Big Screen Blog

Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

Windows Search SDK v3.x

with one comment

I had a play with the newly released Microsoft Windows Search 3.x SDK – which was released last week on MSDN downloads – and thought I’d give it a mention here – as it’s something that can also be utilized for Media Center applications.

If you haven’t seen the new Windows Desktop Search built into Vista (and also available as downloadable components for XP/2003/etc) – it provides a very quick way to search for content on your local harddrives. In a similar fashion to how a database works – the speed is achieved by pre-Indexing your file system (via a running Windows service) – so that you can find things quicker than you can finish saying ‘where is it’.. 

I should also mention that other types of non-file system content (like Outlook folders etc) can also be searched in a similar way. Another out of the box bit is that you can also search for files by other attached metadata such as Tags (a feature used by Windows Photo Gallery) – or even for keywords located within text/html/doc and other files.

The SDK download above provides a Managed .NET/Interop wrapper to this search functionality  – via the supplied set of classes – and a number of options for performing your queries. For example – a querying language known as AQS (Advanced Query Syntax) is provided which allows SQL style queries to be used. Additionally – a standard OLEDB provider is made available – so you can actually also use ADO to get to these indexes.

In terms of Media Center usage – for anyone writing an addin which needs to locate particular types of files (ie my Big Screen Photos + Big Screen TV Series addins both have this requirement) – it doesn’t get much better than this. The speed of searching is so fast (and is appropriately named ‘instant search’) – that I don’t think you could even scan a single directory in the same amount of time.

One issue however with this technology – is that you don’t get indexing of remote/mapped drives out of the box (and although you can still query these drives – indexes won’t be used/available – so its a lot slower). There’s some additional components that can be downloaded to support remote indexing (such as Windows Desktop Search : Add-in for Files on Microsoft Networks)  – but the user also needs to get the latest Windows Desktop Search Beta (apparently not the one built into Vista) to utilize this. 

Hence – this probably isn’t ideal if you want to keep your MediaCenter addin installation process simple. Hopefully the final versions of these new components will be made available soon on the Vista Windows Update – and In the meantime you can still use the non-indexed searching for these mapped drives (which is probably on par with raw directory scanning).


Written by mobilewares

March 15, 2007 at 12:22 am

Posted in Vista MediaCenter

One Response

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  1. I was told that each PC was responsible for indexing its own files for Desktop Search so that files on a remote PC would be indexed by that PC. Then the seach clients on each PC would talk to one another. This isn’t necessarily inconsistent with what you said, but it wasn’t obvious to me at first, so I thought I would point it out.


    March 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm

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