FAST Search 2010 (FS4SP) – Configuring the Document Converter for Legacy Office Documents

As with most organisations who have implemented a new SharePoint 2010 farm, there is likely to be a need to import/migrate office documents from shared file servers or other types of document management systems into SharePoint. This will mean that there might well be documents that were created using Office 97, XP or 2000 onwards that will be migrated into SharePoint 2010. On a recent exercise while using FAST Search for SharePoint 2010 as the search component, we found that the content of legacy office documents were failing to be indexed and thus not appearing in the users search queries. After further investigation and delving through logs, it was discovered that the Microsoft iFilter 2.0 was not able to convert the legacy documents to HTML to enable them to be indexed. However, this only related to the contents of the documents as the metadata were being crawled and made available in search results.

So how do we spot if this is occurring in your FAST environment? Well, you will need to go into FAST Search administration and check for the warnings in the crawl log for your content source. You will need to be looking for the warning message stated below:

“The FAST Search backend reported warnings when processing the item. ( Document conversion failed: LoadIFilter() failed: Bad extension for file (0x800401e6) )”

Unfortunately, there is not a fix for the Microsoft iFilter 2.0 but a workaround is possible with a configuration change in the FAST environment which will ensure that the legacy file types such as “.doc”, “.ppt” and “.xls” are converted using the SearchExportConverter and not the iFilterConverter. The SearchExportConverter still supports legacy formats and handles their conversion better than the iFilterConverter. The iFilterConverter will still be used to convert new versions of office documents such as “.docx” and “.xlsx” etc.

In order to make this change, I would strongly recommend implementing the process on your test environment to ensure you are happy that the legacy documents are being indexed and are available in search queries for your users. Please follow the steps below on each of your FAST Search servers to implement the SearchExportConverter into your FAST environment:

1) Go to your FAST Search root directory and set the Search Export Converter to “active=Yes” in the file \etc\config_data\documentprocessor\optionalprocessing.xml.

2) Open the converter_rules.xml file in the location \etc\formatdetector\ and comment out the legacy document types.

3) Open the pipelineconfig.xml and swap the order of the “iFilterConverter” and the “SearchExportConverter” in both pipeline sections.

4) In FAST Powershell, you now need to run the following cmdlet “ntrl reloadcfg” which reloads the configuration.

5) Again in FAST Powershell, you will need to re-start all your procservers by using the cmdlet “ntrl restart procserver_X”. X applies to the number of the procserver which you will need to restart as there will be more than one., “nctrl status” will list all the active procservers on your FAST Server.

I would also recommend a reboot of the FAST Search Servers and then you are free to run search queries against the contents of legacy office documents after running a full crawl.

Important Note: If you apply this fix before Service Pack 1, then you will need to re-apply step 3 after deploying Service Pack 1 as the update deploys a new version of the pipelineconfig.xml which includes a new entry called ‘CustomExtractor’ in the Elevated Linguistics pipeline section of the file.