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Using Filter Web Parts to search a SharePoint List / Library View's entire directory hierarchy (incl. sub-folders)

So, this is a fairly common use-case and requirement that FilterZen easily delivers a workable solution for. (I think we have this topic covered in a forum thread or two, but a quick "authorative" blog post on this can't hurt.)

Here's your situation:

  • you have a SharePoint List View (or Library View) with folders shown. Easy, simple, your users know how to work with that.
  • you have it connected to a Filter Web Part so that users can easily "search" locally within that List View, without needing SharePoint's Search UI.
  • your users appreciate the display of folders, but also would like to be able to "search in all folders" when they begin specifying filter criteria.

By default, this won't happen. By default, any Filter Web Part will only work with what's contained in the current folder and not include sub-folders. More to the point, by default any "filters set on the List View" only affect what the View would otherwise show. The View would only ever show either items inside the current folder (or, if the View has been set up that way, show a flat list of everything regardless of folders).

The FilterZen solution...

  • Open your FilterZen Web Part's settings tool-pane (via its Web Part menu / Edit option)
  • In the Filtering Mode section, enable the "CAML Direct filtering mode"
  • From the drop-down labelled "...attempt to override the default display of folders", select "Show files/items and sub-folders across all folders"
  • Apply your changes to the Filter Web Part; then open Site Settings / FilterZen Studio / Configuration and expand the User Experience section
  • Ensure the "Override display of folders only when filters are active" check-box option is selected/activated/ticked.

...and what it actually does:

the last step listed above ensures that FilterZen only overrides your View's original "show folders or all items flatly" setting when any filtering is actually performed on that View. This way, initially you can have the List View provide the user-friendly "folders and sub-folders" navigation, but users also get to "search" (apply filtering) across all items in the List/Library View regardless of their folder location, by having FilterZen temporarily turn off the List View's "show folders" setting just when it would get in the way of the search.

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