the “Most Popular Items” button in the ribbon:
Once you click this button, you’ll get search results for the document library which you can view by:
Most viewed by unique users
Most recommendation clicks (based on usage patterns)
You can also filter the results with your own search query using the normal query text box. Also, if you have access to the “Search-Driven Content” Web Parts (enterprise, on-premise), you can use the “Popular Items” Web Part to show the results on a different page. All this is, is a pre-configured “Content by Search” Web Part.
Use it with your Search Results Web Part
Ok, so consider the scenario where you’re not in an Enterprise enabled on-premise farm. Can you still take advantage of the analytics data in your search results? Sure! By using the search results Web Part, you can configure your search query to use item views and other new managed metadata to sort your results. Consider you want to reproduce the “Most Popular Items” Web Part for documents in your site. All you need is to configure the query with the following parameters:
Query text: *
Refiners: STS_ListItem_DocumentLibrary; docx; http://xxx
Sorting: ViewLifeTime (Descending). Note: You can also choose for unique users and recent views.
As simple as that. Now I have the same results as the “Popular Items” Web Part. Display could need a bit of tweaking but you get the gist of it.
All in all, the new Analytics engine offers users to search based on very valuable usage patterns. Being able to know what content your users are viewing and surfacing it easily through the search capabilities is something we’ve all been wanting. Seems like search is now an essential part of the way users will see data in SharePoint 2013. And if you want to learn more on the new SharePoint 2013 features and the supported scenarios to migrate check out the SharePoint Migration series.