SharePoint 2013 Popularity Trends feature


Popularity Trends is a feature in SharePoint Server 2013 that enhances search and web analytics services by offering a ready-to-use solution.

Introduction

When you click Popularity Trends on the SharePoint site ribbon, an analytics usage report is generated in Excel® format. This report, which is available in both table and chart formats, shows the number of hits and unique users in a month.

Usage reports

Usage reports are available in the following two types:

  • Popularity Trends
  • Most popular items

This Excel report provides weekly, monthly, and daily usage statistics for users and hits.

You can pull reports from every level in a site. The available levels are site collection, site, library, and list items.

To generate a report, choose a file and click on Popularity Trends as shown in the following image:

Screenshot

The Popularity Trends feature helps you to understand item usage and to identify which file, page, or item to which a user has access. Based on these reports, you can initiate a cleaning process and remove unwanted, older content from a SharePoint site.

The following example shows a usage report generated by this feature:

Screenshot

This feature enhances search results and shows the most popular items at the top of the search results list, especially when you have multiple files or items with the same names, as shown in the following image:

Screenshot

The two default columns for search results are Recent and Ever.

The Recent tab shows the access hit count for the last 14 days, and the Ever tab shows the total number of historical access hits. You can sort either of the columns to understand the usage of files and items.

Although it is a very useful feature of SharePoint Server, Popularity Trends has the following limitations:

  • You need Microsoft® Excel to generate this usage report. If you do not have Excel installed on your machine, you must save the report and then copy it to another device on which Excel is installed.
  • Two usage reports cannot be opened at the same time because the default report name is Usage.xlsx. If you try to open a second file, you will get the error message, “Sorry, Excel cannot open two workbooks with the same name at the same time”.
  • The feature gives you an option to choose multiple files for your report, but it fetches data from only one file.
  • The feature gives you an option to select a folder, but it doesn’t fetch any data for the folder or its contents. The folder’s report shows zero hits and zero unique users.

Conclusion

Despite these flaws, Popularity Trends is a very useful feature that provides meaningful search results and usage reports for most accessed content. However, if you want to monitor in real-time, these reports cannot compete with the work done by the third party analytic tools. Still, the feature makes our search results smarter than before.

It would be great if, instead of just focusing on making the search functionality smarter, this feature could be enhanced to help SharePoint users work smarter by monitoring real-time usage and by enabling sorting and data drill-down functionality based on different parameters. In the future, we expect enhanced versions to include services like these.

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Yogesh Sharma

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