Managed Navigation in SharePoint 2013–be Careful with Large Term Sets

November 11, 2012

Managed Navigation in SharePoint 2013–be Careful with Large Term Sets

I have a term set of every ICD-10 code, which is a taxonomy for categorizing diseases.  It is organized in a hierarchical term set and contains approximately 10,000 terms.  I created a site and turned on managed navigation and pointed it at my term set.

The result – SharePoint 2013 cannot handle the load and times out.  When I now try to navigate to it, I get the following error:

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Even worse, there seems to be no way to even manage the site to even delete it – clicking on Manage in the site hierarchy invokes the site and the browser times out!

The only way I could find to delete the site was through SharePoint Designer…

The terms are very hierarchical, e.g. a smart navigation interface wouldn’t load up all 10,000 at once but would have a method to drill down the tree as you move down the navigation hierarchy.

Obviously, this will be impacted by the hardware and configuration of your environment. However, the root cause of the problem is probably the JavaScript – its probably trying to load the entire navigation structure on page load, resulting in a massive query and page rendering time.

So given that Microsoft is promoting its new catalogue features, imagine an e-commerce company trying to use this feature for their browse – a few thousand SKUs might work, but not millions. When I worked for one of the leading book store chains, we had over 2 million SKU’s in our catalogue – SharePoint 2013 doesn’t seem to be able to easily scale up to this experience using out of the box web parts and navigation.

Another key lesson learned – you can only pick the top of a term set to be the root of your managed navigation…you cannot pick an arbitrary sub-node and start from that point downward:

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I can pick the top node here, but not this one:

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So I cannot create a single term set and sub-divide it into smaller chunks of navigation – its all or nothing.

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