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Very general question here with the possibility of a million answers, but...

  • Why would I need to create a search service application?
  • What can I do with a SSA that can't be done with CSWP/Search Results web parts?

I am currently learning more about search features in Sharepoint, but do not have access to our Central Administration (where it seems new SSAs can be created). Since I cannot perform any testing to get a mock SSA developed, I am reaching to the community. Thanks, and I appreciate any and all answers.

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Why would I need to create a search service application?

You can't use search feature within your farm , If you are not configured the search service application. so the search service application is required to enable search feature

To configure the search service application check Create and configure a Search service application in SharePoint Server 2013

What can I do with a SSA that can't be done with CSWP/Search Results web parts?

As a short answer : You can't work with content search web part / Search Results without configuring search service application

If you tried to add CSWP/Search Results you will got this error

enter image description here

  • Thanks @M.Qassas for such a quick and succinct response. I see from your answer that I assumed rolling out an SSA was similar to a webpart, but that is not the case AT ALL. – osozoso Nov 23 '16 at 15:30
  • yes it's not similar content search web part / Search Results are using search application service to can work , please don't hesitate to tell me if you need more clarification – Mohamed El-Qassas MVP Nov 23 '16 at 15:32
  • Also please if you consider this as answer , set it as answer by clicking on true sign beside my answer and to can do this check sharepoint.stackexchange.com/tour to gain informed badge – Mohamed El-Qassas MVP Nov 23 '16 at 15:33
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Qasses already explain it.

Search Service Application give you the search functionality in SharePoint 2013. Search in SharePoint 2013 enables users to find relevant information more quickly and easily than ever before. for simple, it is like google for SharePoint.

CSWP is add-on for SharePoint Search Service application, Content Search Web Part displays search results in a way that you can easily format. Each Content Search Web Part is associated with a search query and shows the results for that search query.

If you want CSWP then you have to create the search service application.

  • thanks for clarifying and adding the links @Waqas Sarwar MCSE. – osozoso Nov 30 '16 at 0:29

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