SPS Area Templates
And, to close of the day's rants - an instructive post.
Today: How to create a template of a Sharepoint Area that can be moved or taken to different servers.
Unfortunately, SPS Areas can't be bundled into STP templates like WSS sites or lists, and there's no built-in method of exporting an area into a convenient format so out Frontpage customizations and painstakingly defined layout can be copied to a different site.
What we CAN do, though, is simply edit the area in question using FrontPage 2003 and File->Save As to save the ASPX to our local drive. Any locally-referenced images will also be downloaded. This ASPX can now be copied to a different server and serve as a template, using these steps: (Warning: My Sharepoint installation is in Hebrew, so some of my translated links and steps might be a bit off).
1) Copy the ASPX and any dependent files into a Document Library on the new SPS server. The ASPX must reside inside Sharepoint, probably for security reasons. I got strange errors when trying to put the file in the /_layouts directory, so I'll stick to this method until proven wrong.
2) Create an area that will use our template, or modify an existing one (warning: The current content of the area will be unavailable once we attach the template).
3) Go to Change Settings (on the left) -> choose the Page tab -> Area Templates -> This area uses the following page as a template.
4) Specify the virtual path to our ASPX template - I put it in the main portal's Document Library, so the path was:
5) Press OK, and your area is now based off of that page. The original content is unavailable but not erased - if you change the Area Templates radio-button back to what it was, you'll get the old page back.