With all the buzz about the recent templates released by Microsoft there seems to be a big "sigh" from the community. Not having custom solutions has been one of the larger gaps in SharePoint but demonstrates that you can accomplish a lot with just a little configuration and some creative thought. On numerous occasions I find myself in the newsgroups seeing people asking if they can build a Help Desk with SharePoint, or an Expense Tracking System, or a Call Board. The answer is of course yes. Always has been and always will. The problem however is that you don't get a lot of business solutions delivered without some work. Enter the SharePoint Template Project.
I created a new project site on SourceForge (yes, I'm not a big fan of GotDotNet and we haven't created my utopia of SharePointForge just yet) to accomodate this. The project provides an outlet for the SharePoint community to contribute and share list and site templates for the products under the Microsoft SharePoint technology banner (SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services).
These templates come in the form of binary .stp files or plain text xml schema files (along with any additional files like images, etc.). Users create the templates
either using SharePoint itself (saving them in .stp format) or with whatever xml/text editor they prefer. The templates are uploaded to a SharePoint server and used as a boilerplate by SharePoint during site creation.
Templates in this project will be created by the community and packaged in a common installer format (MSI) so that end-users need only download the MSI
and run it on their SharePoint server. A template MSI will be provided for contributors to the project which includes the template installer, full or custom selections for installation (users will be able to choose what templates they want to install), graphical preview for each template (if the developer includes them) and option to create sample sites based on the templates chosen.
Currently there are a few handfuls of templates out there that are available (the 30 Microsoft recently released, a dozen or so from a FrontPage Customization site, and a smattering of some here and there from some individuals). This project intends to provide a central outlet for both creating and sharing new templates and puts it together in a nice package so you're not stuck spending hours installing the latest batch.
I'll provide the MSI package that will install these, all you need to do is join the project and contribute the content (I'll put together some templates as I can find time as well). The templates can be anything (a blog, a project management site, a time sheet tool, whatever) so if you have something you can share let me know via email or join the project (you'll need to sign up to SourceForge or send me your SF name so I can add you). As SourceForge only allows open source projects, all templates in this project are released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) so be sure you understand that before you submit anything.
Here's to building a centralized community for sharing templates for all sorts of solutions using your favorite tool and mine, SharePoint! You can find the SourceForge Project Site here. Thanks!