Home > Articles > Web Development > Content Management Systems

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Exploring Custom Site Templates

For the purposes of our conversation, we need a customized site. This site will be customized to serve as the basis for our custom template. We therefore have created a new site based on the Blank Site template and customized it through the SharePoint web user interface and FrontPage. The result is shown in Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2 Customized site on which we want to base our custom site template.

If you are new to SharePoint and are unfamiliar with how to customize a site, either through the SharePoint web interface or through FrontPage, we suggest you refer to one of the many books or articles on the subject because the emphasis in this chapter and this book is on some of the more advanced concepts of custom templates.

Saving a Custom Site Template

The site template is saved through the SharePoint web user interface, which empowers users and avoids the need for administrative intervention. Now that we have a customized site, we are ready to save it as a custom site template for others to reuse. The steps to save the custom site template are enumerated next.

  1. Navigate to Site Settings in the newly customized site.

  2. Select Site Administration under the Administration section.

  3. Select Save Site As Template, which is in the Management and Statistics section (see Figure 1.3).

  4. Figure 1.3

    Figure 1.3 Site Administration page with Save Site As Template highlighted.

  5. Fill out the Save Site as Template page (see Figure 1.4) as appropriate and then click OK. You can always change the filename, template title, and template description later in the template library. At this time you must decide whether to include the list and library content.

Figure 1.4

Figure 1.4 Saving a site template.

After completing these steps, the template is now saved to the site template gallery. SharePoint confirms that the operation completed successfully as shown in Figure 1.5, which displays immediately after clicking OK in the Save Site as Template page (refer to Figure 1.4).

Figure 1.5

Figure 1.5 Successfully saving a site template.

You manage the Site Template Gallery through the Top-level Site Administration (see Figure 1.6) page. Because the Site Template Gallery exists at the top-level site of a site collection, the newly created custom template is accessible only from that site collection. This important caveat enables you to isolate custom site templates from other site collections. If you want a site template to be accessible within another site collection, you simply need to upload the desired custom site template to the desired site collection’s site template gallery.

Figure 1.6

Figure 1.6 Top-level Site Administration.

The Site Template Gallery (see Figure 1.7) is simply a customized document library for an entire site collection, which explains why our newly saved template (file) can only be used in the current site collection and not other site collections. It also implies that the template is wholly contained within a single file.

Figure 1.7

Figure 1.7 Site Template Gallery.

Through the Site Template Gallery, the custom site template filename, title, and description are all editable. Thus, if you are unhappy with the values you specified for them in Figure 1.4, you can change them.

Applying the Custom Site Template

The next time you create a site, your custom site template appears in the Template Selection web page (see Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.8). In fact, all custom site templates for the current site collection appear in the Template Selection dialog. Notice that the title and the description that we specified while saving the custom template are reflected in the Template Selection web page.

Figure 1.8

Figure 1.8 Template Selection that includes our newly created Customized Original Site.

After we apply the template to a new site, it looks exactly like the original site from which the template was saved (see Figure 1.9).

Figure 1.9

Figure 1.9 ChildSite with Customized Original Site template applied.

The Site Template File

As previously demonstrated, the site template was saved to the Site Template Gallery (document library) as a file. SharePoint saves it to the Site Template Gallery as a file with an STP file extension. This STP file is actually a CAB (Cabinet) formatted file. A CAB file is a compressed collection of files and therefore is similar to a ZIP file. In the case of the custom site template, this collection of files represents the difference between the customization made to the site and the base site definition.

The site template can be copied to a user’s local disk through the normal methods afforded by a SharePoint document library. This capability facilitates uploading the site template to another Site Template Gallery and therefore reusing it in another site collection. It also facilitates the extraction and reuse of the custom template’s code.

Both the site definition and custom template make extensive use of Collaborative Application Markup Language (CAML). CAML is an XML-based language that SharePoint uses. As such, coding site definitions requires the manual manipulation of several XML files, which leverage CAML. It is sometimes easier to design our site through the graphical user interfaces of SharePoint and FrontPage—as we just did—and then extract those CAML changes. These changes could then be injected into the site definition, which would save a significant amount of manual coding time.

Some of the files contained within the compressed CAB (STP) file are shown in Figure 1.10. Perhaps the most significant file and the only consistently named file within the custom site template is MANIFEST.XML.

Figure 1.10

Figure 1.10 STP contents.

The manifest (MANIFEST.XML) is composed of six sections as shown in Listing 1.1. The MetaInfo section contains meta data for the site, the Details section describes high-level site parameters, the Structure section specifies the top navigation and quick launch bar, the Files section maps the other files in the CAB as well as virtual files and folders to the site, the UserLists section defines the various document or picture libraries and lists, and finally the WebParts section defines the placement and settings of web parts throughout the site’s web pages.

Listing 1.1 MANIFEST.XML Structure

<Web>
    <MetaInfo />
    <Details />
    <Structure />
    <Files />
    <UserLists />
    <WebParts />
</Web>

The Details section is where the custom template specifies the Site Definition Template on which it is based. This can be seen in Listing 1.2 through the TemplateID and Configuration elements. We talk more about the Template ID and the Configuration ID in the WEBTEMP.XML section in a later chapter.

Listing 1.2 MANIFEST.XML Details Example

<Details>
    <TemplateDescription>Use this for small teams and not for 
     everyone in the enterprise.</TemplateDescription>
    <TemplateTitle>Customized Original Site</TemplateTitle>
    <Language>1033</Language>
    <TemplateID>1</TemplateID>
    <Configuration>1</Configuration>
    <Title>OriginalSite</Title>
    <Description />
    <CalendarType>1</CalendarType>
    <AlternateCSS />
    <CustomJSUrl />
    <AlternateHeader />
    <Subweb>1</Subweb>
    <Locale>1033</Locale>
    <Collation>25</Collation>
    <TimeZone>10</TimeZone>
</Details>

Central Template Gallery: Custom Site Templates beyond the Site Collection

The Site Template Gallery is site collection-specific. However, you can make a custom site template universally available to all site collections. SharePoint has a central template gallery that is shared for your entire server farm—which could consist of only one server. Unfortunately, SharePoint only exposes access to it through the stsadm.exe utility and does not provide a set of web pages to manage it as it does with the site template gallery.

However, using the StsAdm Windows GUI (http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/downloads/components/detail.asp?a1=443) does make this a bit more palatable. If you were previously unfamiliar with it, it is simply a wrapper for the stsadm.exe command line program.

Table 1.1 highlights the central template gallery operations. Most of the operations are straightforward. However, CreateSite needs some explanation.

Table 1.1 StsAdm.exe Central Template Gallery Operations

Operation

Description

AddTemplate

Adds a template.

CreateSite

Creates a site. You can optionally apply a template from the central template gallery.

DeleteTemplate

Deletes a template.

EnumTemplates

Lists the templates.

The SiteTemplate suboption of CreateSite requires that you look up the name of the site template through the EnumTemplates operation first. The way to list the templates in the custom template gallery is shown in Listing 1.3.

Listing 1.3 STSADM.EXE Syntax to Enumerate the Global Templates

C:>stsadm.exe -o EnumTemplates

Customized Original Site - Language: 1033 - Site Template:
_GLOBAL_#1 - Template Id: 1 Use this for small teams and 
not for everyone in the enterprise.

Enumerating the templates is the only way to determine the dynamically generated name of custom templates added to the central template gallery. In Listing 1.3, we can see that the Central Template Gallery contains only one template, which has been named GLOBAL_#1. This name can be used with the optional parameter SiteTemplate in the CreateSite operation. The syntax for the CreateSite operation is shown in Listing 1.4.

Listing 1.4 STSADM.EXE Syntax to Create a Site with a Global Template

stsadm.exe -o createsite

           -url http://moose/sites/sitecollection2

           -ownerlogin InformationHub\JNadrowski

           -owneremail Jason@InformationHub.com

           -sitetemplate _GLOBAL_#1
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020