In the past users of Microsoft Dynamics AX have relied on generic web search tools, such as Bing.com or Google.com, to find product Help for AX on TechNet and MSDN. The results from such searches often contained many links that had nothing to do with AX. And those links that were about AX were sometimes not highly relevant to the narrow area of current interest.
Concurrently with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 we published a webpage named WebSearchAx under the Dynamics/AX/ section of www.microsoft.com. WebSearchAx gives you filters to control and reduce the otherwise large set of semi-relevant or irrelevant links that populate many search results.
I Never Meta Element I Did Not Like
WebSearchAx has a big advantage over generic Bing.com and Google.com when searching for product Help about AX: WebSearchAx knows about the special HTML <meta> elements we have added to our Help topic files on TechNet and MSDN. WebSearchAx has one set of controls for each of the approximately nine types of <meta> elements we have added into each AX Help topic.
The first example is the product HTML <meta> element, which tells WebSearchAx that in the entire world wide web, these 300,000 HTML webpages are the only pages that belong to the formal Dynamics AX Help set. This filters out the potential noise from the rest of the world wide web:
A second example is the <meta> element we have to encode the concept of user role:
The .Persona example shows the value for system administrator Help, but the complete list of valid .Persona values is:
In the following screenshot of WebSearchAx, the first set of “User role” controls directly corresponds to the <meta> element named for the concept of .Persona:
You can see at the bottom of the WebSearchAx screenshot that a few checkbox filters are selected. Each of those checkboxes corresponds to a different <meta> name, and each <meta> name has its own list of possible values.
Automatic Generation of the Bing.com Search String
After you set the controls in WebSearchAx, you click its search button. This causes WebSearchAx to open a Bing.com webpage with the Bing textbox filled in for you. For the above WebSearchAx screenshot, here are the contents of the Bing textbox:
In theory you can leverage the new <meta> elements by manually typing all those verbose search criteria into Bing.com yourself. We created the WebSearchAx page because such manual effort is implausible.
A Bing.com Webpage is Opened Automatically
The following screenshot shows the Bing.com webpage of link results that was started when the user clicked the search button on WebSearchAx. You can see how completely all the noisy unwanted links are suppressed, and the two links that satisfy the search criteria are the only links the user’s eyes must sift through:
Beyond Formal Help: WebSearchAx Knows where to Look
A frequent concern raised by AX customers is that the many less formal sources of help for AX are spread all around the web, making them hard to find. WebSearchAx reduces this problem by having specific knowledge of where on the web a variety of AX help types and sources are located.
Next is a snip from the WebSearchAx user interface that shows the controls for the source of help. It shows the user is searching for white papers:
The following image shows links to white papers that were found by WebSearchAx through Bing. The search term in WebSearchAx was ‘security’:
Getting to the WebSearchAx Page
Both workspaces of the AX client have Help menus. Both Help menus have links to WebSearchAx.
Application Workspace: Help menu links to WebSearchAx
The highlighted link about System administrator Help opens a browser to WebSearchAx, with the system administrator role already checked.
Development Workspace: Help menu links to WebSearchAx
The highlighted link about Developer Help opens a browser to WebSearchAx, with the Developer user role already checked.
Help Viewer: Links at the the bottom of results, to WebSearchAx
When the user clicks one of those three circled links, WebSearchAx will be opened with its textbox already filled with the ‘crosscompany’ term from the Help Viewer textbox.
Developer Center for Microsoft Dynamics AX: Link to “Advanced Search” is to WebSearchAx
Our Developer Center for Dynamics AX on MSDN has links to many resources, including a link to WebSearchAx near its top. Currently the link is labeled “advance search”.