Cross-site publishing lets you store and maintain content in one or more authoring site collections, and display this content in one or more publishing site collections. When you change the content in an authoring site collection, those changes are displayed on all site collections that are reusing this content.
Cross-site publishing uses search technology to retrieve content. On a site collection where the Cross-Site Collection Publishing feature is enabled, libraries and lists have to be enabled as catalogs before the content can be reused in other site collections. The content of the library or list catalogs must be crawled and added to the search index. The content can then be displayed in a publishing site collection by using one or more Content Search Web Parts. The following illustration shows how content is stored in libraries and lists in an authoring site collection, and then reused across three separate publishing site collections by using Content Search Web Parts.
Catalog-enabled libraries and lists
SharePoint Server 2013 has added the ability to designate any library or list as a catalog. After the Cross-Site Collection Publishing feature is enabled for a site collection, you can designate any library or list within that site collection as a catalog so that content can be reused on publishing site collections.
You can use catalog-enabled libraries or lists for scenarios such as an article library, knowledge base library, or product catalog. For example, in an Internet business scenario where a company is selling electronic products such as TVs and radios, the company can use one or more lists that are enabled as catalogs to share product information such as brand, color, and size as it applies to each product. By using cross-site publishing, this information can then be displayed in one or more publishing site collections.
Another example is an intranet scenario, where all knowledge base articles created in an organization can be written and stored in one or more libraries that are enabled as catalogs in a content site collection. By using cross-site publishing, different combinations of these knowledge base articles can be displayed on one or more publishing site collections — for example, based on how relevant the articles are for the different departments in the organization.
SharePoint Server 2013 includes a new publishing site collection template, the Product Catalog Site Collection, designed to author, store and maintain data that is used in a catalog scenario. By default, the Cross-Site Collection Publishing feature is automatically enabled in the Product Catalog Site Collection. However, you must still configure the catalog settings to share content with other site collections, just as you would with any other library or list.
When you connect a library or list that is enabled as a catalog to a publishing site collection, a result source is automatically created for this library or list. A result source narrows the scope from which the search results can be retrieved. That is, the result source created for a library or list is limited to content within this library or list. For example, you can use the automatically generated result source to limit a query in a Content Search Web Part. You can also copy a result source or change it to specify an even narrower search result scope.
Content Search Web Part
SharePoint Server 2013 has added a new Content Search Web Part that displays content that was crawled and added to the search index. To display content in the Content Search Web Part, you specify a query in the Web Part. This query is automatically issued, and it returns results from the search index when users browse to a page that contains the Content Search Web Part. The Content Search Web Part is especially powerful when it is used in combination with managed navigation and category pages. For example, in an Internet business scenario where a product catalog is displayed, a term within the term set specified for managed navigation is associated with a specific category page, as described earlier in Category pages. You can specify that a query in a Content Search Web Part on a category page use the current navigation category as part of the query. For example, when users browse to a category, such as Computers, a query is issued from the Content Search Web Part to return all items from the search index that are specified as Computers. Similarly, when users browse to the category Audio, the same Content Search Web Part on the same category page will display items in the search index that are specified as Audio.
Category pages are page layouts that are used for displaying structured content such as catalog data. You can use category pages when you want to aggregate content that meets certain criteria or parameters. For example, in an intranet scenario, all company events are maintained in a list that is shared as a catalog. You want the information about each event to appear in the same manner — for example, with a title in bold, followed by information about when and where the event occurs. To avoid having to create one page for each event, you can create some category pages that can be used to display all events in the same manner.
Category pages are closely tied to managed navigation. This is because you can associate a category page with a specific term within the term set that is used for managed navigation. For example, in the company events scenario that was described earlier, you can have a term set in which the different departments are used for managed navigation. You can use two separate category page templates to display the different events. Category page 1 can be used to display all events related to the Marketing department, and Category page 2 can be used to display all events related to the Human Resources department.