In my opinion, the thesaurus in SharePoint ranks in the top 10 of least used capabilities in MOSS. There are three main reasons. First, not many folks know that it even exists. Second, those who know and want to use it are often confused on how to use it. Third, and most importantly, those who REALLY care about it and know the organizational business language do not know how to (and don’t want to) manipulate an XML file that sits buried on the server.
Case in point, what is the likelihood that a business user can get the syntax of a thesaurus file (see below) EXACTLY right? When I say "exactly", I mean the format needs to be perfect (ever try to explain malformed XML?) and the data needs to be correct (example: the thesaurus will not work if you reuse a word).
— <XML ID="Microsoft Search Thesaurus">
— <thesaurus xmlns="x-schema:tsSchema.xml">
I created an Excel-based utility (everyone knows Excel!) that hopefully helps mitigate this problem. It creates a thesaurus file, tsneu.xml, based on synonyms defined in columns of the spreadsheet. I also created a check for duplicates. This way, a business user can create and manage the thesaurus and simply needs to deliver a file to IT support to be dropped in the proper location on the MOSS server. I’m sharing it in hopes that others will begin to rally around the value of optimized search results through the use of business language definitions. Happy searching!
Down the excel file here.
Pierre Erol GIRAUDY-MVP MOSS