Long story short: On a SharePoint 2010 Server solution, which is using forms-based-authentification only, I want that the people picker search dialog works like any other usable search.

Rightnow it only finds user when the search term equals with them completely. This makes the search-dialog actually useless, because when I know the complete name of the user there is no need to even perform a search, I could just type the name in the people picker field right away.

I found a solution, in which the search is changed to use wildcards. This is done by using the stsadm -setproperty operation. For example, the search would then work like this: searching for "Matt" would return "Matt Brown" and also "James Matthew Doe". This would be the desired effect I'm looking for. Unfortunally, this solution works for Active Directory ONLY. (Here's the solution I was refering to: http://www.cjvandyk.com/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=309)

The question is: Is that even possible with forms-based-authentification? (I couldn't find ANYTHING on the net so far, except the people with the same problem) If not, is there a possible workaround like overriding the search dialog of the people picker and do this programmatically somehow? Or is there simply no way to achieve that, and I would just have to live with that?!

Any help appreciated.

2 Answers 2


I havent tried this for claims in SP2010, but in SP2007 this was done for FBA by adding PeoplePickerWildCard element to membership provider in web.config

  <clear />
  <add key="AspNetSqlMembershipProvider" value="%" />
  <add key="fbaMembers" value="%" />



You have alternative.

You can write your own Custom Claims Provider. Sole purpose would be to provide better People Picker experience. Your custom claim provider would be responsible for searching and People Picker look and feel but at the end it would save resolved entities as default FBA claims.

I did some researching in this direction and I even made small project as 'proof of concept' but didn't reach production stage with it. Maybe there are some limitations and/or problems I am still not aware of. I was working with mixed mode authentication (Win & FBA)

Here is 4 part series by Steve Peschka that helped me a lot (pay close attention on 3rd):

  • A custom claims provider is much more complex than necessary. The MembershipProvider base class has Find* members that can be implemented to perform a custom search. Feb 17, 2012 at 16:59

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